The Lady with the Pet Dog Summary

"The Lady with the Pet Dog" is a short story by Anton Checkhov in which Dmitry Gurov meets a lovely woman named Anna at a seaside hotel. Gurov falls in love with Anna, and they have an affair.

  • Alone on holiday, Gurov meets a gentlewoman named Anna.

  • Despite his contemptuous and sexist attitude toward all women, Gurov falls in love with Anna, and they have an affair. At the end of the summer, they part ways.

  • In Moscow, Gurov assumes that he'll forget about Anna. He doesn't, so he seeks her out and they eventually rekindle their love and find some happiness together. 

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 255

The story begins at a resort in Yalta. Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov is a married Moscow banker on holiday. He notices a younger, attractive woman with a Pomeranian; she, too is a solo traveler on vacation.

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Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov approaches the woman to begin an affair, something he has done many times. He and his wife have children, but he is unfulfilled in the marriage and suffers no guilt as a philanderer.

Anna Sergeyevna, the woman with the pet dog, is also in an unfulfilling marriage; hers is to a much older man. However, once she begins the affair with Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, she is troubled with complicated feelings of guilt and shame mixed with love and desire for Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov. When she is called home because her husband is having health problems, the lovers part company, and Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov writes off their affair as another ordinary dalliance.

However, Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov finds that upon his return to Moscow, he often thinks about Anna Sergeyevna. He travels to her city, stakes out her home, and finds a way to run into her in a theater. Their connection is still strong, and Anna Sergeyevna soon begins traveling to meet him in secret in Moscow.

The lovers become devoted to one another, and their affair turns into a genuinely loving relationship. As the story ends, they are in a conversation about how they need to find a way to be together permanently, but is clear that they understand that, in 19th-century Russia, this will be difficult.

Summary

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 472

The story involves a love affair between two married people: Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna. Both are unhappily married, and a chance meeting inspires an unlikely romance between the two.

Gurov is married to a woman he considers unintelligent, narrow-minded, and dogmatic; he and his wife have a twelve-year-old daughter and two school-aged sons. Meanwhile, Anna is married to a man who shares little of his life with her. She feels trapped and unhappy.

At the beginning of the story, we learn that Gurov and Anna are both vacationing in Yalta without their spouses. Gurov first notices Anna because of her white Pomeranian dog, who follows closely behind her.

Gurov has always been fascinated by young, vibrant women who are grateful for their brief, passionate affairs with him. By all indications, Gurov has little respect for his transient lovers; they are merely an entertaining distraction in his otherwise dull life.

However, Anna seems to affect him differently. After both of them consummate their love affair, Anna feels guilty. She is grief-stricken that she has betrayed her husband and conscience. Above all else, she fears that Gurov will cease to respect her.

Gurov is amused by Anna's puritan outlook, but he does not relinquish his time with her. Both of them continue to spend time in each other's company until Anna's husband sends a letter beseeching her to return home.

Anna is grateful for her husband's summons, and she bids an emotional farewell to Gurov, believing that she will never see him again.

In due time, Gurov returns to Moscow, where he lives with his family. He throws himself into his work duties and revels in everything the cosmopolitan city has to offer. However, Gurov soon realizes that he is deeply unhappy. He is tormented by memories of Anna, and as the days progress, he begins to despise the coarseness of the city and the dullness of his family life.

Gurov soon comes to the realization that he must see Anna. He makes an excuse to his wife and tells her that he has business to attend to in St. Petersburg.

In reality, Gurov is planning to see Anna again. To his surprise, Gurov realizes that he is in love with her. He is flabbergasted that he has actually fallen in love, for the first time in his life.

When Gurov tracks Anna down at a theater in St. Petersburg, Anna is horrified. She fears that her affair will be discovered and her reputation tarnished. Distraught, she begs Gurov to return to Moscow and promises to visit him periodically.

