The Duel by Anton Chekhov
First published in 1891, this morality tale pits a scientist, a government worker, his mistress, a deacon, and a physician against one another in a verbal battle of wits and ethics that explodes into a violent contest: the duel. When Laevsky, a lazy youth who works for the government, tires of his dependent mistress, Nadyezhda Fyodorovna, Von Koren, the scientist, delivers a scathing critique of Loevsky’s egotism, forcing the young man to examine his soul. The Duel is a tale of human weakness, the possibility of forgiveness, and a man’s ultimate ability to change his ways. It is classic Chekhov, revealing the multifaceted essence of human nature.