One of the readings that I chose is “The Kiss,” by Anton Chekhov who was one of the greatest Russian writers. Chekhov started his career by writing jokes and anecdotes in popular magazines. At this time, he was earning money to support his career as a doctor, which he once compared to his lawful wife while writing was his mistress. He is considered to have brought a new dawn to drama as well as short stories between 1888 and when he died. According to Whyman (2010), “His Russia was a vast empire with extremes of wealth and poverty, diverse cultures and a predominantly rural economy,” (5). The reason I chose this author is his influence during the time he wrote. He is considered to have revolutionalised writing of short stories as well as drama in the late nineteenth century. He emerged from the family of serfs, which was quite poor but rose to become not only a great writer and thinker, but also a doctor. These were not usual privileges for serfs. His work reflects on the troubles of the country, complexity as well as problems faced by living a life in such a community (Bloom, 2009).
Additionally, his choice of themes corresponded with the happenings of the time where he used satire to illustrate the corruption of leaders within the society and other themes. This influenced the readers to consider his view of the society as well as think in his line. Even today, his work remains quite influential as well as entertaining. He was among the few Russians to write and influence the European literature. To become what he became, meant defying the norms of inheritance of the status quo where serfs remained poor and inferior. He had to be determined as well as aggressive in order to rise to this status as well as influence people (Bloom, 2009). He emerged as one of the greatest writers despite the problems he had to go through in his life. Writing was not his first career. Later, medicine was his chosen career and writing only came as a way to maintain himself in school.
The political background of the country was hierarchical where three dynasties of Romanov ruled his entire lifetime. After his birth, the feudal economy took place where the economy was based on enslavement of the peasants (Rayfield, 1998). It was an economy where around four-fifths of the population paid ‘quit rent’ either in cash or through labor. Corruption was evident as well as bureaucracy. Chekhov used satire to depict the current living conditions of the time in his plays, as well as drama and stories. He focused on the effects that this life had on people, such as in the “Death of Government Official.”
Chekhov explored several themes in his work. One of the major themes that are evident in the short story, The Kiss, is disillusionment and failed ideals, where he takes to examine many disappointments in people. In his stories, the protagonists are in disillusionment due to the events and circumstances they find themselves in requiring self-reevaluation. Many have to reevaluate their personal philosophies as well as the understanding of the world and society including life. Much of the disillusionment is evidenced towards the end of the story where the protagonist rich a new realization (Whyman, 2010). For instance in “The Kiss,” the protagonist, Ryabovich, realizes his romantic disillusionment towards the end of the story where he decides not to attend the second invitation to the general’s house. At this point, he realizes that his romantic quest has been quite out of proportion to his cause. All over sudden, the whole world seemed unintelligible as well as an aimless jest. In most cases, the protagonists are crushed by their disillusionment. In this story, the protagonist is crashed by his disillusionment.
The other theme explored by Chekhov is breaking of aristocracy within the society. When he was born, the leader at the time liberated the serfs, which seemed like a good dawn for the country. However, the peasants remained impoverished and relied heavily on land as their only source of income. Although he did not openly discuss this, in his writing, his writing is characterized the debates concerning this change.
The reason I chose this work, The Kiss was its focus on disillusionment that affects many people as well as the way it is articulated. The story also provides a historical context of Russia and its military force as well as its economic lifestyle. This provides a good context of Russia during the last decades of the nineteenth century. It falls under several subjects that include communication, imagination, idealism, emotions fantasy as well as comedy. The story falls under the psychological fiction genre that evokes the deepest emotions to the reader. In reading the story, one connects with the protagonist of the story in a subtle way that illustrates the writers own elusiveness. Moreover, the writer leaves the reader to judge the cases on his or her own, which allows varied thinking.
