06 October 2013. Compare and contrast: The short story “The Lady with the Dog” authored by Anton Chekhov contains many riveting illustrations about an adulterous affair between a Russian banker and a woman he meets in Yalta on vacation…
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“A Hungry Artist” is another globally acclaimed short story written by Franz Kafka about two decades after Chekhov’s The Lady with the Dog and describes what the nature of an individual’s life is in very troublesome circumstances. The artist in the story is victimized by the society in which he lives and Kafka through creating this unique character adeptly explores the themes of isolation and deteriorated human relationships and how they influence a person’s actions. In this essay, I plan to compare and contrast “The Lady with the Dog” and “A Hungry Artist” on the basis of the themes of social isolation, victimization, and corrupted human relationships. Gurov, a Russian banker, is introduced by Chekhov as a very unhappy and unfaithful husband who is deeply dissatisfied by his marital life and frequently cheats on his wife. By having affairs with other women, he corrupts the relationship he has with his wife. Though despising all women in general, Gurov has a strange yet very refreshing encounter with an unfamiliar lady named Anna while vacationing in Yalta. Like every time before, Gurov intends to only have a short lasting affair with the woman and then simply part ways in order to save his reputation and protect himself from social condemnation. However, this time things take a different turn and Anna develops emotional feelings for Gurov. They start an affair spending most of their time in Yalta together and taking long drives. All of this continues while Anna’s husband is also expected to arrive in Yalta which stresses on the inevitable human need to connect with someone under whatever circumstances and how a person could sometimes be left so isolated and starving in a relationship that he/she would seek whatever means to fulfill that hunger. The threat of community rejection and social condemnation is always there for both Gurov and Anna but dissatisfaction in their respective marriages is a huge motivating factor for continuing the affair. Both characters’ reputations and marriages are at risk and social rejection is in itself a huge devastating consequence. Still, they cross all social barriers to indulge in a sense of closeness. Unlike other women in Gurov’s past with whom he has had affairs, Anna excites him with sadness and innocence in her character which he finds very difference and intoxicating even. Chekhov emphasizes Gurov's yearning with acute intelligence by expressing that “she, this little woman, in no way remarkable, lost in a provincial crowd, with a vulgar lornette in her hand, filled his whole life now, was his sorrow and his joy. He thought and dreamed” (Research Matic). Other women that Gurov has ever known have no trace of innocence in them but Anna is the only woman in his life who manages to really excite his desires and attract him towards herself. After arriving back in Moscow, Gurov’s idea that his memories of Anna will soon fade out by immersing himself in daily work routine does not remain successful. This is because his marriage brings him no happiness and only serves to foster the sense of loneliness which secretly gnaws at his heart every moment of his life. Anna’s company in contrast seems to be the perfect antidote for all the emptiness inside him yet it is fraught with the threat of social victimization and
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