the importance of setting in anton chekhovs the lady with the dog

            Anton Chekhov is recognized as one of the most relevant short story writers in world literature.  This Russian author showcased his immense talent in fiction writing through the use of the literary elements to effectively narrate his stories.  One remarkable example would be “The Lady with the Dog,” where Chekhov carefully distinguished the life of its characters through the places they have been to.  He established the difference between how the characters are when they are together and when they are apart by noting the dissimilarity between Moscow and Yalta.  Dmitri and Anna were transformed by their love, and the transformation was most evident in the environment they occupied.  The innate alterations in the characters were shown to the readers through the geographical distinction.  Hence, Anton Chekhov carefully used the setting to define the relationship between the main characters in “The Lady with the Dog.”

            How did Chekhov use the setting to effectively tell his story?  He used the different locations in the story to convey the difference between their secret affair and their open relationships.  On one hand, there is Moscow.  Dmitri lived in Moscow with his wife and children.  He was unhappy with his marriage and frequently avoided his own home.  He was also a womanizer.  Chekhov used the gloomy environment of Moscow to reflect the emotions of Dmitri regarding his personal life.  He wrote, “At home in Moscow everything was in its winter routine” (Chekhov).  In the author’s description, the place was not only cold, but it also spoke of a dull and repetitive lifestyle.  Moscow echoed Dmitri’s life; it was dreary, redundant and devoid of genuine emotion.

            On the other hand, there was Yalta.  This was the place where Dmitri went to avoid his home life.  This was also where he met Anna.  Chekhov described Yalta as that which is full of life and color.  He wrote, “The water was of a soft warm lilac hue, and there was a golden streak from the moon upon it.  They talked of how sultry it was after a hot day” (Chekhov).  Contrary to his description of Moscow, Chekhov painted such a bright, warm and pleasant picture of Yalta.

Chekhov also depicted the place as a serene environment.  According to Chekhov, in Yalta “the leaves did not stir on the trees, grasshoppers chirruped, and the monotonous hollow sound of the sea rising up from below, spoke of peace.”  The dramatic shift in the environment from Moscow to Yalta insinuated the change in the characters’ lives.  Both Dmitri and Anna were unhappy in their relationships back home, and it was their chance encounter which brought happiness and fulfillment back in their lives.  Just as Yalta was peaceful and colorful, the lives of both characters became calm and colorful as well.  The brightness and calmness of the environment conveyed the effect of the forbidden union to the people involved.  The meeting between Anna and Dmitri brought them the excitement of life and inner peace which were missing in their dreary lives.

            The talent of Anton Chekhov was evident in his short story “The Lady with the Dog.”  He utilized the setting to convey that the change in location also implied the change in Dmitri and Anna’s lives.  Moscow was a reflection of Dmitri’s domestic situation.  His life at home was dark and depressing.  Yalta was a reflection of Dmitri’s affair with Anna.  While the union was an adulterous one, it was that which provided color in their lives.  As much as keeping the relationship secret was very difficult, it was such union that gave them peace and encouraged them to continue.  Indeed, Chekhov succeeded in using the setting to make his storytelling more effective.

Work Cited

Chekhov, Anton. The Lady with the Dog. The Literature Network. 7 March 2009 <>.


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