Literature Study GuidesUncle VanyaAct 2 Sonya And Yelena Mend Their Relationship Summary

Uncle Vanya | Study Guide

Anton Chekhov

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Uncle Vanya | Act 2, Sonya and Yelena Mend Their Relationship | Summary

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Summary

Yelena enters the dining room, and she and Sonya discuss their relationship. Yelena doesn't like how Sonya has been treating her and thinks Sonya believes she "married [her] father for his money." Yelena admits she is not in love with Sonya's father. She thought she was in love with him when she married him because he was educated and well known, but it was not genuine. The topic switches to the doctor. Sonya admits she likes him. Yelena thinks well of him also, calling him a "free thinker" who "does things on a grand scale." She cites how he is planting trees for "the future happiness of humanity."

Both women feel unburdened, and Yelena decides she wants to play the piano. First, though, she tells Sonya to ask her father if the music will bother him. While waiting for an answer, Yelena gets excited about playing, which she hasn't done in years. She wants to "play and cry, cry like an idiot." Sonya comes back, however, and tells her they are "not allowed" to play.

Analysis

Talking about men draws Sonya and Yelena close. Filled with thoughts of Astrov, Sonya wants to talk about him and seems unconcerned about Yelena's lack of love for her father. Yelena's admiration for Astrov indicates that her feelings for him are similar to those she had for Serebryakov in the past. Both Astrov and Serebryakov are highly educated. People think well of the doctor, just as they once did of Serebryakov. Yelena is evidently attracted to men who she perceives as being "above" commoners. She admires Astrov for his lofty environmental ideals, calling him a rare man and someone who "must be loved."

Yelena is just happy to think about the man she loves and talk about him with someone else. Thinking about Astrov fills both women with excitement, hope, and joy. They want to express their cheerfulness with music but are prevented from doing so because it would disturb Serebryakov. This portrays the power Serebryakov holds over both his daughter and his wife. He is oppressive and quashes their opportunities for happiness and joy.

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