Chekhov Final Essay Time.docx - Navaille 1 Gracie Navaille 12 June 2014 Chekhov and his Impacts Finding One\u2019s Place in a Changing World A look at the

Chekhov Final Essay Time.docx - Navaille 1 Gracie Navaille...

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Navaille Gracie Navaille 12 June 2014 Chekhov and his Impacts Finding One’s Place in a Changing World: A look at the past, present, and future as painted in Chekhov’s plays In Anton Chekhov’s full-length plays, time plays an extraordinary role in all five of them. An astonishing number of Chekhov’s characters live in the past, grieving for lost loved ones, regretting long-gone mistakes, or yearning fondly for the good times that even the audience knows will never return. At the same time, numerous characters spend their lives fixated on the future as the present passes away before their eyes. How do humans perceive the passing of time, something measured by no other animal, and why? How does Chekhov illustrate the passage of time in his plays, wherein sometimes whole years pass between acts and nothing has changed, and other times it has only been days or weeks but everything has changed? Perhaps one thing Chekhov brings to light in his unusual handling of time is how unchanged his characters remain after years pass and their lives are turned upside-down. Many characters change their dreams, their plans for their futures – such as Irina, Nina, and Lyubov – but at heart they remain craving the same old fantasies onto which they’ve held for years. The only things that really change about a person in his plays are whether they are growing sicker, growing older, or dying. Does anyone really live in the present in Chekhovian drama, and what becomes of those who do? In this essay, I will focus on Chekhov’s second-to-last play, Three Sisters, because of the way it looks back on the history of Russia while so clearly foreseeing the quickly changing future of the world. It was also Chekhov’s time to look back with hindsight on his existing body of work, and still look into his future, The Cherry Orchard , and his quickly approaching death. 1
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Navaille Three Sisters begins immersed in the idea of time. The very first line spoken is by Olga, who considers how the death of their father occurred just one year ago exactly, on May 5 th , Irina’s birthday. Though the present weather is “sunny and bright,” according to the stage directions, the day of their father’s death “was very cold – snowing, in fact. […] But a year’s gone by now, and we don’t mind thinking about it” (Senelick, 249). Just as Olga delivers this line, a clock somewhere strikes twelve, and the action comes to a halt – not a slow process for an audience to sit through. Chekhov forcibly has the audience experience the passage of time along with the characters on stage, literally, and the timeline of the play briefly lines up with that of the real world as the seconds are counted down. The temporal experience of the clock striking that so fully fills the audience’s awareness for a short moment has the power to bleed over into the rest of the play, where the characters so fully experience the passage of time over and over again. From Vershinin’s prophesying about the happiness of mankind 300 years in the future to
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