This sample essay on Misery By Anton Chekhov reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
The Misery by Anton Chekhov
1. Misery is a short story written by Anton Chekhov. Constance Garnett translated it from Russian to English. Chekhov began writing with the purpose of raising funds for his medical education at Moscow University and upkeep for his family. In 1884, the author graduated from the University and began his medical practice. In 1886, he published his acclaimed work, Misery. The story in question revolves around Iona Potapov, an old sledge driver. It is set a week after Potapov’s son dies in a hospital, during 19th Century Russia. Other characters in the story are a military officer, three young men, a house porter and a sleepy cabman. Potapov’s horse also plays a role in the story’s proceedings. The characters mentioned, have a significant role in bringing forward Chekhov’s ideals. Anton Chekhov proposes that human beings have no concern for each other’s hardships. Various instances in the short story show this.
The story begins with Iona seeking for a customer in the snowy town. Eventually, a military officer boards his sledge. Chekhov portrays the officer as an impatient and rude character. During the ride, he is as a cautious person just as well. When Iona attempts to inform him of his grief, the officer does not pay attention. They reach their destination and the old man gets new customers, three young men. The young men are obnoxious and rowdy. They pay Iona an unfair fare for the ride. When the old man attempts to inform them of his son’s death, one of the young men rubbishes Iona’s words. The young men impatiently get off the sledge at their destination. The old man decides to end his day by going to the yard. Unfortunately, he has not made enough money to feed his horse with oats. At the yard, he meets a young sledge driver. He wishes to share his grief with him, but the sleepy young man continues with his sleep. Chekhov’s story ends with Iona detailing the loss of his son to his horse as no one else seems concerned with his affairs.
Chekhov is a brilliant writer. Several aspects of his writing are admirable. First, his introduction of Iona is impressive. He uses a highly descriptive style. Chekhov first describes the evening. He then describes how snow fell on that occasion, and its effect on the people and objects in the area. (Chekhov 168). Through this, the writer informs his readers that the story begins at the evening and ends at night. This instance also provides us with the season during which the story takes place. The writer also introduces the old man’s hardship through his stillness, in thought.
Chekhov also provides the reader with a good description of the old man’s poor driving. He explains that the old man is restless. The writer compares the sledge’s seat to thorns. Chekhov also describes the old man’s difficulty in focusing on the road ahead. Iona, therefore, drives the sledge in a hazardous manner, nearly causing an accident. This situation provokes the military officer to speak to Iona. In turn, the old man sees this as the opportunity to justify his current state. Iona tells the officer of his son’s death. However, the officer interrupts the speech with his commands. The author uses a descriptive style to highlight the hunchback’s response to Iona’s hardship. He describes the manner which the hunchback licks his lips and coughs. This instance helps in showing the hunchback’s reluctance to share the old man’s grief.
Anton Chekhov’s depiction of the characters is admirable. He develops them alongside the story’s argument. The military officer is a dismissive character. First, he assumes that Mr. Potapov is asleep by laying still. The officer asks the old man whether he is asleep or not (Chekhov 169). During the ride, Iona speaks to his passenger. At first, he assumes that the officer is ready to listen to the story of his son’s death. However, the officer closes his eyes and pretends to be deep in thought as the old man commences his story. The military officer portrays the notion that people lack genuine concern for each other’s affairs. Chekhov implies that people also take advantage of each other’s hardships in the story. He uses the three young men to portray this notion. The old man picks them up despite a terrible price for the sledge ride. (Chekhov 170). The writer explains that the old man has lost concern for the fare as his grief has occupied his mind. The three have an unsympathetic character. In response to the old man’s story, the hunchback cuts him off and tells him that they shall all die (Chekhov 172). The author portrays the sleepy cabman as a selfish person. He considers his sleep more important than listening to the old man. The writer explains that when Iona began to speak, the young man was fast asleep.
Chekhov’s portrayal of grief in the story is admirable. He introduces the old man as a person stricken with grief to an extent that he is immobile. The author depicts Iona Potapov as a person who has separated himself from the society around him, and to an extent, reality. Chekhov describes the old man as white as a ghost, due to snow covering his body. Chekhov further highlights the old man’s stillness. This serves as a portrayal of his grief. When the military officer arrives, he thinks that the old man is asleep. However, he is simply sitting still in thought. The atmosphere in the story is described as dull and cold. This depiction is brought forward by Chekhov’s description of the weather. At the end of the story, the writer describes the old man’s lack of cash. As a result, he misses a meal, and his horse has to eat hay. This further contributes to the reader’s perception of the old man’s bad day.
