Wa Chekhov

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The indirect characterization in The Betrothed and The Darling criticizing a woman’s role in 19th century Russian society

Society can influence every aspect of ones life. Through culture, media, and socialization the choice to allow this influence can create ones identity. The short stories The Betrothed and The Darling; written by Anton Chekhov, display similar generalizations of a woman’s role in Russian society. The Betrothed is a short story about a young woman who chooses to pursue education independently over an arranged, loveless marriage. The Darling presents a traditional Russian woman who continues to fall in love. Anton Chekhov reveals criticism of society through the contrasting roles of the main characters. The indirect characterization of the leading women in The Betrothed and The Darling convey their similar themes of the impact 19th century Russian Culture has on a woman’s role in society.

The acceptable woman in Russian society is illustrated through the character Olenka in The Darling. Olenka was a woman of tradition; she followed the Russian norm of allowing the man to be the leader. Olenka was “always fond of someone and could not exist without living”(212). Olenka is characterized as a woman who falls in love easily, throwing herself into a life of love. Olenka had many love affairs and presented herself as a “gentle, soft-hearted, compassionate girl”(213). The vulnerability of Olenka affected the choices she made in life. Through copious love affairs, Olenka still compromised her independence for love. Despite life’s disappointments, Olenka masked her flaws with a gentle character. Her dreams were not reality causing her to “cry out in her sleep” (215) emphasizing her true unhappiness. Olenka had become nothing more than a puppet, mocking the opinions and beliefs of each man she loved. She recognized that her ideas were not her own. She was a slave to love and was never satisfied. By creating the image of puppet to the men in her...
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