October 7, 2013
The Change In Anton Chekhov’s “Lady with the Dog”, Gurov is a married man with children that seeks out women to sleep with them for his pleasure. Gurov’s life, however, takes a turn when he meets a young woman while on vacation in Yalta. When Gurov meets her he has little interest in her as anything more than another conquest. In this story, Gurov begins as a man incapable of love and trapped in a marriage with a woman he is afraid of, and then he unexpectedly changes when he falls in love with Anna, the lady with the pet dog.
Chekhov begins this text by introducing Gurov as a father of three children and a man clearly no longer in love with his wife. He is said to have cheated on his wife many times over the course of their marriage and appears to have little or no respect for his wife or the women he sleeps with. Gurov uses women for his own personal needs and has no feelings for or emotional connection with the women he sleeps with. He shows no remorse over continually breaking his marriage vows and appears to have no desire to stop his cheating. Gurov uses his affairs as a way of escaping his intolerable marriage and feels completely justified in doing so.
While on vacation to Yalta, Gurov meets a woman named Anna. In their first meetings, Gurov has no more feeling for her than he does any of the other women he has been with. He spends time with her eating out and visiting the ocean. His only goal is to seduce her, “ Then he looked at her intently, and all at once put his arm round her and kisser her on the lips, and breathed in the moisture and the fragrance of the flowers; and he immediately looked round him, anxiously wondering whether any one had seen them” (72). This passage shows that Gurov only cares about himself. He wants to make sure he does not get caught cheating on his wife, not because he feels he is doing anything wrong, but because he is afraid of his wife. When Anna tells Gurov that she has a husband, he does not seem care. He continues his seduction of her by telling her “Let us go to your hotel” (72). Anna, weak and apparently unhappy with her own marriage, falls victim to his seduction and cheats on her husband. Afterwards, she becomes distraught and begs God to forgive her for her adultery. Gurov tells her “You seem to feel you need to be forgiven” (73). He does not understand Anna’s feelings of guilt or her need for forgiveness. After cheating on his wife for such a long time, he has hardened his heart to any pain he may have caused his wife or others with his behavior.
Gurov felt bored already, listening to her. He was irritated by the naïve tone, by this remorse, so unexpected and inopportune: but for the tears in her eyes, he might have thought she was jesting or playing a part (74). Anna and Gurov leave Yalta, she returns to her husband and he goes back to Moscow to his wife and children. As the days pass, Gurov begins to miss Anna and finds himself thinking of her every night and day. He is disturbed when he realizes that he has feelings for her. It is something that has never happened to him before. This is the beginning of Gurov’s personal transformation. He obsesses over Anna and finds himself thinking about her all the time. Chekov says,
Anna Sergeyevna did not visit him in dreams, but followed him everywhere like a shadow and haunted him. When he shut his eyes he saw her as though she were living before him, and she seemed to him lovelier, younger, tenderer than she was; and he imagined himself finer than he had been in Yalta (77). Gurov becomes determined to find Anna and confess his love for her. He travels to Anna’s home and waits for her to come outside. When this doesn’t work, he tracks her down and stalks Anna and her husband waiting for the moment when he can catch her alone. He finally gets his moment and confronts her at a performance of “The Geisha”. Anna becomes frightened when she sees Gurov, but she is also