Chekhov's 'Misery'

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Chekhov's ‘Misery'

In Anton Chekhov's ‘Misery' we are introduced to Iona Petapov, a sledge driver grieving from the loss of his son. Iona longs to express his anguish, yet he cannot find anyone willing to listen to his woes. From all the bystanders that Iona encounters, each person is too preoccupied and careless to hear his story. Iona's constrained ‘misery' along with the ignorance of his fellow men, leaves him no choice but to share his despair with his horse; which proves Iona is as ignorant as all the men who disregarded him because the horse is the only other substantial character who is as overlooked as Iona himself.

The first passenger Iona picks up is an Officer going to Vyborgskaya. Iona struggles to explain his ‘misery' by silently moving his lips. After being inquired by the Officer he "gives a wry smile, and straining his throat, brings out huskily: ‘My son…, er… my son died this week, sir." (Pg 70; line 13) Iona's fare proceeds to ignore his comment and asks him to speed up the drive. With a few sullen attempts to stare the Officer down, he is continuously disregarded. Iona's next travelers are a hunchback and his two companions. After they verbally and physically abuse him, he once again waits for a brief moment to share his story. The same simple sentence about the death of his son leads to the same response of ignorance. After his passengers arrive at their destination, Iona's desolation is doubled. "The misery which has been for a brief space eased comes back again and tears his heart more cruelly than ever." (Pg 71; line 48) Iona waits for passengers to share his grief, hoping that it will ease his pain, yet no one cares enough to listen to what he has to say. He sits and gazes at the people rushing to and fro, and asks himself how it is possible that none of these people are willing to listen to him.

Once Iona comes back to the dwelling he rests at, he sees a fellow cabman awaken rather thirstily from his sleep. Iona offers him...
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