Rate: 2.5/5 stars
Disclaimer: I had to read this for a class, this was the response I wrote for it.
Chekov’s short story “The Lady with the Pet Dog” seemed like it was going to be a charming piece, but it was instead disjointed and disturbing. Once past the choppy, excessive descriptions, the reader could finally focus on the fact that this bored middle aged man was preying on young girls to pass the time. The story was unsatisfying, the characters were left undeveloped, and the plot overall was unengaging.
Other than the main characters, everyone was just so transparent; they didn’t have characteristics or anything really that described them as something other than human. The writing of the characters definitely left something to be desired. It was odd how Gurov was able to leave his family for long periods of time without explanation, and Anna’s background was confusing and uncompleted. Both characters just came across underdeveloped, especially by the end when they finally fell in “love.” Their love story felt unfinished and immature. Although the plot embraced the idea that love can happen to anyone at anytime, the whole thing seemed out of place and inappropriate.
Many enjoy the writing style of Chekhov, but the pompous, stream-of-consciousness was overall irritating. There were specific parts that had wonderfully written phrases and thoughtful ideals, such as, “He had two lives: one, open, seen and known by all who cared to know, full of relative truth and of relative falsehood, exactly like the lives of his friends and acquaintances; and another life, running its course in secret.” It was the pieces like this that made the story any bit bearable and worthwhile.
The plot line was predictable, and the characters were unlikeable and underdeveloped. Overall, the short story was disappointing, bland, and surprisingly very forgettable.