30 pages 1 hour read

Anton Chekhov

The Lady With The Dog

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1899

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.


Communication Inability or Failure

The characters’ failure or inability to communicate throughout the story often contributes to a lingering uncertainty about how they relate to one another. Apparently commenting on larger problems of modern life, Chekhov suggests that the resulting ambivalence is endemic across genders and relationships. Gurov’s habitual avoidance of his wife and his unfaithfulness to her point to an unavoidable breakdown of communication between them. On occasions when he spends time around his wife, like in the company of men, he must be also “bored and not himself,” distant and “uncommunicative” (569).

In contrast, Gurov generally feels comfortable around other women, but this apparent ease does not consistently characterize his relationship with Anna. Early in their acquaintance in Yalta, they share a meal silently; later on, as they watch a steamer’s arrival, Anna talks a lot but asks “disconnected questions, forgetting next moment what she had asked” (571). Eventually, she falls silent, and when Gurov proposes an evening outing, she does not reply. Even amid otherwise ongoing conversations, these silences suggest an ambiguity that overshadows the relationship. As Chekhov’s characters cannot or will not disclose their true thoughts and desires, the exact nature and extent of their relationship remains uncertain—for them and for readers.