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Posted February 1, 2006
An Anonymous Story
Out of all of the short stories in The Essential Tales, An Anonymous Story embodies the style of Chekhov and serves as a great introduction to his many works. With his well-defined character development Chekhov relates the story of a young footman in the service of a wealthy businessman Georgy Ivanitch, otherwise known as Orlov. Through the eyes of the young man, whose name is not revealed we learn much about the personality of Orlav and the life he leads. As the story develops we are introduced to Zinaida Fyodorovna a young women who is having an affair with Ivanitch, their relationship continues to grow until she leaves her husband and decides to live with Orlov. Eventually he grows tired of her and is increasingly distant, Zinaida¿s condition grows worse as a result and she sinks into depression. The story then takes a shift as Zinaida begins to confide in the young footman and finally makes plans to escape with him. As with most of Chekhov¿s works we are allowed a glimpse into the workings of the human mind and as a result realize how often our poor choices affect us daily. On the same token however An Anonymous Story also embodies hope and optimism in the sense that life has infinite possibilities. Chekhov¿s transition from one set of characters to another is done seamlessly and the narrative gives us a sense of the story from human eyes. The changes that occur in the young footmen show us the power of love and we can¿t help but feel pity for Zinaida as she slips further away. One of the overbearing conflicts in the story is the one Zinaida fights against society. The constant internal struggle of what she is expected to do and what she feels she should do is apparent in her relationship with both Orlov and the unnamed protagonist. As readers we feel liberated when she decides to leave Orlov however, at the same time feel her uncertainty at what the future holds. Given its length we can only imagine how Chekhov was able to tell such a compelling tale. As the 3 main characters change and develop we come to better understand each one of them and how the choices they make affect their future for better or worse. During certain parts of the story emotions run high as we sympathize for the plight the characters find themselves in and celebrate when happiness is found. The gamut of human emotions is run throughout this short story and Chekhov paints a picture with every one, ¿The sunshine and the breeze from the sea caressed and fondled my sick body¿ My soul yearned towards that lovely sea, which was so akin to me and to which I had given up my youth. I longed to live ¿ to live ¿ and nothing more.¿ It is in this sense that we can truly appreciate Chekhov¿s ability to relate human emotions in a vivid and compelling story.
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