SMC 2304: Literature
Contrasting Points of View: “The Lady with the Pet Dog”
The concept of love is very complicated, and in practice quite unpredictable. When one thinks of love, it is unlikely that negative ideas are the first thoughts that come to mind. In the two stories, both titled “The Lady with the Pet Dog” we are able to see two contrasting perspectives on a similar story. In the short story by Chekov, we learn of a love story that is predominately about hope and compassion through the evolution of Gurov, the masculine main character. On the other side of the coin, the story by Oates tells the same love story from the perspective of Anna, the female main character. Instead of hope and compassion, feelings of guilt and shame are felt. The contrast in gender is essential when comparing the two stories because it gives the reader insight on how Gurov and Anna deal with a moral problem such as infidelity. I prefer Oates’ retelling of the story more because Chekov does not allow for the reader to see Anna’s perspective. Oates’ retelling of the story is necessary to fully understand the love affair between the two, especially the feminine side.
Oates begins her retelling of Chekov’s story with the introduction of a love between a married couple that has lost its spark. In this first part of the story we are already able to gain more insight into Anna’s emotions and thoughts than we were in all of Chekov’s story. Anna’s feeling towards her husband and the love she knew at that time can be seen when she says, “‘I love you,’ her husband said fiercely, angrily. She shut her eyes and thought of that other man, as if betraying him would give her life a center…Always this hot flashing shame between them, the shame of her husband’s near failure—the clumsiness of love—” (Oates 250) Ther is a constant mention of shame throughout the story. This theme is never mentioned in Chekov’s story, in fact Gurov never mentioned the consequences a love affair might have on his wife and children. The thematic placement of shame and guilt were Oates’ way or contrasting both the male and female perspective. When reading a story, especially a love...