The Lady with the Pet Dog by Anton Chekhov

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Analysis

Anton Chekhov’s "The Lady with the Little Dog" was a pivotal piece of literature, comprised of elements from both 19th-century and modern realism. The former is a sort of anti-romantic realism, while the latter is psychological realism. The anti-romantic aspect is conveyed in this story through a streamlined plot that distinctly observes external social conditions and human behavior. It is a romantic tale in the midst of sharp social criticisms: both characters are ensnared in loveless marriages, and their own love is oppressed by societal expectations. The psychological realism comes from the fact that much of the action is internal—the thoughts of Gurov progress the story.

The point of view in The Lady with the Little Dog is third person limited. We only know Gurov’s thoughts, and we learn about Anna through him.

At the beginning of The Lady with the Little Dog, Gurov is portrayed as an amoral misogynist. His unhappy marriage has left him bitter and longing for pleasure. Upon meeting Anna, he simply refers to her as “the lady with the little dog” because he views women as inferior. However, midway through the story, the affair stirs emotions within Gurov that he has never felt before. This is major turning point for the character. Anna, who is also trapped in a boring marriage, is enraptured by this man who is many years her senior, and she recognizes this affair as the most exciting thing to occur since her marriage.

Once Gurov returns to Moscow, both of them are tormented by the memory of the other. Gurov thought that the memory of Anna would fade, but contrary to this, her “ghost” constantly follows him around. He starts contemplating how Anna and he can be together. Anna decides to go to Moscow and find Gurov because she, too, believes that they can develop a plan for them to be together without the secrecy.

The two main settings of the story, Yalta and Moscow, are important representations of the characters' lives. Yalta provides an escape for both Anna and Gurov; here, they can be anonymous and engage in pleasures that are not present in their home lives. Conversely, Moscow is a prison; Gurov is trapped there in his false marriage. In the end, the characters conceal themselves in a hotel in Moscow. The impression of this scene is that their romance cannot be leaked into the outside Moscovian world.

A couple examples of literary devices utilized include symbolism (the fence confines Anna, just as her marriage does) and allusion (to The Geisha, which is significant because this opera is about an engaged man who falls in love with another woman, mirroring the plot in "The Lady with the Little Dog").

The Lady with the Dog

(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Dmitrii Dmitrich Gurov

Dmitrii Dmitrich Gurov (DMIH-tree DMIH-trihch GEW -rov), a Moscow banker. A married man approaching middle age, Dmitrii is a property owner, the father of three children, and an amateur singer who once had aspirations to join a private opera company. He is also a veteran adulterer. While vacationing by himself at Yalta, he intends to continue his infidelity if the opportunity presents itself. He is, however, clearly aware that each new affair soon palls, although the prospect of inevitable boredom over his conquests and his disgust over each affair’s messy ending do not dissuade him from striking up an acquaintance with Anna, who seems to be easy prey. His shallow and cynical attitude toward women (to whom he refers as the “lower breed”) is in part the result of his bitterness over marriage to a severe, intellectual woman whom he wed while still at the university. His round of activities, both at the seaside resort and in Moscow, is characterized by cynicism and boredom and by the spurious pleasures of card games at his clubs and sophisticated chatter at social gatherings. His immersion in the old pleasures proves useless, however, in disguising the fact that he has fallen deeply in love with Anna. As their affair lengthens and becomes increasingly serious, Dmitrii’s trifling,...

(The entire section is 2,994 words.)