Love, Marriage, and Infidelity in Chekhov's "Three Sisters" Analytical Essay

Love, Marriage, and Infidelity in Chekhov's "Three Sisters"
An analysis of the interplay between love, marriage, and infidelity in Anton Chekhov's play "Three Sisters".
# 153896 | 6,798 words | 0 sources | 2014 | CA
Published by on Jun 15, 2014 in Drama and Theater (World) , Literature (Russian)

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From the Paper:

"While Three Sisters is today widely regarded as Chekhov's masterpiece (Karlinsky 155, Valency, "Vershinin" 218), literary critics and commentators alike have, almost without exception, alluded to the "elusive" and "indefinable" quality of its theme (Valency, "The Three Sisters" 186) and have complained that it is "extraordinarily difficult to determine exactly what the play is about" (Kramer 6), asserting that "it would be extravagant to pretend that its meaning is, or ever has been, clear " (Valency, "Vershinin" 218). However, as Valency has himself pointed out in regard to the play, "on the surface it appears deceptively translucent, not to say transparent" ("Vershinin" 218), suggesting that a superficial reading of the play is not sufficient to unearth its deeper meaning. This paper will suggest that if the play is read archetpyally--that is, at its deepest level--as well as against the backdrop of Chekhov's own life, it is possible to discern a very definite theme that holds the play together from beginning to end and gives it meaning and significance, a theme that will help us to understand the central role that love, marriage, and infidelity plays in Three Sisters.
"The Theme: It has been customary to assign a central role in the play to the "Moscow" motif and to the sisters' dream of returning to that city one day (Valency, "Vershinin" 228). Accordingly, critics have thought that the play is about the essentially destructive nature of illusions (Kramer 61) or the wasted lives of provincial upper-class Russians (Styan 117) or the "tragicomic ambivalence" of "socially determined inevitabilities" (Esslin 143).
"However, if we do not use the Moscow motif as the filter through which to view Three Sisters, the play takes on a quite different significance. At its deepest level, Three Sisters is almost certainly about the painful transition from "Innocence" to "Experience" (in William Blake's sense of these terms). It is about having one's eyes opened to the true nature of the human condition, as the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened after they ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3)."

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"Love, Marriage, and Infidelity in Chekhov's "Three Sisters"" 15 June 2014. Web. 08 December. 2021. <>