Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 584
A quote from "The Lady with the Pet Dog" that comes early in the story serves to establish the characterization of Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov. He is a Moscow banker in his late thirties who is unhappy in his marriage. The narrator speaks of Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov's attitude toward his wife and women in general by saying,
He had begun being unfaithful to her long ago—had been unfaithful to her often, and, probably on that account, almost always spoke ill of women, and when they were talked about in his presence, used to call them "the lower race."
Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov is introduced as a callous womanizer with a misogynistic outlook. In the early days of his affair with Anna Sergeyevna, there is little indication that their dalliance will be unlike many others he has had.
Anna Sergeyevna, however, suffers from intense guilt over their affair; she tells him:
"Believe me, believe me, I beseech you . . ." she said. "I love a pure, honest life, and sin is loathsome to me. I don't know what I am doing. Simple people say: 'The Evil One has beguiled me.' And I may say of myself now that the Evil One has beguiled me."
Her words do not move Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, and he finds her emotionality tiresome.
However, once Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov returns to Moscow after his time in Yalta with Anna Sergeyevna, he finds that he is unable to forget her. What he thought had been a purely sexual affair with a much younger woman has turned into love.
But more than a month passed, real winter had come, and everything was still clear in his memory as though he had parted with Anna Sergeyevna only the day before. And his memories glowed more and more vividly.
Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov travels to Anna Sergeyevna's city and tracks her to a local theater. When they meet again, there is both tension and love expressed. Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov
...recalled how when he had seen Anna Sergeyevna off at the station he had thought that everything was over and they would never meet again. But how far they were still from the end!
They continue their clandestine affair as Anna Sergeyevna travels secretly to Moscow from time to time. The lovers are both mired in unfulfilling marriages, and the feelings between them progress. Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov realizes that he is in love for the first time in his life and reflects on this.
Anna Sergeyevna and he loved each other like people very close and akin, like husband and wife, like tender friends; it seemed to them that fate itself had meant them for one another, and they could not understand why he had a wife and she a husband; and it was as though they were a pair of birds of passage, caught and forced to live in different cages. They forgave each other for what they were ashamed of in their past, they forgave everything in the present, and felt that this love of theirs had changed them both.
The story ends with the pair realizing that it will be difficult for them to find a way to be together permanently.
And it seemed as though in a little while the solution would be found, and then a new and splendid life would begin; and it was clear to both of them that they had still a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning.
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