Talent by Anton Chekhov

Talent - Anton ChekhovIn Talent by Anton Chekhov we have the theme of freedom, love, happiness, selfishness, struggle, innocence, escape and failure. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and the reader realises after reading the story that Chekhov may be exploring the theme of freedom. Yegor has fanciful ideas about his profession. He believes that an artist should not be tagged down by anyone or anything. Which may explain why he avoids Katya’s advances. He does not wish to be with her though he may secretly long for the female form in his life and art. Katya’s brief appearances in the story may also be significant as she appears to long for the freedom that Yegor wishes for. She is having difficulties with her mother and believes that should she marry Yegor she will be as free as she wants to be. This too is important as Chekhov may be suggesting that at the time of the story was written. Women relied on men in order to achieve freedom from their family. Though ironically many women would have found themselves in unhappy marriages with husbands who thought that freedom was purely a masculine entitlement.

There is also no disputing that Yegor is in love with his profession more than he is in love with Katya. For Yegor art is his number one focus. Though ironically for an artist he has drawn or painted very little. For the entire summer he has only managed to paint one picture and that remains unfinished. Which may lead some readers to suggest that just as Katya fails in love so too does Yegor fail when it comes to his chosen occupation. Similarly both Ukleikin and Kostyliov may be dreamers like Yegor, rather than successful painters. Which may be the point that Chekov is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that when it comes to art as a profession most artists are failures and do not succeed either with monetary gain or happiness. If anything Yegor is only happy when he dreams about being a successful painter. These dreams in themselves may be significant as Yegor does not include Katya in any of his dreams. She is not by his side despite the fact that she loves him. If anything some critics may believe that Yegor is selfish for not including Katya in his dreams.

There may also be some symbolism in the story which is important. Katya’s mother is a harsh woman and it is easy to see why Katya wants to escape from her. Just as Yegor has dreams about being famous so too does Katya have dreams of living a better life. The introduction of Katya’s mother highlights this to the reader. The fact that Yegor forgets all his troubles when he drinks vodka could also be significant. Chekhov may be using the alcohol to further highlight the theme of escape. All three men, Yegor, Ukleikin and Kostyliov, spend the evening drinking vodka and forgetting about the struggles they have encountered while pursuing their dream. The fact that Yegor’s room is untidy may be symbolic of Yegor’s own mind. He dreams about being famous yet he does not have the drive to be a painter. It is as though other things (like vodka) are more important to Yegor. He is not really focused on his dreams. Leaving the reader to suspect that Yegor’s mind is as untidy as his room.

The end of the story is interesting as Chekhov appears to be exploring the theme of innocence. Katya has not fully understood Yegor when it comes to the matter of him not loving her. She throws her arms around Yegor as though she is blissfully happy that Yegor will be famous. It does not occur to Katya that Yegor’s fame does not include her in his life. She still holds a soft spot for him and continues to dream of escaping from her mother with Yegor. Leaving the reader to think that Katya is only allowing for herself to be hurt. By being unable to accept or let go of the fact that Yegor does not love her. Katya is only allowing for herself to hurt even more. Though because she is an innocent she does not fully understand this. She has given her heart to a selfish man who has achieved and most likely will not achieve anything in life. Yegor is destined to be an impoverished artist due to his own inabilities to actually produce any work of merit.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Talent by Anton Chekhov." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 27 May. 2020. Web.


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