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In the short story “Lady with a Pet Dog”, Anton Chekhov is ridiculed for being immoral for he depicts an adulterous relationship between the characters Dmitry Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna. Since Chekhov refrained from giving his views on this situation he has been condemned for being objective. In reality, Anton Chekhov knows what they are doing is wrong and immoral yet it is just the simple fact that he feels it is not his job to judge them. He writes, “Let the jury judge them; it s my job simply to show what sort of people they are.” Chekhov s go on to say, “Stealing horses is an evil. But that has been known for ages without my saying so”; the same goes for adultery. We as a society know what is wrong and what is accepted, never the less it isn t Chekhov s job to tell us. True, the moral aspects in the story might be a little off, but Anton Chekhov should not be judged for the way he presents his story. It is not Chekhov s job to tell us what is right or wrong, it is the readers responsibility to look at the situation and form their own opinion on the matter.
Critics accuse Chekhov for being objective, but if you were to look at his second profession you would be able to realize why he dictated the story in the fashion he did. As well as being a well know writer, Chekhov was also a physician. Since this position calls for strict objectivity, for him to add his opinion wherever he pleased may have lead to fatality. Chekhov carried this idea into his writings. In one interview he said, “My business is to be talented, that is, to be capable of selecting the important moments from the trivial ones .” Anton simply believed that his opinion on the whole situation between Dmitry and Anna was irrelevant. If Chekhov thought that his perspective should
of be added, then he would have done so. The truth is, the story is better without his Chekhov s insight on the whole situation.
If Chekhov would have added any sort of details about how he felt on the situation, he would have taken away from the entirety story. For instance, if Chekhov where to give his opinion about Dmitry and Anna when they first meet, then it would throw off the whole story. He would have to continue doing this for every instance that Dmitry and Anna meet, in order for him not to be considered objective. In reality, if this were to happened then this short story would quickly turn into a novel. In his argument, Chekhov tries to defend this by saying, “You see, to depict horse-thieves in seven hundred lines I must all the time speak and think in their tone and feel their spirit, otherwise, if I introduce subjectivity, the image becomes blurred and the story will not be as compact as all short stories ought to be.” This also applies for Dmitry and Anna. If Chekhov wanted to depict the feelings they, then he would he would have to write from inside the characters minds. Which is exactly what he did, but obviously the critics did not agree. What the critics don t understand is that he wrote this entire story with the simple point that he wanted the readers to add in their own opinion. To do this, Chekhov had to be objective. If he wanted to force his opinion of the whole situation his readers then he would have, but he wants them to view the story from a different perspective.
Chekhov also intentionally left the story open for the reader to put in their own two sense. In doing this he said, “I am afraid of those who will look for tendentiousness between the lines and who are determined to see me either as a liberal or a conservative.”
Obviously his fear became reality in this situation. What the reader does not comprehend, is what the author was trying to accomplish by doing this. In his argument Chekhov pointed out, “When I write, I reckon entirely upon the reader to add for himself the subjective elements that are lacking in the story.” Chekhov is not trying to force his opinions on anyone. The reader should know that the actions of the characters are completely immoral. If one can t comprehend that the actions of Dmitry and Anna are wrong, then that is their own moral beliefs.
Anton Chekhov has been accused of being immoral just for the simple fact that he did not give his own opinion. The only way he should be accused for being unscrupulous, is if he came straight out and said that he had no problem with the actions of Dmitry and Anna, and that they were completely justified. Anton Chekhov did the exact opposite, but did not point it out. If you were to look at the ending of the story Chekhov says, “Then they spent a long time taking counsel together, they talked of how to avoid the necessity for secrecy, for deception, for living in different cities, and not seeing one another for long stretches of time. How could they free themselves from these intolerable fetters?” What Chekhov is trying to say is that they could never make the situation work. There is to many things that are already wrong for the relationship to carry on. Yet this is still an immoral act to the critics just due to the simple fact that he did not say the relationship was terminated and they returned to their respective spouses.
Chekhov has been quoted saying, “Man is what he believes.” The critics believe that he is completely objective in his story. Personally, I believe Chekhov has done nothing wrong with the way he wrote this story. He believed strongly that the reader
should think what they want and wish to think. Chekhov said, “A writer is not a confectioner, a cosmetic dealer, or an entertainer. He is a man who has signed a contract with his conscious and his sense of duty.” Chekhov wrote what he felt and should not be misjudged for his writing technique.
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