The Lady with the Pet Dog Essay

The Lady with the Pet Dog Essay

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A story of lost and born again love: both Anton Chekhov's 1899 original as well
as Joyce Carol Oates' version of "The Lady with the Pet Dog" deal with the love lives and
the unhappiness of two individuals. Anton Chekhov tells the story of Gurov – a well-todo
man from Moscow who is disillusioned by his unfulfilling marriage. During a
vacation in Yalta, Gurov is acquainted with Anna, a young, upper-class lady who, as it
turns out, is similarly disappointed with her love-life and husband. What starts out as a
simple affair between Gurov and the Anna turns into a relationship which neither want to
give up. Both eventually arrange to see each other regularly and discover, that they want
to continue their affair despite being aware that this is not accepted by the society within
which they live. Staying together is the only thing that gives them the feeling of being
safe and happy.
Joyce Carol Oates borrows this original plot and creates a new story which
describes a similar issue from the viewpoint of the woman. In addition, she transposes the
entire setting to fit in with the 1970s atmosphere and societal circumstances. Here, the
main character, Anna, becomes acquainted with a man, identified only as "the stranger",
during a vacation trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts. As in Chekhov's version, both
characters fall in love with each other and thus finally find new hope and love in their
lives.
Chekhov's Gurov character can be defined as a man who lost faith in his wife and
marriage because he feels that he cannot relate to her any longer. He recognizes that she
Matthias M. Edrich
is "of limited intelligence, narrow-minded and dowdy" – in no way as "worldly" and
educated as he would like her to be. Thus, Gurov has tu...


... middle of paper ...


...story is played by
the pet dog. In the first text, the dog is the only element that helps Gurov recognize Anna
during his first few encounters with her. The white Pomeranian is the one detail which
sets Anna apart from all the others in Yalta – not her "fair hair" or "medium height"
which could apply to anyone. Similarly, in Oates' version, the dog's main purpose seems
to lie in adding a point of reference to "the stranger" or further catching Anna's attention
and providing for a first interface between her and the man. According to the text, the dog
not only makes Anna feel comfortable speaking to its owner but also provides "the
stranger" with a pretense for starting a conversation. Perhaps the situations in both
versions of the story would not have occurred without this "pet dog" as initial
intermediary between Anna and her soon-to-be lover.
Matthias M.

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