About Love by Anton Chekhov
In About Love by Anton Chekhov we have the theme of connection, honour, loss, letting go, acceptance and love. Taken from his Complete Short Stories collection the story for the main is narrated in the first person by a man called Pavel and after reading the story the reader realises that Chekhov may be exploring the theme of connection. Pavel has fallen in love with Anna. Though she is married he cannot stop thinking about her. It is as though he is fixated with her yet he knows he must do the honourable thing and not take any action as Anna is married to Dmitry. However this tears Pavel apart and he finds it difficult to stay away from Anna. Though he does remain honourable throughout the story despite the strength of the connection he feels for Anna. If anything Pavel loves Anna more than anything else in the world and she has become a preoccupation for him. Though again he does not break any boundary (apart from one kiss) and accepts that he has to let Anna go to the Crimea.
What is also interesting about the story is the fact that Pavel may physically have let go of Anna and accepted she is gone forever. However he can’t really let go of her emotionally or mentally. For Pavel his heart is at a loss. Something that becomes clear to the reader by the very fact that Pavel is telling his dinner guests about Anna. He is taking a risk though knows that he has to talk to someone. It would be quite easy for one of Pavel’s dinner guests to tell Dmitry about Pavel’s feelings towards Anna. Something that may result in a conflict between the two men. However it does seem to be a case that Pavel’s guests are thinking more about Pavel’s loss than telling Dimity. They appear to have an understanding about how Pavel may feel. They too might have lost in love and know how it burns the heart and marks the soul. Despite the passing of time Pavel’s feelings for Anna have not lessened. He remains deeply in love with Anna and is fixated on her memory and the sense of loss he feels.
It might also be a case that Chekhov through his characters is attempting to define what love is. The great mystery that nobody appears to understand. How one woman might fall in love with a man yet her friends or associates might view the relationship as disastrous. Pelagea’s relationship with Nikanor being an example. Love appears to be the one thing that can unquestionably change a person without other’s fully realizing why. What may be normal to one person is exquisite to another. Not much needs to be said for a person to fall in love. Pavel and Anna speak very little throughout the story to each other. Yet both are deeply in love with one another. It is only circumstances that keep both of them apart. How deep the love is, is telling. Pavel at no stage considers the scandal that might occur should Anna leave Dmitry. She will be the victim of other people’s scorn and will become an outcast. Interestingly enough the same standard will not apply to Pavel.
The end of the story is also interesting as Chekhov separates both Anna and Pavel by way of train carriage. Two people on two separate journeys despite being so in love with one another. If anything it is Pavel who backs away at the last minute. Stealing one kiss and walking away. This may be significant as it is possible that Pavel knows of the difficulties he and Anna might incur should their love be discovered. He may be fully aware of the impracticalities of his feelings but he still can’t let go of Anna. If anything love is like a double edged sword for Pavel. Should Anna stay with him she will be ostracized. Should she leave him he will be unable to let her go. Left only with memories and a thought of how things could have been different. By the end of the story Pavel is a broken man who may never move forward. Due to societal views and Anna’s longing for their not to be a scandal. Pavel must sit in the carriage alone.