She is Smart
Olenka, in the short story “The Darling” by Anton Chekhov, is a lonely housewife who lacks independent thought and changes herself and her ideas for the men in her life. This woman is the ideal woman who is always thinking independently and is gentle and sentimental to others. Olenka finds herself falling in love with men who always seems to take her thoughts and ideas away from her. To them, she is idealess and subservient and does not think for herself when in reality, she is always thinking for the men and helping them prosper in their work. Chekhov expresses his thoughts on women in Russia in the 19th century through Olenka and tells us how women can achieve the same things as men can.
When Olenka continues to find love in the story, she feels as if she cannot think for herself. She is with several men who always turn her ideas down and calls her stupid for bringing them up. “I’ve asked you before not to talk about what you do not understand.” (Chekhov 172). When Olenka starts to talk about the slaughterhouses and the bad things happening to animals in the town the veterinarian, Volodichka gets angry because he thinks that whatever she knows whether it's factual or not can come from her because she is a woman. She goes through the story thinking that she can never think for herself and when she does, she has to keep it to herself. This then turns into the mindset that she must think whatever her lover thinks. “And what Kukin said about the theatre and the actors she repeated” (Chekhov 168). This is a good example of how she was when she found love. She lacked independent thought around her husbands and only agreed with them. “But Volodichka, what am I supposed to talk about?” (Chekhov 172). Olenka has adapted to only thinking what her husband thinks and does not know what to do when she is thinking on her own. She is frowned upon for speaking her mind which is similar to all the women that speak their minds in Russia because they were not allowed to speak their minds in this century. They had to vocalize their opinions through their husbands and stick beside them even if they truly did not believe the same thing they did.
Chekhov tried his best to interpret women’s rights in Olenka and the story. In the 19th century, women mainly played one role; to be a housewife. They would do what women were supposed to do like clean, make food, and make their husbands happy. Olenka tried to do much more though. She wanted to learn and work because she wanted to be successful. “She used to sit in his office to put down accounts and pay the wages” (Chekhov 168). In a way, she was independently thinking because she would come up with ways to make the business better even when her husband could not. For example, she would drive the timber prices up by “twenty percent each year” (Chekhov 170) and tell the public that they are the best in the town. Women could not do a lot in this era and they certai...