Anton Chekhov

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In "A Woman without Prejudice," what does the story teach about prejudice?

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Maxim is deeply in love with Elena. So much so, in fact, that he trembles whenever she's near. At the same time, Maxim harbors what he believes to be a shameful secret: once upon a time, he was a clown in a circus. Maxim, due to the enormous prejudice he has towards himself, has convinced himself that if Elena finds out what he once did for a living, she'll slap him in the face. In effect, what Maxim is doing is projecting his prejudice onto Elena.

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In Anton Chekhov's story "A Woman without Prejudice," we learn that one of the worst types of prejudice we can have is prejudice against ourselves.

Maxim Kuzmich Salyutov is a fine, strong man, and he is in love with Elena Gavrilovna, so much so that he becomes a pale, trembling fellow when he finally declares his love for her. Maxim, though, has a secret, and he is horribly ashamed of it. He fears that if Elena finds out, she will slap his face and leave him forever. He knows that he should tell her this secret, but he cannot work up the courage. He waits and waits some more.

Pretty soon, the young couple marries. On their wedding night, Maxim finally decides that he must explain. He must tell Elena about his past once and for all. He begins by explaining that his family was very poor and that, as a boy, he sold fruit to help make ends meet. Then he reveals what he believes is the worst part of all: for twenty years, Maxim was a circus clown.

Maxim covers his face, expecting Elena to slap him. But Elena laughs. Her laughter is not mocking but delighted. She loves the idea that her husband was once a circus clown, and she makes him perform some of his tricks. She is thrilled and cheers and claps at his performance.

Indeed, Maxim is expecting prejudice from Elena, but he does not find it. She loves him for who he is, and she loves his past as well. The prejudice in this story is to be found in Maxim himself, for he has long been ashamed of his past for no reason at all. Being a circus clown, he discovers, is actually a very good thing.

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In "A Woman Without Prejudice" by Anton Chekhov, what do you learn about prejudice?

In "A Woman Without Prejudice" by Anton Chekhov, we learn that it is possible to be prejudiced against oneself as well as others.

Maxim is deeply in love with Elena. So much so, in fact, that he trembles whenever she's near. At the same time, Maxim harbors what he believes to be a shameful secret: once upon a time, he was a clown in a circus. Maxim, due to the enormous prejudice he has towards himself, has convinced himself that if Elena finds out what he once did for a living, she'll slap him in the face.

In effect, what Maxim is doing is projecting his prejudice onto Elena. As it turns out, he has no need to do this, for when Maxim finally plucks up the courage to tell Elena on their wedding night that he used to be a clown, his new bride is actually thrilled to hear this and laughs with delight as he performs some of his old tricks.

If there's a moral in this story, it's that prejudice against oneself is often the worst and most destructive kind of prejudice there is.

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