Anton Chekhov

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Is Chekhov's play The Proposal a farce?

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Yes, Chekhov's play The Proposal is indeed a farce, as it contains numerous elements associated with the genre. Farces contain action that is utterly ludicrous, and there are few things more ludicrous than Lomov's being unable to propose marriage because he and Natalia are so sensitive and prone to quarreling.

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A farce can be defined as a subgenre of comedy characterized by overdrawn characters, improbable situations, and all-round absurdity. Chekhov's one-act comedy The Proposal has all these qualities, making it the very epitome of a farce.

In the play, we are presented with a high-strung couple, Lomov and Natalia, who are so completely preoccupied with arguing over matters both great and small—whether it's who owns a piece of land or whose family has the best hunting dog—that they are unable to become engaged. This is an utterly ridiculous situation, exactly the kind of thing one would expect to see in a farce.

In the time-honored traditions of the farce, both of these characters are deliberately overdrawn. Lomov is a hypochondriac, prone to having all kinds of imaginary pains and palpitations. And Natalia is herself somewhat unstable, getting all hysterical when she senses that she's driven Lomov away.

Further farce ensues at the end of the play when Natalia's father, Stepan Stepanovich, forces his daughter and Lomov to get engaged right after Lomov has come round after collapsing from exhaustion brought on by his arguments with Natalia. Nevertheless, the absurdity continues with Lomov and Natalia arguing even after she has accepted the marriage proposal with a kiss.

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