"One of Ibsen's Great Themes is a Radical Misery, a Deep Inhibition of Pleasure" (Michael Goldman).

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"One of Ibsen's Great Themes is a Radical Misery, a Deep Inhibition of Pleasure" (Michael Goldman). Consider the Representation of Repression in Two or More Plays.

Both Russian writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) and Norway's Henrik Ibsen (1828-1904) grew up in families whose position in society was constantly under threat. Ibsen's father, a merchant by trade, was ruined when Ibsen was only six years old, plunging the family into poverty. Ibsen later qualified as an apothecary and whilst working caused a scandal by having an illegitimate child. Although Chekhov's family was bought out of serfdom by his grandfather some years before his birth, life was still hard and by the time he was sixteen, Chekhov's father had been made bankrupt. Chekhov was forced to support his family whilst at university through writing pieces for magazines and journals. Then, when he qualified as a doctor he took his father's place as head of the family and provided their main income (a role rather like that of Olga in Three Sisters). It seems no wonder then, that Three Sisters and Hedda Gabler are two plays which concentrate on the influence of society over the main protagonists. In both plays society is portrayed in a dystopic light, repressing its inhabitants and creating a myriad of personal conflicts for the characters.

Chekhov's Three Sisters concerns primarily the Prosorov family but also the lives of the soldiers stationed in the small, isolated town of Perm. It seems worth mentioning that in this play, written 1899, Chekhov "parodies his own dreams of Moscow" (Clyman, 28). For health reasons Chekhov had been forced to move to Crimea (where he wrote Three Sisters) and felt himself to be exiled, isolated and longed for Moscow. A similar situation to that of the Prosorov family who, after...