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Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog: A Critical Analysis and Reflection

Updated on May 16, 2019
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog

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Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog: A Critical Analysis and Reflection

I will be taking a critical approach with the subject piece of Anton Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog. The story was written with the intent of using imagery and colors as the basis of what may be implied of the author. The absence of concrete details leading to solid imagery of what the writer wants shown is seen all throughout the piece. A sample intriguing and confusing line can be found in first part of the story when Dmitri had gone to bed and thought of the reason behind the Anna’s sorrowful eyes yet presented with confusion. Chekhov wrote “As he went to bed, he reminded himself that only a very short time ago she had been a schoolgirl,” This defies grammatical principles! Perhaps there must have been an error in the translation or it may have been deliberately done by the author to confuse the reader.

A remarkable and unique yet equally confusing strategy used by Chekhov employed in the story is the use of colors. Although the use of colors adds depth and magnitude to the essence and vividness of the characters, they can also be misleading as the definition and interpretation of colors differ from culture to culture. Notice how the lines "she, this little woman, in no way remarkable, lost in a provincial crowd, with a vulgar lorgnette in her hand, filled his whole life now, was his sorrow and his joy…” (Part I) or the description of the Yalta sea with "the water was of a soft warm lilac hue, and there was a golden streak from the moon upon it” (Part II) are both difficult to even imagine. The entire process of understanding these simple lines must then be used through a screened and colorful lens used in places and cultures where special plants grow and flourish. To cap it, the imagery and color used by Chekhov cater to a special group of readers with similar or equal background as he possesses. In short, it is not a universal piece for all people of all walks of life regardless of creed and ethnicity. It is merely for those of similar experience with the writer.

Reflections on Using the Critical Analysis

The great benefit behind the use of this chosen methodology is the opportunity to exploit areas in writing which are often neglected or avoided. As this process is quite rare, readers will have to spend more time trying to understand the description and purpose of the writer. In fact, the more the reader burns more time, the more the possibility of being in depth with the literary piece ----- this is the secret motive of Chekhov. Immersion and concentration with his work means higher probability of patronizing his other works. As readers continue to dig in deeper into the confusion of colors and imagery or intended flaws, the story buries right in deeper as well leaving a lasting impression in the mind of the readers. This secret formula may just be the reason why Chekhov or his translator(s) deliberately chose to make the story unique in the first place. Suffice to say, the strategy is a success and more readers are drawn to his work(s).

From a different angle, using these techniques may also deter readers from ever coming to terms with his other works. Readers who want a matter-of-fact will definitely not enjoy a guessing-game; those who like straight details and grammar-conscious ones will eventually leave the scene and abandon all hope of finishing his short story. The process can cut both ways: build or destroy, entice or scare, and profit or abandon. This is the dilemma facing Chekhov as he chose to adapt these two strategies and incorporate them in his piece. Adding to the confusion is the culture-centered and experience-bias evident in his work. Anyone who has limited or no direct knowledge of the colors and situations referred to by the author will be left hanging in mid-air and groping for similar thoughts just to piece the puzzle together. Indeed, it can be likened to a jigsaw puzzle game every time he comes up with colors and images heavily dependent on his roots and settings. Such really deter someone from fully appreciating the subtlety of his craft and the genius of his writing.

Reference

Chekhov, A. P. (1979). “The Lady with the Dog”, translated by Ivy Litvinov, A. P. Chekhov: Short Novels and Stories, Moscow: Foreign Languages Printing House, no date. As reprinted in the Norton Critical Edition paperback, Anton Chekhov's Short Stories, selected and edited by Ralph E. Matlaw, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-09002-7, PZ3.C3985Cg [PG3456.A15] 891.7'3'3, 78-17052, pages 221-235. Retrieved from: <http://www.eldritchpress.org/ac/lapdog.html>

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