The other reading chosen in this book is “The Old Stoic,” by Emily Bronte, which is a short poem concerning wishes to become free. Bronte is one of the three sisters, Charlotte and Anne, who have been described as romantic rebels due to their works. Bronte has been considered a free spirit that relates to nature, as well as a solitary genius due to her focus on freedom in her literal works. Her writing depicts of her unhappy life due to lack of attachment to their father who dined alone. In many instances, all she had was her sisters and books as her companion. This influenced her writing, as well. She represents the lives of women in England at the time of the writing, where women still held a reserved position in the society (Robinson, 2010). It is for such reasons that she writes a poem on freedom, citing that they once wished to be rich as well as filled with love. However, things have changed, and all they wish for is to be free to live their live. This is depicted in the short poem.
She was among the most recognized women of her era, where she had become a teacher at the age of 20 years. Although she went back home after the deterioration of her health, she continued to study at home and learnt English. She later attended a girl school, Pensionnat Heger at Brussels, with her sister to learn French and German. Upon returning from Brussels, she and her sister Charlotte wrote a book of poems that was later produced after her death. Her best work that she is mostly remembered for having done is the novel “The Wuthering Heights.”
The reading was chosen due to its depiction of women in the early nineteenth century where women had little say over their lives. The poem’s meaning illustrates women’s wish for freedom to live their lives as they wished as opposed to living lives imposed on them. In the first line, she talks about their wishes to be rich, which is no longer their wish since they hold little value for money and wealth. This further depicts the lost hopes when one realizes that they may not be rich after all. This is a depiction that people’s wishes in life have hardly changed considering that everybody wishes to be happy once in life (Pykett, 1989).
Although the poem is short, it portrays the lives of people during the tome. Women at this time were not free to live their lives and had to abide to rules set for women. Talking about freedom represents the lives of women in general, that depicted the women struggle of the nineteenth century. She further says she had little faith in love, probably due to her young life considering the hardships they experienced. She also talks about wishing to become famous as a dream, which means she once wished to be famous but never was and was gone by the time they woke up (Pykett, 1989). This means that she realized it was just a dream to become famous considering she felt her time for that had already been over. In the third stanza of the poem, she talks about her life nearing her end, and she has not gotten her freedom. Towards the end, the statements talk about enduring life as it came, which can be said to represent acceptance of one’s fate as it comes. These is a representation of daily living, but also despair by the knowledge that one might never achieve their dreams and their only wish is to be free. This poem clearly represents her uneventful life that she led until her death at an age of 30 years.
This research starts with a history of the authors addressed in these two works followed by one of their works. In reviewing Chekhov, many materials were available including several books as opposed to Emily Bronte. This is a depiction of the negligence given on female writers despite their efforts. Their recognition was hard to come by considering the reserved traditional views of women as lacking in ideas as articulate thought. At the time, women writers were hardly recognized, which explains why some of their literal works were lost. Additionally, there is a great contrast as well as similarity between the two writers. Both of them did not come from stable families. They struggled with education. However, one can realize that Chekhov gained recognition much faster than Bronte did considering he was writing while still a student and his work were published. On the other hand, Bronte struggled to be recognized by publishers considering that she came from a much more enlightened country. Additionally, much of Chekhov’s work received critical response while Bronte’s work received none. This is probably because of gender, where men were recognized intellectually than women were (Robinson 2010). The work chosen from Chekhov is set in a time when peasants were living poor lives dependent on land alone. On the other hand, Bronte lived in England, a country that was more enlightened at its time. Her life remained a mystery to many as opposed to Chekhov who wrote more about his family and life.
Bloom, H. (2009). Anton Chekhov. New York, N.Y: Infobase Publishing.
Pykett, L. (1989). Emily Bronte. Blue Ridge Smt, PA: Rowman & Littlefield.
Rayfield, D. (1998). Anton Chekhov: A Life. Purcellville, VA: Northwest University Press.
Robinson, A.M. (2010). Emily Bronte. New York, N.Y: Kissinger Publishing.
Whyman, R. (2010). Anton Chekhov. New York, N.Y: Routledge.