A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study


A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study


A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study

A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study

A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) is one of the great writers of Russia. As a writer, he practised short-story first and gave a definite form to it as an independent genre of prose literature and contributed much to establishing and popularizing this branch of literature. Artistically his short stories are lively and perfect in form brought him international fame and reputation as a great short story-teller. Later on, he became a model for many writers throughout the world and being influenced by him this genre of literature has been going on to be produced till now. Besides, being a short story-teller, he was a playwright also. He produced some plays, especially one-act plays—which also got wide popularity both on stage and as fine literature. Among Chekhov’s successful one-act plays, ‘A Marriage Proposal’ is a popular one. It is neither a comedy nor a tragedy but a farce. It is full of excitable humour both in plot and characters. Through this humorous play, he portrays the foolish arrogance over trifling that makes a quarrel and thus worsens the human relationship. Artistically, this play is a perfect one-act play.

The Plot of the play ‘A Marriage Proposal’ is trifling but through this, he shows how the obsession with one’s belongings beclouds the common sense of one that becomes enough to set a quarrel. Here in this play, a young boy of thirty-five loses his suit (a girl whom he wanted to marry) for being so much indulged in his obstinate conduct with his suit concerning a piece of land and a pet dog.

As the curtain rises an old man by the name of Stephen Stepenovitch Tschubukov, a farmer is seen sitting in his reception room. Then a young boy by the name of Ivan Vissiliyitch Lomov enters the room wearing dress-suit. Tschubukov has a young daughter of twenty-five. Lomov is their neighbour and he goes to that house to propose marriage to Natalia Stepenovna, the daughter of Tschubukov. But Lomov hesitates to tell it Tschubukov but at last, he tells that he has come to propose marriage to his daughter. Knowing that Tschubukov becomes glad and goes out of the room and sends his daughter Natalia to the sitting room. Here again, Lomov hesitates to tell her of his proposal. He gets no clue to reveal his desire, so he begins to flatter with her and suddenly he, by the by, says to her that a piece of land growing meadows belongs to him which adjoins the land of Natalia’s. Hearing this, Natalia interrupts and cross reply to each-other begins and it sets a quarrel between the two. Natalia says to Lomov:

“The meadows belong to us and I won’t give them up! I would not give them up! I won’t give them up!”

Their arguments reach height. Then Tschubukov, the father of Natalia enters the room and he also takes the part of Natalia and says that the piece of land belongs to them, not to Lomov. Quarrel runs on, they begin to call bad names to each other and at last, Lomov goes out of the house. 

Then Natalia comes to know from his father that Lomov had come to propose to her. Natalia then begins to lament and urges his father to bring him back as she was willing to be married to him. Then Lomov is brought back and they go to a mutual decision that they will talk about something else. Suddenly, being ashamed of her treatment of him, to turn the course of the discussion, Natalia suddenly talks about hunting and about dogs. Lomov had a dog named ‘Ugadi’ and Natalia also had a dog named ‘Otkatai’. They began to argue about their respective dogs. Lomov says that his dog is superior to that of Natalia. Thus another quarrel sets up. Lomov seems to lose his sense and behave like a madman and then he gets faint. At last, they try to come to a sense and propose marriage. They kiss the hand of each other. But Natalia was so obstinate that she tries to admit that Ugadi is worse than Otkatai. Lomov also seems to be obstinate and says that his Ugadi is better.

Thus the quarrel continues and then the proposal of marriage comes into meaningless. The plot comes to an end here. Through the plot, the dramatist has shown that in society there are some people who argue about trifles and thus the relationship with others worsens.

In this one-act play, there are three characters amongst whom Lomov is the hero and Natalia is the heroine. Lomov is the main attraction of the play. His obstinacy to his belongings reveals that he is a fool. He is childlike in nature and argues about a piece of land and a dog. He is full of humour both in his dealing and speech. He suffers from both mental and physical disorderliness. He is hesitant to express the proposal of marriage to Natalia and it proves that he is mentally weak. He is also flattering as he wants to win the favour of Tschubukov and flatters that—

“It’s not the first time I have had the honour of turning to you for assistance, and you have always.”

As Lomov is so is Natalia. She is childlike in behaviour. In her speech, she is humorous and adds the same humour like that of Lomov to the story.

Tschubukov is also the same in nature. He is the father of Natalia and hence he should have been wiser, but he also argues over the trifling.

The Structure of the play ‘A Marriage Proposal’ is coherent. The plot develops through definite five steps as while Lomov enters the reception room of Tschubukov and talks with him about the proposal of marriage with Natalia makes the Exposition of the plot. Secondly, when Natalia enters after the departure of Tschubukov, then the complication begins and it reaches the climax while arguing about the land of meadows, Lomov becomes so excited and goes out of the room. While Tschubukov re-enters the room and brings Lomov back and argues about dogs and then the denouement of the plot begins and while they kiss each other with a view to getting married then the plot of the play comes to an end.

Thus the structure of the plot of the paly ‘A Marriage Proposal’ is coherent and logical. In constructing the plot the dramatist suffers from no fault or weakness.

The Dialogues of dramatic persons in the play ‘A Marriage Proposal’ are also very sparing and dramatic. As are the characters and their nature so are their dialogues. Each dialogue leads the plot ahead to a logical conclusion.

Humour is the main taste to be enjoyed in the play. All three characters, including the plot, are humorous. To argue on such trifles as a piece of land and dogs is certainly humorous. Lomov is the most humorous of the three. His dress is comic because he wears it gorgeously like a groom. Moreover, his physical illness and the innumerable disturbances in his limbs are humorous. While he says:

“I have a weak heart, continual palpitation, and I am very sensitive and always getting excited. My lips begin to tremble and the pulse in my right temple throbs terribly. I hardly lie down and begin to doze before something in my left side begins to pull a tug and sometimes begins to hammer in my left shoulder and in my head too.”

Again while he becomes too much excited, he says:

“Where’s the hat? My heart! Where shall I go? Where is the door?”— All these speeches are certainly humours.

Natalia’s obstinacy to her demands, while she repeats waywardly, is humorous:

“The meadows belong to us and I won’t give them up! I won’t give them up! I won’t give them up!”

Thus the plot including the characters and their dialogues and dealings with each other– all give rise to nothing but only laughter. There is no slight touch of pathos. Hence the play is a humorous play — that is to say, it is a Farce— ( A Farce is a comic drama in which a trifle side of life in society is portrayed with the foolishness of characters)

To conclude it is to say that this play, ‘A Marriage Proposal’ is a fine humorous play to be enjoyed only for laughter with all the artistic perfection of a play. 0 0 0

A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study

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A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study

N. B. This article entitled ‘A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study’ originally belongs to the book ‘World Drama Criticism‘ by Menonim Menonimus. A Chekhov | A Marriage Proposal | An Analytical Study

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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