Marya (Masha) Alexandrovna
Marya (Masha) Alexandrovna (ah-lehk-SAN-drov-nah), the narrator, a young noblewoman. She tells about her life from the age of seventeen, shortly after the death of her widowed mother, until she is about twenty-three, some four or five years after her marriage. A modest, intelligent woman as yet unaware of her great beauty, she lives with her sister and a governess on the family estate, Pokrovskoe. She falls in love with her legal guardian, Sergey Mikhaylych, a man more than twice her age. In time, he returns her love, and their romance culminates in marriage. Living with her husband and his mother on their estate, Nikolskoe, proves confining to the young woman. On a trip with Sergey to St. Petersburg, she is introduced to high society, becomes fully conscious of her attractiveness to men, and gradually is drawn to the worldly vanities of the capital. Three years later, while spending the summer in Baden, Masha only barely resists committing adultery with a handsome foreigner. Frightened, she returns to her marriage, which, after all, she had not meant to test so severely. Although her life with Sergey will never be quite the same, the marriage, now with two children to strengthen it, will be a sufficiently happy one.
Sergey Mikhaylych (sehr-GAY mih-KHAY-lihch), a serious, responsible landowner of the noble class....
(The entire section is 469 words.)