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First impression

In the short story “The Darling” by Anton Chekhov, a story is told about a young woman who loves three men and how later how her ideas and beliefs change with the change in the men he loves. Olenka, who is nicknamed “Darling”, never pays attention to her own opinions as though she never learnt how make her own decisions. A closer view at the characteristics of this woman reveals her importance as the author wanted. At the beginning of the story, Olga Plemyannikov is resting outside her house enjoying the heat of the day. Kukin who is the owner of the theater gets worried that the forming rain will drive away his customers. He is a pessimist who believes that he is ruined as nothing seems to work his way. The author condemns pessimism as one that makes people dwell on their misfortunes rather than looking for solutions to their problems.

Within this span of time, Olga is seized by genuine feelings about Kukin and she falls in love with him. Olga has been described as one who was ever in love with someone from her childhood, starting with her father and she solicited mutual affection from other people she interacted with late in life. She as such had to have someone all through her lifetime who took care of her and made decision for her. This is obviously the reason as to why Olga disregarded her own point of view and desperately relies on the others to lead as she imitates them. The story ridicules the people who live the so-called “selfless” lives which do not only inconvenience someone but it also deprives one his or her comfort.

The main protagonist character is described as one who is attractive, generous and ever eager to offer help to other people. She is nicknamed “darling” due to “her full rosy cheeks, her soft white neck with a little dark mole on it, and the kind, naïve smile, which came into her face when she listened to anything pleasant…” Ironically, Olga’s life only bears meaning when he relates to men who she attaches herself unto. Here, the author satirizes immorality and reliance upon other people which undoubtedly leads to laziness.

Engaging with the text

The name “darling” bears irony in the sense that Olga is a darling to everyone and she gets indulged like a favorite pet. It is reflected to the reader that Olga only finds happiness when she is related to a man and follows their beliefs. This makes her disregard the female power: she compromises her will to the male intellect. She is described as a foolish affectionate wife who cannot be contented with her first two husbands, Kukin the theater owner and Pustovalov, the timber merchant, since she had someone else she was dating. Throughout the story, it can be observed that she does not evolve; she rather becomes anxious for the male affection.

Firstly, she marries Kukin and at this time she only talks of the theater till when he dies. She later marries a timber merchant and as usual, she talks and thinks about timber all through their relationship. The timber merchant also dies later and this time she befriends a veterinary surgeon who is separated from his wife and son. In this relationship, she would ever talk and discuss veterinary concerns. When she is later abandoned by the surgeon, Olga’s life becomes vague as her thoughts become empty too. She grows old and the charms that had earned her the name “darling are lost until the veterinary reenters her life and abandons his own son, Sasha. She starts imitating the opinions of Sasha, the deserted son, and embarrasses him when she followed him to school. The reader is made to agree that though Olga wins love from everyone, she never earns respect.

Comment on the Relationship about content

The use of the endearment “darling” does not only patronize but it also demeans Olga. Though the society seems to be patting the protagonist on her back, it is actually pocking her for being submissive to the male chauvinism. By closely engaging with the text, it can be inferred that the author does more than only criticizing the main character as anti-feminist. The authors approach is more complex than the general overview that one might take in analyzing the story. He begins by seeking the readers’ compassion towards the protagonist when he notes that Olga felt “a deep and genuine feeling” toward Kukin; the author also reveals how she later suffers a series of bereavements which leaves her devastated. This appeals to the reader to sympathize with the protagonist and to justify her next move of searching for another love. As such, Olga emerges as a faulty woman yet one whose life is full of disappointments.

When she thinks that she will be satisfied by seeking Sasha’s love, she later realizes that he does not reciprocate the love. It even happens that when she volunteers to walk him to school, she pleads with her not to because he is normally ashamed of her secretly. This makes the reader feel sympathetic about the situation and one is almost moved to forgive her for being ignorant. One is almost unable to decide whether to blame Olga or to support her actions as her misfortunes somewhat justify some of her actions.

Unpacking an Instance of Figurative Language: Irony

This is an expression that is used to refer to something that absolutely opposite of what is said, normally for emphatic or humorous effect. In the short story, the use of the endearment “darling” is ironical. It presents a woman who despite being adorable to everyone lacks a very significant virtue in life: personal principles. She lives other people’s lives and is carried by the current of what is happening in her life. It is so hard to make decisions herself and she is convinced that unless she is loved by someone, and preferably a man, she has no happiness and cannot find pleasure within herself. She is represented as an affectionate wife but in the real sense she is the kind of a woman who would be considered as a foolish wife. Although she seems a woman who can be admired from afar, the reader finally realizes that despite the fact that she is adorable, she can never earn respect from anyone.

Unpacking Another Instance of Figurative Language: Hyperbole

Hyperbole refers to excessive exaggeration that is used by the author for the purpose of emphasis. In his short story, Chekhov describes Olga as a restless woman who would never settle down unless she is in love with a man. She portrays her as the society’s pet which everyone finds adorable and is ready to sacrifice his or her freedom for her. This description reveals a situation that can only be possible in the world of impossibilities because very few people in the real world would accept to be associated with someone who has a poor relationship with the other members of the society. The fact that many men in the story seem ever ready to receive, entertain and pamper her is impractical. Very few men, if any, may be willing to be associated with someone of Olga’s character, they would instead mock such personality.

Olga is also portrayed as one who falls for virtually all men who seem available. Though this could be possible with men of her age, the fact that she falls for Sasha seems to be an exaggeration. The narrator explains that she follows him to school and imitates him to the extent that the boy becomes embarrassed. Another instance where hyperbole is used is in describing the misfortunes that befall Olga. The story explains of very acute predicaments befalling Olga. She loses so many people within a very short period of time, something that seems totally impossible. Funny enough, the people that she loses are those that are very close and very important in her personal life. It can thus be deduced that the misfortunes are just added to facilitate plot development but they do not reflect on any possibility.  

Analyzing the Setting

The Darling was set in a provincial town near Moscow, Russia between 1886 and 1901. This setting allowed Chekhov illustrate properly his theme and precisely describe the immorality nature of the society in which he lived. He tried to describe the kind of women that were an eyesore, not only to him, but also to the rest of the society. He describes Olga as a woman who has no opinion and is a mix between a melancholic figure and a good-natured expression. When she is jovial, it is infectious and the other people around her are also happy. It helps people even in today’s generation ask themselves on how they should react in the presence of such people and how to handle their fluctuating moods.

Identifying and Analyzing Point of view

“The Darling” by Chekhov, takes the third person point of view. The very first sentence of the story explains that Olga “was sitting in her back porch, lost in thought” and all the characters in the story are mentioned using the third person pronouns; the narrator of the story does not appear in the story. The presented information does not present the thoughts of the narrator and only the characters take part in driving home the ideas of the author. The imaginary scenes created within the story such as the theater and the school helps in breaking monotony to the readers by shifting their imagination to other areas.

Analyzing Complexity, Ambiguity, and Difficulty

There are various instances in the story that the reader might encounter difficulties in comprehending the story. To start with, the story appears complex due to the presence of ungraspable instances such as the very first paragraph in the story. There are remarkable climaxes in this story, but the Chekhov seems to focus on the minute facts and common encounters of the people’s lives. These climaxes entail instances when characters raise questions concerning morality, and they arise toward the middle of story.

Code: Sample20

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