"Misery" by Anton Chekhov has a simple plot. The protagonist of this short story Iona Potapov, is a cab driver in St. Petersburg who is grieving his son’s recent death. Being a cab driver allows Iona to encounter many different people of various backgrounds, but he is unable to communicate his feelings. He desperately searches for the opportunity to talk about his grief, but nobody is interested in sharing the burden on misery. Each of his passengers rejects his attempts at conversation and depresses Iona further. Iona’s roommates offer no comfort either, as a young man falls asleep when he tries to vent. Unable to sleep, Iona heads outside to take care of his mare, but instead finds a companion to converse with. Although the main idea is simple, Chekov uses numerous literary techniques to create the story.
“Misery” opens as a third person point-of-view story, describing how depressed Iona looks from afar. The reader is immediately introduced to his sorrows and the tone is revealed. The rest of the story is told from a first person’s point-of-view, with Iona being the central character. With the help of the point of view, Chekhov is able to display Iona’s emotions without difficulty. The tone is shown through the protagonist’s thoughts as well as what he says during the story; he is in deep grief for the death of his son. The tragic occurrence of his son’s recent death starts to take a toll on his emotions and he is simply looking for emotional support to help him recover from the event. Chekhov uses the dialogue between Iona and his cab fares to present Iona’s desperation for support. When he attempts to talk to his cab fares, he hesitates to bring up the devastating topic, knowing that his passengers are uninterested. Anytime he builds up the courage to bring up his son’s death, his efforts are shot down and no sympathy is given. All Iona needs is an outlet; a body willing to listen to his sorrows. The author uses the winter, as the time and Russia, as the...
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