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A critical analysis of Act 1 of 'The Three Sisters' by Anton Chekhov.

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Introduction

A critical analysis of Act 1 of 'The Three Sisters' by Anton Chekhov 'The Three Sisters' is typical of the works of Anton Chekhov in several ways. Firstly, very little actually happens; the "action" unfolds over a four-year period, and much of this time is undocumented. For this reason, many critics feel that Chekhov is boring and unappealing, thus inaccessible to the majority of the theatre-going populace. However, the opposite is true; rather than seeking plays crammed with action, tragedy, love and horror, many theatre-goers enjoy the languid style of the plays, and the immense volumes of reflection that they allow; both introspection and analysis of the situations around you occur during the progression of the play. As Chekhov himself stated; "People have dinner, merely dinner, but at that moment their happiness is being made or their life is being smashed." What this shows us is that Chekhov purposely left his plays with sparse action, to allow for a much deeper and more personal impact to be ...read more.

Middle

This is important, because it delays the impact of the play, meaning that, when it does come, it hits far more profoundly. Many traditionalists at the time found the characters too inexpressive; they preferred one or two characters to be on the stage at one time, explicitly stating their emotions and intentions. Chekhov renounced this, and so the play begins with the sisters, and several officers, in one room. Olga, the oldest of the Prozorov sisters, feels enervated due to her job; it seems unfulfilling and sapping. She longs to return to Moscow, so that she can once again mingle with people like her, and be satisfied with life. She is wearing the dress that is typical of teachers; this shows that even on a day where she should be enjoying herself and relaxing, she is reminded of work; this perhaps shows the extent to which life has taken over her life, and so justifies her sentiments of enervation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Olga continues in her misery and says "Being all day in school and then at my lessons till the evening gives me a perpetual headache and thoughts as gloomy as though I were old. And really these four years that I have been at the high-school I have felt my strength and my youth oozing away from me every day." This quotation clearly describes the feeling of enervation that I have previously described. It is impossible for anyone to be happy when in company as miserable as Olga's, and so her selfishness is going to ruin Irina's name-day. Irina, now in a negative mood as well, then says "Andrey will probably be a professor...the only problem is poor Masha". What she means by this is that Masha's marriage, which she has come to resent, is the only impediment to the family moving back to Moscow- Masha would not be allowed to leave Kulygin, and he would not come to Moscow. However, during the play it becomes apparent that there are many factors that mean that the dream of reaching Moscow is completely unattainable. ...read more.

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