by Anton Chekhov
The play, written in 1900, tells the story of the Prozorov family. Three sisters, Olga, Maria, and Irina Prozorova and their brother Andrei, are living in the Russian countryside.
Olga works and cares for her family. Maria is married, but falls in love with the visiting Colonel Vershinin. Irina is the youngest, an idealistic girl who believes she find her love in Moscow. Andrei has aspirations to become a professor and has fallen for a local girl, Natasha, of whom his sisters do not approve.
The characters debate the meaning of life, the possibility of attaining happiness and more all while dreaming of a better life in Moscow. The first Act is full of hope and possibility, but as the play progresses and the characters’ lives begin to stagnant, that optimism diminishes.
It’s a sad story, no one really gets a happy ending, but the dialogue throughout the story is so beautiful. There’s also a lot of humor worked into the writing. It speaks to Chekhov’s talent that every scene isn’t somber. At the end they are all left wanting something, wishing for more knowledge and a better life.
BOTTOM LINE: I loved it. I hope I get a chance to see it performed someday. There are few plays I’ve read that show the drama of a crumbling family quite so eloquently.
“When we are dead, men will fly in balloons, change the fashion of their coats, will discover a sixth sense, perhaps, and develop it, but life will remain just the same, difficult, full of mysteries and happiness. In a thousand years man will sigh just the same, ‘Ah, how hard life is,’ and yet just as now he will be afraid of death and not want it.”
“I think man ought to have faith or ought to seek a faith, or else his life is empty, empty. . . . To live and not to understand why cranes fly; why children are born; why there are stars in the sky. . . . You've got to know what you're living for or else it's all nonsense and waste.”
I read this as part of the Let’s Read Plays yearlong event hosted by Fanda. From November 2012 to October 2013 participants will read 12 classics plays throughout the year, at least one each month.