R: Chekhov is able to get some laughs with this play, but the tragedy is always there lending the comedy support, this play constantly surprises you in its observation of joy and sorrow and laughter.
2. A number of characters in Uncle Vanya describe themselves as "estranged". Discuss the motif of estrangement as it appears in their speech.
R: The motif of estrangement referring to both one's alienation from others and oneself is central to understanding how Uncle Vanya's characters understand their respective problems. It occurs especially in reference to the brooding philosopher of the play, Dr. Astrov, whose intelligence and his plans for forest conservation make him different from others in the provinces and whose increasing age has estranged him from himself.
Professor Serebryakov also finds himself made strange through age, though his sense of alienation has more to do with his rheumatic, gout-ridden body. In his deathbed, his voice and body have become detestable and foreign. Indeed, he even dreams that his left leg belongs to someone else.
3. What is the significance of the land in Uncle Vanya?
R: The land is Dr. Astrov's "cause," giving purpose to his otherwise empty life. The motif of the land first appears when Sonya and Astrov deliver defend conservation. His dreams make Astrov a different man, a strange visionary in a play where most characters have either given up their aspirations or are entirely indifferent to such concerns.
The destruction of the land thus parallels the ruin in the characters' lives.