After finding no one to share his misery with, he switches to contemplation and watching his surroundings. Chekhov (174) writes, “Can he not find among these thousands someone who will listen to him? However, the crowds flit by heedless of him and his misery…His misery is immense, beyond all bounds. If Iona’s heart were to burst and his misery flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but it is not seen. It has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight…” Through this instance, Anton Chekhov depicts his theme of loneliness. His choice of words further enables the reader familiarity with Iona’s miserable situation. In the end, the old man decides to share his grief with his horse. After all, nobody else is interested in sharing his story. The writer informs us that Mr. Potapov’s horse listens to him as it feeds on hay.
Chekhov’s story raises many questions in a readers mind. In the story, the author tackles the old man’s situation casually. A reader wonders whether misery and isolation is a daily phenomenon. From the text, the author depicts sadness as a matter of daily occurrence. Chekhov informs us that the old man’s sadness leaves for a short while, and then comes back heavier than before. The answer provided is unsatisfactory. This is proven when contemporary life is taken into consideration. Not every day happens to be a miserable day.
The author has taken a disdainful stance towards the female gender. The writer implies that women are of minimal importance, and all they do is weep during serious situations. This is a derogatory pronouncement. In his efforts to create conversation with the young man, Iona should have thought of a different subject. The writer’s words may upset an audience consisting of the female gender. In the story, Chekhov implies that no person bothered to listen to Iona Potapov’s story of hardship, only an animal did. The author describes the anxiety the old man felt as he looked at the crowd. When it hits him that all the people he sees are strangers, and none is concerned with his bereavement, his pain intensifies. From that, readers wonder whether humans are so cold and ignorant of one another, focusing on themselves instead. Chekhov should have provided at least one instance of an understanding person. It is a reader’s opinion that strangers may not be compassionate to an individual’s suffering. It does not concern them, and they will try to maintain their distance. Furthermore, a reader may deduce that the writer’s sick state of health, at the time of writing, may have disoriented his thoughts on society’s positive aspects. However, Chekhov’s story is highly successful in showing that people have little concern for each other’s problems.
2. Towards the end of the story, Chekhov explains Iona’s desire to speak to someone by comparing his desire for a conversation with the aforementioned man’s thirst. When he discovers that the younger man is asleep, he thinks of what he can use as a conversation starter. However, he ends up talking to his white mare. He tells the horse, “That’s how it is, old girl. . . . Kuzma Ionitch is gone. . . . He said goodby to me. . . . He went and died for no reason. . .(Chekhov 174)” The writer explains that Iona’s horse eats as it listens to the old man. Chekhov tells us that this simple act carries away the old man. From this, a reader may deduce the ending as a relatively happy one. The writer has solved the conflict of the story. The old man yearns for someone to listen to what he had to say, throughout the story. Amazingly, the horse grants his wish, as he feeds it hay.
However, Chekhov should have adopted a different end to the story. An ending with the man talking to the horse is unsatisfactory. A horse is incapable of providing compassion to the old man. Furthermore, the horse is unable to understand the old man’s problems. Furthermore, it is an assumption that the old man knew the horse was listening to him. After all, the writer describes that the old man was carried away as he spoke to the horse (Chekhov 175). As stated earlier, Chekhov wishes to show that people have lost compassion for each other, during times of suffering. Towards the end of his story, Chekhov contradicts his earlier proposition. The writer states that the old man had not earned enough to pay for his horse’s oats. He relates this situation to the misery he has experienced throughout that day. The old man further states that people who have enough to eat ate always happy with their situation (Chekhov 174). From that instance, the old man implies that his misery is attributable to lacking enough money, and in consequence, food. That statement discounts the old man’s earlier need to share his grief, on his son’s death, with strangers. An appropriate ending should reflect the writer’s earlier argument on the old man’s grief.
The best ending would be right before the author says, “His misery is immense, beyond all bounds. If Iona’s heart were to burst and his misery to flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but it is not seen. It has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight. . . .(Chekhov 170).” In that scenario, the story ends with an aura of misery. Iona wished for a person to listen to him, which nobody did. This ending enables the story to maintain relevance to the stated theme. Scenarios such as the talk with his horse, and the young man, are cut down on. Such an ending also emphasizes the cruelty of people, as portrayed by the crowd. The story has a dull mood, as described by the weather and speech. The proposed ending will enhance the story’s mood. Furthermore, at the chosen point in the story, a reader experiences its climax. An ending at the suggested point will serve to enhance literary tools such as suspense to the reader.
In the story, Anton Chekhov presents an interesting argument. He implies that humans have lost concern for their counterparts in the society. Various instances justify this thought, in the story. This article supports the aforementioned notion. However, it also mentions differing ideals, to provide an argument to Chekhov’s views. The writer’s positive aspects receive acknowledgement in the essay. Just as well, the article raises various propositions, for the purposes of improving the story. In this light, the essay provides an appropriate alternative to the previous ending.
Chekhov, Anton P, Okla Elliott, Kyle Minor, and Constance Garnett. The Other Chekhov. Fort Collins, Colo.: New American Press, 2008. Print.
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