#201 The Betrothed

Please find the final Chekhov short story interpreted by the amazing Constance Garrett: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/201.html It is a 7588 long story.

Travis review

Like the last story, The Bishop, there is a character whose days are limited due to an illness. More than the bishop, I’d venture to say the character Alexandr Timofeitch (aka Sasha) represents Chekhov as he sees himself. Sasha also reminds me a little of Vladmir in An Anonymous Story who also is slowly dying and desperately wants to make an impact in the world. Sasha is not the protagonist of the story, but he is a powerful voice urging the betrothed Nadya to seek more out of life than the pampered, sedentary privilege that will be cemented after her marriage to the unambitious Andrey Andreitch. It is as if Chekhov is urging the reader to dig deeper within themselves. Nadya is already fraught with anxiety and melancholy a month away from her wedding before Sasha does his prodding. While Sasha illuminates Nadya to the truth of the worthless life her family lives, Chekhov painstaking documents it with the boring evenings and listless afternoons with Granny and her mother, Nina. It is interesting that Sasha’s influence even causes Andrey Andreitch to call out his own idleness: “O Mother Russia! What a burden of idle and useless people you still carry! How many like me are upon you, long-suffering Mother!” Even Nina reveals her sorrow, breaking her contented façade. “You and your grandmother torment me… I want to live! …Let me be free! I am still young, I want to live, and you have made me an old woman between you!” Sasha’s influence saved Nadya from her mother’s fate when by “turning [her] life upside down.” And then, as if completing the Herculean task of getting Nadya to Petersberg, Sasha’s value is lost as he fades away in Moscow and later the Volga. Upon returning home, Nadya knows that she never will again as in “her mind rose the vista of a new, wide, spacious life, and that life, still obscure and full of mysteries, beckoned her and attracted her.” Sasha succeeded with altering Nadya’s life trajectory, and I’m sure Chekhov would be happy if we altered ours, reaching further for self-improvement, always discontented with idleness.

Rating: 8


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