Style and Technique

Chekhov is renowned for his economy of words and ability to portray a mood or a person with a single, well-chosen word. In “Gooseberries,” he utilizes this technique as usual until Ivan Ivanich gives his speech on the evils of the world. At this point, Chekhov launches into a very uncharacteristic authorial sermon that catches the immediate attention of the reader but that, at times, seems redundant.

Another Chekhovian technique, however, is carefully adhered to: the use of exaggeration of a human characteristic to prove a point. Chekhov wishes to portray the human ability to delude oneself and to settle for less than what one can achieve. In his portrayal of Nikolai Ivanich, Chekhov presents the reader with an absurd example of such a person but not so absurd that the point is lost. Chekhov’s immense talent permits him to exaggerate but not go so far that the reader views the work as fantasy or comedy.

Historical Context

Decline of Russia’s Feudal Order
The end of the nineteenth century saw the end of the old feudal order in Russia....

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The story opens with a description of the Russian countryside on a rainy day. Chekhov at first describes the scene as gray and dull,...

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Literary Style

Story within a Story
Aliokhin’s house is two-storied, and so is ‘‘Gooseberries.’’ Chekhov introduces the...

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Literary Qualities

The narrator of "Gooseberries" is presumably Chekhov himself. He makes Ivan his spokesperson, hailing the benefits of moderation and...

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Social Sensitivity

Chekhov clearly uses Ivan's speech as a vehicle to defend his stand on social issues of concern in Russia in the late 1800s. Education of the...

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Compare and Contrast

1898: Social interactions are often unplanned, yet welcome, and people are entertained simply by conversation. At times, one...

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Topics for Discussion

1. Is the ending of the book satisfactory? Can you identify a climax to the story?

2. What purpose does Pelageya serve in the...

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. Discuss the symbolism in the novel; specifically of the gooseberries, the rain, and the pipe.

2. It has been said that one of...

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Topics for Further Study

Read a sampling of William Blake’s poems from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience Write an essay in which you...

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Related Titles / Adaptations

Gooseberries is the middle story in a trilogy of Chekhov's tales, the first titled "The Man in a Shell" and the last titled "About Love." All...

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What Do I Read Next?

Anton Chekhov: Selected Stories (1990), translated by Ann Dunnigan, is a collection of twenty of Chekhov’s short works. Because...

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For Further Reference

"Chekhov, Anton." In Contemporary Authors, vol. 124. Detroit: Gale, 1988. A biographical essay with information about Chekhov's work....

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Baker, Simon, ‘‘‘Gooseberries,’’’ in Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., edited by...

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