A Problem by Anton Chekhov - Essay Example

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This essay explores the Anton Chekhov’s short story, A Problem that revolves around the Uskov family conclave concerning the problem of a forged promissory note cashed by Sasha Uskov, a young man of twenty-five. The focus in this paper is on the character of Sasha…
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A Problem by Anton Chekhov
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Download file to see previous pages The paper tells that the three uncles of the protagonist, Sasha, debate the measures that can be taken to salvage the situation, and “save the family honor”. Chekhov’s centers his story, and the denouement of the plot, round the character of Sasha Uskov.  Sasha is depicted as an immature, dissolute youth. The story’s depiction of the relationships and interactions between the uncles and Sasha demonstrates an unbridgeable gap between the two generations and further emphasizes Sasha’s moral bankruptcy. By finally making Sasha aggressively confront Ivan Markovitch, the only uncle who is sympathetic towards him, the author effectively develops situational irony in the story. This ultimate act of betrayal shows Sasha to be beyond redemption. Chekhov uses the character of his protagonist, Sasha Uskov, to express his criticism of the aristocratic youth of nineteenth-century Russian society, who fritter away their lives in the wanton, criminal pursuit of pleasure. Sasha Uskov is an immature young man of no ability, who is ruled by an “inward emptiness”. His dissipated lifestyle has sapped his vitality. On the very threshold of manhood, he has acquired the jaded personality and ennui of an older man who has gone through the vicissitudes of several decades of life. He is mired in debt, due to leading the life of a reprobate. He has made it a habit to sponge on his companions. He does not have a single loving relationship to redeem the barrenness of his life. His world consists only of “his friends and his women”, with who his relationship stands only on a monetary basis. Their respect is only for the money in his pocket: once his money runs out, they will drop him. In this context, the lust for money, as the only means of purchasing pleasure, becomes the motivating factor of his character – “He must get hold of some money, come what may!”. Sasha leads a worthless existence, with no profession or aim. In spite of a lifestyle devoted to the pursuit of pleasure, he is moved by self-pity and considers his lot in life to be a hard one. He is a weakling who boosts his own self-esteem, and consoles himself, by considering himself to be “soft, emotional”. He does not have the courage to accept responsibility for his actions. He justifies his forgery, asserting that “He was not to blame; it was the fault of circumstances”. There can be no clearer indictment of Sasha’s personality than the statement that “a rush of joy flooded his soul....” only at the thought of being among bottles, women, and friends. It is clear that Sasha has no conception of what it is to be a gentleman. The moral rot has set in even in his childhood – he has been expelled from school at an early age. Under the surface of Sasha’s indifference and ineffectual responses, there is a simmering tendency to violence. Anyone who is seen to thwart his desire for money is in danger of becoming a victim of this lurking violence. Chekhov clearly demonstrates Sasha’s lack of moral fiber in his characterization of his protagonist. Sasha suffers from a deep sense of alienation from his family. Their forgiveness does not matter to him in the least, and he is indifferent to their good or bad opinion. The contrasting perception of Sasha and his uncles towards his crime makes the distance between them evident. On his part, Sasha “felt neither terror, shame, nor depression,” for his act of forgery. He is quite at a loss to understand why his uncles are making such a furor over this issue of “a paltry fifteen hundred roubles”. To the family, Sasha’s transgression is so grave that it has to be kept secret at all costs. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Wonderful paper! Used it to finish an assignment for a literature course. It was easy as ABC, for the first time in my life.
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