Arkady Sergeyitch Islayev
Arkady Sergeyitch Islayev (ahr-KAH-dihy sehr-GEH-ihch ihs-lah-YEHF), a wealthy landowner interested in the details of work on his estate and unwilling to trust his peasants to work without supervision. His discovery of his wife and his friend together and their resultant embarrassment make him feel that he has been too trusting. Although he agrees that Rakitin should leave, at least for a time, he is apologetic about sending away an old friend. Unperceptive as he has been, he is completely surprised later when Rakitin tells him of Natalya’s love for Belyayev.
Natalya Petrovna (nah-TAHL-yah peht-ROV-nah), called Natasha (nah-TAH-shah), his wife. Intelligent and observant, she is sometimes mischievous toward Rakitin, who accuses her of playing with him as a cat does with a mouse. Early in the play, it is obvious that although she cares for Rakitin, she is restlessly looking for some new excitement. Attracted to Belyayev, her son’s tutor, because of his youth, appearance, and winning personality, she tries to draw him out. Seeing Vera’s interest in him, she becomes jealous. She is also a little ashamed of herself for both the love and the jealousy, and she berates herself for slyly eliciting Vera’s confession of love and then reporting it so bluntly and cruelly to Belyayev. At the end, she is overcome by the almost simultaneous departures of Belyayev and Rakitin.
Kolya (KOH-lyah), the ten-year-old son of Arkady and Natalya, a high-spirited boy who idolizes Belyayev.
Vera (VEH-rah), an orphaned ward of the Islayevs. Lonely for the companionship of young people, she falls romantically in love with Belyayev, with whom she feels a kinship because he is also motherless. She is fond of Natalya but a little afraid of her....
(The entire section is 865 words.)