Class conflict in chekhov – Сustom Literature essay

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Or Buy This Paper Essay Subject: Examines author's humanistic, non-ideological approach to socioeconomic issues in his short stories.... Pages / 1800 Words 8 sources, 11 Citations, MLA Format Rating 32.00 More Papers on This Topic Paper Abstract: Examines author's humanistic, non-ideological approach to socioeconomic issues in his short stories. Paper Introduction: In a number of Anton Chekhov's short stories, he addresses the roles which class plays in personal and social interaction. This study will examine class as a theme in Chekhov's short fiction, focusing on its dehumanizing effects on both the poor and weak and the rich and powerful. In general, Chekhov does not present political, social or ideological arguments in his stories, but instead uses class as a fact of life which shapes, or misshapes, individual characters and human relationships.

As Kirk writes in her analysis of "The Peasants," the story "is not so much a. . . social commentary on rural life as it is an expose of the dehumanizing effects of poverty everywhere" (Kirk 100).

Chekhov focuses on class primarily as a window through which to view the human condition and especially the mistreatment of human beings by other human This is not to say that Chekhov expresses through his characters theargument that class differences are not important. . Olga's artist friends disdained her husbandfor what they saw as his bourgeois motivations, failing to see that he wasfar more a fulfilled human being than they. Although they are indeed all poor, Anyuta, as a female and the mostpoor, resides at the bottom of the social order. The girl clearly does not have the funds or wherewithal tolive on her own, but more significant is her mistreatment as a female atthe hands of males: Particularly successful are the numerous stories in which Chekhov studies man's.

The crowning glory of class ignorance is seen in thehusband's idealization of his wife. Just as the father utters thebeseeching words to a group of passing "gentlemen," the boy, ill fromhunger, asks for oysters, motivated by an advertisement on a placard. In "the Grasshopper," as in so many other stories, Chekhov pits the modesty and dignity of a life spent in unsung labor against the tinsel of success (Troyat 157). Boston: Twayne, 1981.

Troyat, Henri. The father, in his agony ofhunger and shame and terror, certainly brought no laughter, but much sorrowand compassion, to this reader. At any moment, from day to day, anyindividual might be a member of either class. If he is calling for anything in this story, it is arevolution not in society but in the human heart.

Norton,1979.---. She was ready to go down on her knees, and before whom? He acknowledges his role in this debasement of hiswife, but his greatest rage is addressed to Pasha: "Get away from me, youwretch! Chekhov and Women.

In general, Chekhov does not present political, social or ideologicalarguments in his stories, but instead uses class as a fact of life whichshapes, or misshapes, individual characters and human relationships. If anyrevolutions of the heart were indeed created by "Oysters," one wasevidently not created in the heart of Johnson. NewYork: Twayne, 1993.

Kirk, Irina. . A colleague of her husband informs her that her own husbandwas far more a genius than all of her artist friends put together. Chekhov is consistent in his view that class does play a part inman's inhumanity to man, but his focus in not on ideology but oncompassion. . Oxford: Oxford U P, 1994.

De Maegd-Soep, Carolina. New York: E. P. Indeed, they are, butChekhov's characters generally believe in a personal revolution, aspiritual revolution, which is more likely than a social revolution whichdoes away with socioeconomic differences. . In "The Betrothed," for example, as Valency points out, Sasha'sidealistic lecture to Nadya about her idleness and the work which is donefor her by others soon gives way to a less socioeconomic and more spiritualpreoccupation: Almost at once, she outgrows both [Sasha] and his ideas.

The boyand his father are starving because the father cannot find work, while thecity around them bustles with well-fed people whose response to thepredicament of the two is the expression of "curiosity and amusement." Again, Chekhov is not out to revolutionize the structure of societyand the economy. Within a minute a crowd gathers round and watches me with curiosity and amusement.

Clearly, the reader's sympathies are meant to rest with Pasha, therepresentative of the lower class. True, the medical student allows Anyuta to stay in a moment of pity-taking, but it is likely that he will continue to abuse her, and that it isonly a matter of time until he finally throws her out on the street. The question for Chekhov in thematter of class is how successful the individual is in becoming a lovingand giving person, regardless of income, gender, social standing, orprofession. Anton Chekhov: A Study of the Short Fiction.

Dutton, 1986.

Valency, Maurice. I am sitting at a table and eating something slimy, salty, smelling of damp and mould (Chekhov Early Stories 25). . . However, as if to perhaps deliberately de-emphasize the economicaspect of class, Chekhov writes such stories as "The Grasshopper," in whichintellectual rather than economic differences create and sustain classconflict and the damage done by such conflict.

Again, the issue of class in Chekhov has much moreto do with inhumane treatment by individuals of other individuals, ratherthan with any grand critique of the various interrelated structures of thesociety and economy. . As De Maegd-Soep writes, "'Anyuta' tells thepitiful story of a naive girl who is misused by students who regard her asa mere object" (218). Olga's marriage to a doctoris unsatisfying. The"gentlemen" do not hear or simply ignore the father but ply the boy withoysters as if he were a monkey eating caviar: I remember a strong hand dragging me into the brightly-lit eating-house.

The conflict in the story is between the poorchorus girl who says she must do whatever is needed to survive, and thewealthy wife whose husband is sleeping with the chorus girl. . This irony is compounded as the husband emerges from the other room after his wife's departure and contemptuously pushes Pasha aside as he declares how pure his wife is. She has an affairwith one such artist, and the affair soon goes bad.

She becomes aware that his words, his thoughts, and even the intelligentsia to which he belongs, are already "something out of date, old-fashioned, long ago finished and done with and perhaps already dead and buried" (Valency 258-259). Conveniently, thebourgeois husband fails to remember that he himself has probably performedfar more humbling acts with Pasha than his bourgeois wife was ready toperform. Pasha is left weeping, with nothing (Johnson 27-28). Class in "The Grasshopper" has less to do with divisions over moneyor property than about perception and self-perception.

The story involves a boy and his father who arenearly starving. That the story ends withher still living there is the result only of the pity taken on her by themedical student Klochkov. . Although she protests to the wife that thehusband is the true culprit, Pasha knew she was having sex with a marriedman and that it would likely come to no good for all concerned. Anyuta seems to be a sort of slave for the student and artist (andothers?) in the furnished apartments in which this group of young and poorlives.

She sees him as a dull and common man, a relative failureeven as a doctor. The story of Olga is the story of class conflict between people whogo quietly about their business, serving others, seeking the truth in theirown quiet ways, and people who live ostentatiously (whether in wealth or ineccentricity) and selfishly, caring nothing about anybody but their ownhermetic existences. . In this case, it is Iona thecabdriver whose son has just died, who cannot get any of his fares tolisten to him or care about his misery, and who ends up pouring his heartout to his little horse.

Even in stories where socioeconomic class seems to be developing as afocus in a story, it soon gives way to more human (rather than ideological)concerns. Her husband becomessick and dies. does she realize how wrong she was. "Misery" reflects the same small, individual, human focus on class, as opposed to the grander, social perspective.




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