Antov Chekhov

’s “Misery”: All Gray Essay, Research Paper

Antov Chekhov’s “Misery”: All Gray

Curtis W Moore

Eng. 102

Dr. McCoy

30 Oct. 96

Theme 2-1

In the story “Misery” by Antov Chekhov, I identified despair and misery

as a theme. The surroundings amplify the sentiment of the main character, Iona

Potapov. Cold and gray surrounds’ Iona Potapov and he is extremely miserable.

Iona Potapov wants to speak to another human about his son’s death but no one

will listen. Failing to speak with any humans, Iona is resigned to speak with

his horse.

At the beginning of the story Anton Chekhov sets the environment for the

story. “The twilight of evening.” (30) While reading this story, I envision

the scenery by what Anton Chekhov wrote. “Big flakes of wet snow are whirling

lazily about the street lamps, which have just been lighted, and lying in a thin

soft layer on the roofs, horses’ backs, shoulders, caps.” (30) The picture

portrayed is that of dull, gloomy, sludge and gray ash covering all of the

surrounding areas. ” The familiar gray landscape.” (30)

The dis-pair and loneliness that Iona feels are sorrow. “May it do you

good . . . But my son is dead, mate . . . Do you hear?” (33). Iona

desperately wants to tell about his sons’ death, and how it is affecting him.

“He wants to tell how his son was taken ill, how he suffered, what he said

before he died, how he died”(34). Ionas’ son has died, and he feels as though it

should have been he to the grave instead of his youthful son. “My son ought to

be driving not I”(34).

The gray dismal surroundings entrap Iona and make the desolation worse

for him. “Iona Potapov, the sledge-driver, is all white like a ghost” (30). “He

sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent”

(30). “He cannot think about his son when he is alone” (34). The surroundings

make him feel separated from his inner feelings. “But now the shades of evening

are falling on the town. The pale light of the street lamps changes to a vivid

color, and the bustle of the street grows noisier.”(31)

When Iona tries to tell of his sons death, he is unable to say what he

really feels. “Iona looks at his fare and moves his lips . . . Apparently he

means to say something, but nothing comes out but a sniff.”(31) He tries again,

and is able to say, in a detached tone, “My son . . . , er . . . my son died

this week, sir.”(31) The fare is an “officer in a military overcoat.” (31) After

this brief conversation Iona sits in solitude, alone with his thoughts. “Again

the wet snow paints him and his horse white. One hour passes, and then another .

. . “(31) Iona wants to forget about his sons death, “but to think of him and

picture him is insufferable anguish . . . “(34)

In the end of this story Iona is left speaking with his horse. “Now,

suppose you had a little colt, and you were own mother to that little colt . . .

And all at once that same little colt went and died . . . You’d be sorry,

wouldn’t you? . ..”(34) His horse listens as all good horses do. “The little

mare munches, listens, and breaths on her master’s hands.”(34) Iona is now

content on telling his story to the horse. “Iona is carried away and tells her

all about it.”(34)

Feelings and emotions overwhelm us when we manage with the death of a

loved-one. Guilt, blame, and denial are all part of the experiences we go

through in mourning the passing death. A large amount of what we experience is

directly related to the environment that we are in when the death occurs. Iona

had an especially tough time with this experience in the setting that he was

placed in. A perfect situation for Iona would have been a week off from work,

and surrounded by close friends and family.


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