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An Analysis of the Use of Action to Find Happiness

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In a hotel suite, Dominic Cobb’s wife jumps off a ledge and dies in hopes of returning to what she thinks is the real world. Cobb must then decide whether he should forget the past and move on to find his own enjoyment or stay within an unconstructed dream space, where he is able to live with his wife. In Uncle Vanya, Anton Chekhov tells the story of a family of unhappy souls who have trouble finding pleasure in the world. As a result, Andre Gregory and Louis Malle use the opening sequence of Vanya on 42nd Street to foreshadow Chekhov’s argument that humans must take action find happiness, but only after they make peace with the past.
Throughout Anton Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya, idle characters are unhappy while active characters are more content, which shows that action gives way to happiness. For instance, Yelena claims there is no happiness for her on the earth (Chekhov 171). However, Yelena does not do any work around the house, and she depends on her husband, Serabryakov, for food, lodging, and money. Others cherish and love her, and she has all the necessities of life without working, yet she is still upset. Since she has all needs for free, the only possible cause to her sorrow is her idleness. Furthermore, Vanya asserts that he is lazy and does nothing except complain; yet, he still claims that his brother-in-law, Serabryakov, has “destroyed my [his] life (Chekhov 148, 186).” Following the death of his sister, Vanya has worked for Serabryakov around the estate. However, since Yelena’s arrival, Vanya has become an idle man and no longer works for Serabryakov. Since he is not active enough to move forward in life, he lurks over the past, which makes him an unhappy man. On the other hand, Waffles, who constantly plays his gu...

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...ife better, one must follow the path to happiness and move forward instead of waiting for someone else to guide them to the end of the path. With common street-signs and the characters in Uncle Vanya, the directors of Vanya on 42nd Street reveal that humans are able to find true happiness, but only after they make peace with the past.
Chekhov’s argument has a monumental impact to the hopeless, and reassures society that even though humans are dominated by repentance, happiness can still be found. Through the use of illusions and character behaviors, Chekhov demonstrates how the failure to let go of the past leads to complications with happiness. With street signs, Malle and Gregory indicate that in order to prevent from jumping into a realm of misery, humans must take action to reach happiness, where it is fundamental for the subconscious to leave behind the past.
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