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Published: 22-10-2019

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Analysis of Anton Chekhov’s Short Story “Agafya”

Chekhov’s stories typically describe the little intricate moments in Russian life, focusing in on one particular character’s knowledge of a normal occasion and in undertaking so commenting on the character themselves. Agafya is a single of Chekhov’s longer short stories, and is told from the point of view of a man who returns to his old village to devote a night with an old pal, Savka. Savka is lovely, but lazy – and he often entertains ladies from the village in exchange for food or clothes. One of these ladies, Agafya, used to know the narrator, who tries to warn her, prior to leaving them alone. Agafya stays the whole evening and returns in the morning to her husband who sees exactly where she was clearly. The story has components of strangers, of class in the nation, of the illusion of enjoy and a sense of hopelessness. Throughout it all Chekhov utilizes a gentle tone, sympathetic to all his characters different motives and small symbols in the telling of these few hours.

As in numerous of Chekhov’s stories, the characters are familiar, yet foreign. Though absolutely everyone in this story does know every single-other, they have not been in close contact for an unclear quantity of time. This level of un-familiarity and un-clear boundaries is evident. Even even though the narrator suggests that “I knew Agafya well” when they are left alone together he speaks only “when it seemed awkward not to say anything”. Their conversation is brief, and there is almost a remorse expressed by the narrator as he warns her that Jacob may possibly “find out”, and she dismisses this, though not confidently. She is clearly shocked to have been located in this situation, upon arrival she “faltered, dropping a small bundle she carried and glancing at me.” With out any additional discussion on what past these two may have had, Chekhov creates a sense of embarrassment, disappointment and even defiant pride as Agafya remains in spite of her nerves and the warnings. They are not strictly strangers, but they are no longer close.

Elements of rich and poor, or class separation, are subtly acknowledged although not commented upon. The 3 principal characters all have diverse conditions, for various factors. Savka, the watchman is “not worth a single copeck” despite his talent for hunting, his effortless-going manner and his all-natural present for relationships. He gets by on his “old man’s position” and the meals they bring him, and regardless of the rough lifestyle, “that coarse, grey salt, these dirty, greasy cakes, those eggs as difficult as India-Rubber: how very good they all tasted!” there is a sweetness to his freedom and he seems entirely content material with his way of life, “smiling with pleasure” – he does not appear to thoughts that “he was identified to every person as a failure”. Agafya was “the switchman’s wife”, described as “a girl” – very young and who had married “a fine, bold peasant.” Her straightforward life is not satisfying though, and she puts herself through significantly discomfort to escape it to meet Savka she “ford[ed] the river by evening which had robbed her of her breath”, fearing her husband’s arrival she “impatiently wrung her hands”, and she “was attempting, in a couple of hours of happiness, to make up for the torture that awaited her”. The narrator’s class is not quite so clear… Agafya refers to him as “master”, and he is a sensible storyteller to Savka and he had clearly lived amongst these peasants previously, but how or why he left is unclear. The variations in class, and what can be anticipated of folks in these various classes is what is exciting.

The relationships in between not only these characters, but also the other males and women in their lives appear to be the key point made by this story. Savka with his charm attracts the wives of the town, but “he despised women” even though “he was graceful and comely” and his “gentle caresses” won them more than very easily. He does not pretend to love them, but they look to appreciate him bringing him gifts “out of pity”. Agafya and the other girls who come seem to have husbands – who care for them but “came home to [them] every single night” after days operating and even though they easily turn into “the frightened husband, browsing for his wife” with no specifics we are conscious that Savka has “a new one” not just because of his charm. These provincial lives are not idyllic and there seems to be no true affection except in between pals.

However in spite of these bleak realisations, Chekhov appears to sympathise with every person the “poor girl” who comes to Savka regardless of her husband, the husband who doesn’t recognize where his wife went, Savka who is so skilled and however lazy. The words he makes use of to portray Agafya who “seemed to be writhing below her husband’s gaze”, and Savka’s sympathetic and “aversion” to watching her suffer do not condemn or judge his characters, his job is merely to portray the moment. Furthermore, the narrator (who by very first individual discussion could actually be Chekhov) speaks mainly of birds who long to escape, who “fly away to escape getting frozen to death” in their native land. This seems symbolic of the narrator himself, having left his hometown lest he be frozen in 1 spot, in a single circumstance.

Chekhov’s small story paints a gorgeous, practically tragic scene in which we see an “eternally-resting”, beautiful Savka, Agafya who in her torment “she was suffering… her whole figure expressed struggle and vacillation” and a freedom looking for narrator who finds himself at a distance from his old place.
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