"The Darling", by Anton Chekhov.

Essay by gmikura March 2004

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In the story "The Darling", by Anton Chekhov, Chekhov has a sympathetic attitude towards Olenka. According to him Olenka was a person who needed love and company in order to survive and to have a purpose in life by deriving an identity for herself. Olenka needed the kind of love that would encompass her fully and give meaning to her life. She wanted humans for company and this is evident from the fact that she was untouched by the black kitten, Briska's affection to her, as stated in the story. From Chekhov's point of view, the love for her two husbands was not due to physical attraction. For example, Kukin, her first husband, is described as "a thin man, with yellow face and curls combed forward on his forehead", and he is not the kind of man any woman would be physically attracted to. Rather Olenka showed sympathy towards him and his sufferings due to his misfortunes drew her to him.

The compassionate attitude of the author towards Olenka allowed him to portray her as someone who was hungry for love and company, but was never bothered if her love was reciprocated or not. The love she had with the young boy, Sashenka, clearly proved this fact. Olenka was unaffected by the unwillingness of Sashenka to accept her love and yet she continued to love him. It can be inferred that Olenka had an identity crisis. She was incapable of having her own opinions and was dependent on those whom she loved. Her submissiveness was clear from how Chekhov described her state during the mourning of her second husband's death. She was alone and vulnerable. Chekhov also felt that Olenka was selfish in nature as she lived in fear that Sashenka's parents might take him away from...