The Three Sisters Topics for Further Study
by Anton Chekhov

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Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

In his letters, Chekhov said that he had the city of Perm in mind as a model for the type of provincial city where this drama takes place. Research what life would have been like in a provincial Russian town at the turn of the century, and compare it to what Moscow would have been like.

Research the role that servants would have played in a Russian household at the turn of the century, between the emancipation of the serfs in 1858 and the Russian Revolution in 1917, and explain what the social customs tell about the roles of Ferapont and Aneisa in The Three Sisters.

Read some of the poetry of Russian writer Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov, as well as some biographical information about him. Use this to explain the significance of Solyony's observations that "I have a disposition like Lermontov's ... I even look a little like Lermontov ... so I'm told."

What would these characters do if the play were set in modern America? Since the army is not quartered with civilians here, the characters in the army would have to be given different occupations. Would Protopopov still be the chairman of the county board? Where would Irina work? Try to give them occupations that you are familiar with in daily life.

Explain how you think each of these characters would have fared under communism in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution, and why.

Read one of Chekhov's short stories, such as "The Gooseberries" or "The Lady With the Pet Dog," and show the similarities between the story and this play, focusing on characterization and themes.