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Uncle Vanya | Quotes


For twenty-five years it turns out he was simply taking up space.

Vanya, Act 1, In Vanya's Garden

Vanya is denouncing Serebryakov's professional achievements, which, in his opinion, have amounted to nothing.


Why do men refuse to see a woman's indifference, especially when she belongs to another man?

Yelena, Act 1, Vanya's Conflict with His Mother

Yelena asks Vanya this, revealing her awareness of his lust for her. She wonders why he refuses to accept that she is unattainable.


Every minute seems to stretch on endlessly from the one before it.

Serebryakov, Act 2, The Household Wakes Up

Serebryakov is describing the monotony of his retirement in the country. He misses his work, his colleagues, and, most of all, the sense his life has a purpose.


The world will end not because of war, or disasters, but because of hate.

Yelena, Act 2, The Household Wakes Up

Yelena chides Vanya for his hostile attitudes and notes how others in the house are also hateful and angry. She believes hate between individuals is more harmful than differences in political or philosophical views.


Day and night, right here in this house, my own thoughts smother me.

Vanya, Act 2, The Household Wakes Up

What makes Vanya so disheartened is not something caused by a difficult situation or other people. Rather, he is the source of his own misery. His thoughts bring him down—and he cannot get away from them.


When you don't have a real life, you must live your mirages.

Vanya, Act 2, The Household Wakes Up

This is a key, rather Existential quotation from Vanya explaining why he gets drunk, reaffirming an earlier statement in which he explained he got drunk "because it feels just a little bit like being alive."


A life of luxury cannot be pure.

Astrov, Act 2, The Household Wakes Up

Astrov criticizes Yelena because she is idle and does not do anything. "Pure" is used by Astrov to mean true and real, or genuine, which is the ideal state to aspire to, if not ever achieve.


If they can't find a label ... they say, 'He's a strange man, very strange.'

Astrov, Act 2, The Household Wakes Up

Astrov describes how he is labeled a nonconformist because he loves forests and does not eat meat.


He sees the future happiness of humanity.

Yelena, Act 2, Sonya and Yelena Mend Their Relationship

Yelena describes the concept of sustainability, or why Astrov plants trees—he wants them for future generations.


A talented Russian man cannot remain pure.

Yelena, Act 2, Sonya and Yelena Mend Their Relationship

This statement is comparable to the contemporary opinion that creative people have a wild side and don't always abide by the mainstream norms.


He's destroyed almost everything and created nothing to take its place.

Astrov, Act 3, A Declaration of Love

Astrov is describing the destruction of the forests and humans' failure to replant them.


The geese all squawk, and then they stop.

Marina, Act 3, Serebryakov's Proposal and Vanya's Anger

Marina tells Sonya this after she gets distraught over the angry words between her father and Vanya. She is pointing out it is human nature to get angry, but it is just a passing thing.


I am of the opinion that eccentricity is the normal state of human affairs.

Astrov, Act 4, Astrov and Vanya Talk

Astrov gives his professional opinion that everyone exhibits behavior that could be clinically diagnosed as abnormal, as in many of Chekov's plays.


You could wake up ... and feel as if you had started all over again.

Vanya, Act 4, Astrov and Vanya Talk

Vanya describes his desire for a new life. He wants to change his life and to feel full of hope like he had when he was younger.


How do you do that ... start a new life, what makes it start?

Vanya, Act 4, Astrov and Vanya Talk

Vanya does not know how to change his life. This question demonstrates his desire to change his life while also showing his lack of knowledge on how to do so. This question also reflects Chekhov's keen understanding of human nature and that desire alone is not enough to transform one's life.

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