The Representation of Marriage in The Old World Landowners and A Gentle Creature

1418 WordsJul 9, 20186 Pages
In their short stories, both Gogol and Dostoyevsky give the reader a snapshot into the life of two different couples and in doing so, present marriage in a way that is perhaps peculiar and unflattering to a modern reader. To a contemporary reader, however, these short stories would have been much more relevant, as along with a large amount of other Russian literature at the time, these two short stories are taken from real-life experience, and therefore, anyone can relate to the characters; for example, Dostoyevsky’s ‘A Gentle Creature’ was based on a local news item that many reading the short story at the time would have been aware of. Neither marriage is presented as a simplistic one and as two short stories written by Russian…show more content…
Similarly, Pulkheria’s death is unexpected as she is not of ill health, even telling her husband “No, I am not ill, Afanasy Ivanovich! ... I know I shall die this summer”; while Pulkheria appears to believe that the return of her cat was a death omen, it is also suggested that she simply does not want to live anymore. The deaths further differ in that while Pulkeria cared for her husband and made sure that everything was planned for after her passing, ensuring her husband’s wellbeing, the young wife in “A Gentle Creature” simply seized her chance to commit suicide as soon as her husband left the room, leaving him in complete shock and grief. The husband, however, completely misses the point of the young girl jumping out of the window with a religious icon in her hands; he claims that death is up to chance and says “If I’d only got back five minutes, five minutes sooner!” (Dostoevsky, 1995:99) whereas the girl was attempting to find a way to be redeemed in the eyes of god: she is asking for forgiveness. Both marriages are also represented as fairly abnormal and strained. The most obvious abnormality in Afanasy and Pulkeria’s marriage is their patronymic surname, suggesting that the couple are somehow related. This is further supported by the fact Pulkheria often treats Afanasy as a child and even refers to him as one, with Grayson

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