What is the fascination with grief and suffering that caused Anton Chekhov to entwine these two sad emotional states into everything he wrote? “Reading Anton Chekhov’s stories, one feels oneself in a melancholy state. Everything is strange, sharp, lonely, motionless, helpless” (Nebraska 1). Further, according to William Gerharde, Chekhov answered this very question with the following: “When you depict sad or unlucky people, and want to touch the reader’s heart, one should try to be cold— it gives their grief, as it were, a background, against which it stands out in greater relief” (Gerharde 110).
While Chekhov uses pain and suffering in all his stories, he does an especially effective job with two short stories “Misery” and “Vengeance.” In both, Chekhov introduces a similar theme, although it is first suggested in “Misery”: “The theme of the individual isolation is suggested in many of Chekhov’s early stories, but it is first fully developed in the brief sketch ‘Misery’,” (Winner 137). While reading “Misery,” the reader can absorb Chekhov through the twined themes of loneliness and isolationism. This enables characters to become so real that each reader can relate through the characters and the situation. One reason “Misery” is so well thought of by critics is that “the story takes a powerful look at the lack of human involvement and compassion towards one man’s grief” (Guevara 2). Of course, almost all who read the story have felt such loneliness or grief at one time or other in their lives and can, therefore, relate to the protagonist’s pain and isolation.
In addition, the atmosphere in “Misery,” suggest grayness and depression, a setting that immediately conveys ...
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... is factually correct, a trivial kind of truth, though a kind central to works of verisimilitude; saying that which, by virtue of tone and coherence, does not feel like lying, a more important kind of truth; and discovering and affirming moral truth about human existence— the highest truth of art” (Creighton, 1).
Chekhov is able to contribute to all three of the ways there is to “tell it like it is” when writing fiction. Not only does he tell the truth in his writing, he does so in a down to earth and straightforward way. Reading Chekhov, is like reading someone’s daily journal. It is real, it is intense, and it makes the reader deeply feel for the characters involved in each individual story. Pain and suffering are commonly used emotions, so people can relate easily to the characters. This is what makes Chekhov such a successful writer, and why he was adored by all.
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