Anton Pavlovich Chekhov is one of the famous playwrights and short story writers of Russia and is considered to be one of the greatest writers who had been composing the literary pieces that fall under the genre of short fictions. There are four classic plays that mark the career of Chekhov as a playwright. The writer is known among the various critics as one of the best short story writers of the era. Anton Chekhov is known to be one of the three authors who are known to be the seminal figures involved in the birth of the early modernism in the genre of the theatre. The Cherry Orchard (1904) and the Seagull (1896) are among the most famous works of the Russian playwright that had gained the writer huge accolades from the critics and the readers of literature. The following essay deals with the revelation of the inner side of the various characters that have been portrayed in the concerned short story in discussion, Misery, composed by the famous Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov.
Misery is one of the short stories of Anton Chekhov that was first published in the Peterburgskaya Gazeta in the year 1886 after which the short story had been republished for many times in various anthologies and finally underwent some minor changes after which it gained entry into the third volume of the Collected Works of Anton Chekhov. The story majorly deals with the loneliness of the father whose son has recently left for his Heavenly abode. The story revolves around the desperation in the father that leads him to talk to every person he meets about his loneliness after the death of his son. The story clearly points out the frustration that has been built up within the father due to the loss of his only companion with whom he could share his experiences. The author points out the fact that the father has been trying to strike up a conversation with all those people whom he had been meeting in his daily life regarding the loneliness that he had been facing and the ways in which he has shattered after the death of his only son. The reader finds it very heartbreaking that none of the people whom the protagonist approaches in order to share his sorrows do actually pay heed to the suffering of the grieving father. The story finds it end with the fact that the bereaved father starts talking to his own horse after facing a lack of reciprocation from all the human beings whom he had approached for sharing his own grief. The author in this masterpiece tends to portray the miserable lives of the people who have been residing in the then society. The various critics of the short story have widely acclaimed the short story writer for his ability to bring forth the drama that is present in the various day-to-day affairs that have been taking place in the concerned society. The critics stated that Misery is one of those masterpieces of the Russian short story writer that portrays the actual face of the concerned society that is revealed by the way they deal with the bereaving father who had lost his only son.
The major characters in the short story are the cab driver, Iona Potapov, the four passengers that he ferries to their destination and the young man whom he finds to be fast asleep in the yard. The story does not have any supporting character unless the reader considers the horse of the protagonist of the story to be one of the characters of the story. The four passengers that the concerned cab owner ferries to their destination might only be termed to be strangers due to the fact that they have not shown any kind of humane interaction with the concerned cab driver who had been grieving the loss of his only son. The story does not portray the presence of any female character by themselves, with other female characters or with any other male escort. All the characters that have been depicted in the story might be termed to be flat characters since the reader is unable to find any emotional upheavals that are depicted by the concerned characters that have been depicted in the short story.
The protagonist of the short story, Iona Potapov, is a cab driver by profession who is described to be an old man who has been suffering from the loss of his only son in the recent times. The old cab driver is seen to be bereaving the loss and in need of the compassion from the fellow human beings whom he had been ferrying during the evening. The story opens with the cab driver sitting all alone in his own sleigh that is driven by the horse that is already attached to the sleigh. The old man had been waiting in the snow in the expectation of a certain fare that might help him earn some money. The cab driver is seen to be letting the snow to cover him as he doubles over as far as is possible for the human body. The body language of the concerned driver reveals the mental suffering that he had been experiencing due to the loss of his young son in very recent times. The reader can very easily point out the fact that the old man is in need of a partner with whom he might share his own feelings and the grief an d sorrow that he had been experiencing due to the death of his son.
The first person he comes across is an officer who is described to be dressed in the clothes of a military officer. The officer provides the protagonist with the address that he has to reach and proceeds to criticize the way in which the old man had been driving the horse-driven sleigh. The old man tries to strike a conversation with the person but is met with the lack in the interest of the officer. The mention of the death of the son by the old father catches the attention of the passenger but only for a fleeting second and then the officer rebukes the cab driver and asks him to concentrate on the road instead of sharing his grief. The cab reaches the destination in sometime and the old man is again left in the snow with no companion except his own horse.
The second fare that is met by the old cab driver is a group of three young men who are obnoxious in nature and continuously makes fun and humiliates the grieving father. The old and lonely father mentions that he has recently lost his only son. The passengers who had been riding the sleigh seem to remain unaffected by the concerned sorrowful incident. The passengers of the cab seem to indifferent to the sorrow of the old father and instead rebukes him saying that all the living beings have to die at a certain point of time. The reader finds that the passengers of the sleigh do not display any kind of concern or compassion for the old cab -driver who had just lost his only son in the recent times. The young passengers of the cab do not provide the concerned cab driver with any kind of compassion but instead humiliate him and torment him with their words and berating activities. The cab driver reaches the destination point of these three young men and the moment when they leave, the cab driver is again left all alone in the streets during the snowy evening. The cab driver returns to the yard wherein he would leave his only companion to rest for the day and as well would take some rest himself.
At the yard, the cab driver finds a young man who is present at the yard and gets elated with the thought that he had finally found some human being with whom he could share his grief. On approaching the concerned person to exchange pleasantries, the cab driver to his utter disappointment found him to be lost in a deep sleep. This resulted in the cab driver to be greatly upset and he approached the only creature present in the yard with the intention of sharing his grief over his dead son. The mare that the cab driver owned seemed to reciprocate and provide some relief to the grieving heart of the father by breathing softly on the hands of the father as a gesture of compassion that was directed to the old grieving father.
Thus, from the above discussion it might safely be concluded that the short story by Anton Chekhov analyses the nature of the fellow human beings who seem to berate and belittle the grief of a father who has recently lost his son while an animal who does not have the ability to express the feelings or provide the needed compassion through the medium of speech tends to relate to the grief of the humans by simple gestures and display of certain gestures.
Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich. Anton Chekhov Collected Works. Firebird Publications, Incorporated, 1990. Print.