Personality Profile: Mrs. Popov in The Brute by Anton Chekhov In The Brute, Anton Chekhov scripts a relatively short, one-act play which features two prominent and distinct main characters. Chekhov himself was born in 1860 in Russia to a lower-middle class family. At age sixteen, he was literally abandoned by his family, an event which would shape the course of his life and writings in the years to come. Chekhov’s outlandish stories are generally classified as farces, which are defined as light, dramatic works in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect (Dictionary.com/Farce). The Brute is thus typical of Chekhov’s work. Written in 1888, it was originally entitled The Bear and was based on a French play about a man who cannot refrain from swearing. The two primary characters in the story are Mrs. Popov and Mr. Smirnov. Both characters are exaggerated forms of the stereotypes of man and woman. For that reason, Mrs. Popov’s character is interesting to analyze. Although one might think that her character would be portrayed unrealistically when read in light of today’s modern society, it shows the similarities of women in Chekhov’s dramatically different time period and those of today.
The Brute opens with Mrs. Popov holding a picture of her husband, mourning his death. Her butler, Luka, attempts to reconcile her by stating that it is time to move on. From his speech, the reader can deduce that Mr. Popov’s death did not happen yesterday, but also did not happen years ago. Luka tries to convince Mrs. Popov to date again, but she firmly states that she died with her husband and that she will continue to be faithful to him despite his absence. She openly states during this conversation that Mr. Popov cheated on her, yet she seems to take his unfaithfulness in stride. From the opening remarks, it seems as if Mrs. Popov is a woman committed never to date men again. She masks the fact...
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