The Lady with the Dog by Anton Chekhov and Marriages and Infidelities by Joyce Carol Oates

1567 WordsJun 17, 20187 Pages
In an interview given to Joe David Bellamy, Joyce Carol Oates explained how she was “putting together a group of short stories called Marriages and Infidelities, which include stories that are re-imaginings of famous stories.” While the stories in her collection were meant to be autonomous, they were also testaments of her love and devotion to other writers who helped her become the writer she is today. She showed her “marriage” to Anton Chekhov by reworking his short story “The Lady with the Dog,” almost a century after the original was published. The “infidelities” consist of transgressions in the form, characterisation and setting, and the shift of the emphasis from male to female characters. Nevertheless, comparing both stories shows…show more content…
In reimagining Chekhov’s story through her own eyes, Oates has allowed her Anna room for a development that Chekhov’s Anna does not have, therefore making her the more psychologically complex of the two women. Prone to making mistakes, Chekhov’s and Oates’ characters are sometimes vicious and not particularly heroic; but it is their humanity which makes readers identify with them as they mature and change over time. Chekhov admirably positions the audience to recognise how the carefully chosen settings accompany the characters’ emotional evolution, together with the development of their affair throughout the story. At Yalta, a vacation spot of alleged immorality, Gurov and Anna are allowed the freedom to act without the supervision of their controlling spouses. Moreover, the resort is densely packed with romantic elements—the scent, the grasshoppers, the heat and the sea—which could be argued to conspire for the affair to begin. Gurov is at first portrayed as insensitive to Anna’s consternation, but as he gradually grows more affectionate to her readers are shown the beginning of his dawning. The hustle and bustle of Moscow does not erase Anna from his mind, and Gurov struggles to understand his own emotions against a backdrop of debauchery. In the unnamed town of S-, readers discover the recurring motif of greyness which exemplifies the feeling of entrapment shared by the characters. The colour is to be found

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