Write a note on the theme of Chekhov's "The Lottery Ticket."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one distinct theme out of Chekhov's short story is how every step towards creation is a step towards destruction.  Ivan and Masha are content living with their conditions before they find out of the potential for their winning ticket. While the prospect of material gain is not in front of them, their unhappiness is not completely manifested.  In the story's exposition, they live an ordinary life.  Ivan is "well satisfied" with his lot in life.  It is at the moment of creation, the moment where the prospect of his lottery ticket winning, where emotional destruction is evident. The weight of expectations, material success, and the potential for transformation within it, that brings about a sense of pain and hurt within the marriage.  

In the act of creation- the prospect of holding the winning lottery ticket- the destructive qualities of envy, want, and coveting of wealth end up revealing an unhealthy dynamic between husband and wife.  This dynamic is one where both view one another with growing skepticism, and the contentment once seen is absent.  It is in this light where the theme of  creation and destruction are seen in the short story.  Within the moments where the winning lottery ticket, Chekhov shows human beings as not inclusive and content with where they are. Rather, it is a moment for pettiness and self- interest to take over, showcasing the potential for destruction within something that might be a force of creation.  In doing so, Chekhov highlights the destructive quality of material acquisition that marks the modern setting, reflective of how each step towards creation contains with it a potential for destruction.