So, the two continue their assignations in Moscow. The story ends without a resolution to the lovers' predicament. However, the author hints that Gurov and Anna aim to continue their relationship and that this decision alone will bring new challenges into their lives.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 934

The story begins with a description of a bored banker, Dmitrii Gurov, on vacation in the southern Russian city of Yalta. Idly attentive toward the other vacationers, Gurov takes special interest in a recent arrival to the resort town, a young woman named Anna Sergeevna von Diederitz, who strolls along the embankment with her little dog. Judging from her appearance, Gurov decides that she is a married woman alone and bored on her vacation. Although he too is married, he has had many affairs, and he becomes excited by the prospect of having a brief affair with this stranger. Beckoning her dog toward him, he uses the pet as an excuse to strike up a conversation with her, and within a short time they develop an easy air of companionship.

Anton Chekhov next depicts the pair after a week has passed. It is a warm, windy day, and the two go down to the pier to watch a ship come in. As the crowd around the ship gradually dissipates, Gurov asks Anna Sergeevna if she wishes to go for a ride. Suddenly, on an impulse, he embraces her and kisses her. He then suggests that they go to her room. The next scene portrays Anna Sergeevna and Gurov in her room; they have just made love for the first time. She is distraught because she feels guilty, not only because she has deceived her husband but also because she has discovered that she has been deceiving herself for a long time. She tells Gurov that she was twenty when she married her husband and has since realized that he is nothing but a flunky. Anna Sergeevna, on the other hand, wants to live, to experience life. Now she believes that her infidelity has proved her to be a petty, vulgar woman and that Gurov will not respect her. Gurov listens to this confession with an attitude of boredom and irritation. He feels that her repentance is unexpected and out of place. Nevertheless, he comforts her, and within a short time her gaiety returns.

They leave the hotel and drive to Oreanda, a scenic spot outside Yalta. There they gaze in silence at the sea and listen to its incessant, muffled sound. Chekhov writes that in the constancy of this noise and in the sea’s calm indifference to human life and death there perhaps lies a pledge of eternal salvation, of uninterrupted perfection. Listening to this sound in the company of an attractive woman, Gurov gains a new insight into life. He perceives that everything in this world is beautiful except that which people themselves do when they forget about the highest goals of existence and their own human worth.

After this moment of transcendent reflection, the two return to Yalta, and for the next several days they spend all of their time together, indulging in the sensual pleasures of Yalta and the joys of their new relationship. At last, however, Anna Sergeevna receives a letter from her husband asking her to return home. After she bids Gurov farewell at the railroad station, presumably forever, he, too, thinks that it is time for him to return home to Moscow.

Back in Moscow, Gurov tries to return to his familiar routine of work, family life, and entertainment. He assumes that his memories of Anna Sergeevna will fade, just as the memories of his other lovers always have. He discovers, though, that he cannot stop thinking about Anna Sergeevna, and soon he begins to regard his present life as nonsensical, empty, and dull. Impulsively he decides to travel to Anna Sergeevna’s hometown, hoping to see her and to arrange a meeting with her. After arriving in her town, he seeks out her house but does not enter it. Instead he decides to attend a premiere at the local theater that night in the hope of seeing her there. When he confronts her at the theater, she is shocked yet thrilled, and she agrees to meet with him in Moscow.

Now begins an agonizing time for Gurov. Meeting with Anna Sergeevna once every two or three months, he finds that he is living a double life. His everyday life is routine and conventional, but he regards it as being full of lies and deception. His other life, the one involving Anna Sergeevna, is of necessity kept secret, but it contains all that is important to him, and indeed it represents the core of his being. In the final scene of the story, Chekhov depicts the two lovers trying to come to terms with their difficult situation. Anna Sergeevna is in tears; she believes that their lives have been shattered by their love and the deceit that it requires to survive. He too recognizes that he cannot tear himself away from her, and he perceives a fearful irony in the fact that only now, when he has begun to turn gray and to lose his good looks, has he found true love. The anguished pair talk about the necessity of changing their lives, of breaking through the walls of deception around them, but they cannot see a solution to their dilemma. Chekhov concludes his tale with the comment that it seemed as though a solution would be found shortly and that a new, beautiful life would then begin but that it was also clear to the couple that the end was still a long way off, and that the most complex and difficult part was just beginning. With this moment of unresolved uncertainty, Chekhov brings to a close his penetrating study of human love and human destiny.

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