The Lady with the Dog

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With "The Lady with the Dog", Anton Chekhov weaves an intricate tale of a man trapped in a loveless marriage, who seeks freedom in the arms of the very thing that oppresses him: women. Through the use of an omniscient voice, formal but subtle language, and setting changes, Chekhov masterfully reveals the inner-turmoil and confusion of a man falling prey to his own game of seduction. That is, until he meets Anna Sergeyeva, and his entire world changes. This tale is laced with irony and duality, the most important of which puts the protagonist in the reversed position of the seduced, a role that continues out throughout the entire story. Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, the center and main focus of this story, is described as being a man in his thirties, attractive and elusive, and well aware of his appeal to women. He is oppressed by his wife who, through her shallow self-righteousness, creates a hostile home environment; as a result, he is afraid of her. His affairs afford him a freedom and power he does not have at home. And because these affairs often end bitterly, he views love as "a regular problem of extreme intimacy," an inconvenience. He holds women in very low esteem even though he can't seem to live without them. He calls them the "lower race" and he feels justified in his views because of the dreadful experiences of his past. In all his affairs he is the seducer, the one in control, the decision maker. This all changes when Anna Sergeyeva arrives in his life. Suddenly, he unknowingly becomes the manipulated, the seduced. It is she who makes the first move… One evening he was dining in the gardens, and the lady in the beret came up slowly to take the next table.

Some would assume that it was simply crowded in the garden on that day and that she was taking the only available table. Consequently, by Gurov being the one to speak first, he is indeed the first to make a move. However, the language suggests a certain coyness in her slow approach....
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