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Perspective and Its Influence in “The Lady With the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 1st, 2021

Introduction

The Lady with the Pet Dog is a short story written by Anton Chekhov in 1889. The story presents a love affair between Dmitry Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna who met at a sea resort in Yalta. Gurov is depicted as a character that has certain disrespect for women and considers them an inferior race; he is unhappy in his marriage and he seems to be a cynic with no ability to love. Anna, in her turn, is a romantic character; she is also married but her attitude towards marriage is not as biased as that of Gurov. After committing adultery, Anna is rather remorseful of her deed and becomes even more despondent than before taking the vacation (Smith 65). Narration plays a decisive role in this story because it allows discovering the characters’ feelings and emotions, as well as observing the events which unfold in it. The function of the narrator in The Lady with the Pet Dog is to reflect the inner feelings of the characters; in this story, Chekhov chooses a third-person narrative with a limited point of view because using this point of view when describing personal relations is especially convenient.

The function of the narrator in the story

To begin with, the main function of the narrator in the story under consideration is to inform the readers and to reveal certain feelings and emotions hidden inside the story’s characters. Chekhov’s narration is unobtrusive; his main aim is to inform the readers about the events which unfold in the story without providing any personal opinions or imposing certain ideas on the readers. This is especially evident in the description of Gurov who has “something attractive and elusive which allured women and disposed of them in his favor” (Chekhov 2). Such description is rather vague and abstract, but, “in its abstract and static way, the description is effective in supporting the story of a man who experiences love through intellect rather than emotion” (McClanahan 82). Not only does Chekhov narrate about the events in the story, but he also tells how the characters perceive what is taking place in the story; for instance, he discloses Gurov’s feelings towards Anna by describing how “he thought about her in his room at the hotel – thought she would certainly meet him next day” (Chekhov 3). Thus, apart from informing, the role of the narrator in this story consists in revealing the character’s inner worries and sufferings.

Perspective and its influence on the story

In addition, the third-person narrative with a limited point of view is used by Chekhov in The Lady with the Pet Dog. A third-person narrator uses the pronouns “he”, “she”, and “they” when referring to the characters. At this, however, the point of view is limited because Chekhov presents the events from the perspective of Gurov only. It is seldom that he describes Anna thinking about Dmitry. For example, Chekhov mentions that Gurov was constantly thinking about Anna after they parted: “He would pace a long time about his room, remembering it all and smiling; then his memories passed into dreams, and in his fancy, the past was mingled with what was to come” (Chekhov 10). In contrast, Anna’s feelings are depicted only when she is with Gurov: “She glanced at him and turned pale, then glanced again with horror, unable to believe her eyes, and tightly gripped the fan and the lorgnette in her hands, evidently struggling with herself not to faint” (Chekhov 13). This presents the story purely from Gurov’s perspective, thus affecting its plot and overall meaning.

The reasons why Chekhov chose a definite perspective

Finally, there are two main reasons why Chekhov chose namely this point of view. Firstly, using this point of view is quite convenient when depicting personal relations. It allows the author to take a neutral position of an informant who simply shares what is taking place with the readers. And, secondly, third person narration with limited point of view helps the author to avoid responsibility and be objective in presenting the facts. For instance, if there was narration with unlimited point of view, the narrator could seem biased when telling about the characters’ relations. In contrast, when making the readers witness what Gurov was experiencing, the narrator shared with them some intimate details of Gurov’s life, the details which the readers would have never discovered without the narrator. This has added value for the narrator because it allows establishing contact with the readers. Therefore, Chekhov has chosen the third-person narrative with limited perspective to get rid of responsibility, avoid bias, and earn the trust of the readers.

Conclusion

Drawing a conclusion, it can be stated that Chekhov was quite successful when choosing a particular point of view in the story. The narrator in The Lady with the Pet Dog is an informant who, from the third-person narration with limited perspective, informs the readers about the events taking place in the story and, at this, is unobtrusive and objective when describing personal relations between Gurov and Anna. This proves the talent of the author and his desire to present to the readers a decent piece of writing.

Works Cited

Chekhov, Anton P. The Lady With A Dog And Other Stories. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2004.

McClanahan, Rebecca. Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 2000.

Smith, Patrick A. Thematic Guide to Popular Short Stories. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.

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IvyPanda. "Perspective and Its Influence in “The Lady With the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov." December 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-lady-with-the-pet-dog-by-anton-chekhov/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Perspective and Its Influence in “The Lady With the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov." December 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-lady-with-the-pet-dog-by-anton-chekhov/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Perspective and Its Influence in “The Lady With the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov'. 1 December.

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