Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" Synopsis and Impressions - The Play that Made Gorky Cry

Masterpieces by the great Russian writer Chekhov

Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" Synopsis Explained - The Play that Made Gorky Cry

Chekhov (1860-1904)Wikipedia.

Uncle Vanya is a play published by Chekhov in 1897.

I read "Uncle Vanya," translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Shinchosha, in "Seagull, Uncle Vanya.

Let's take a quick look at the synopsis.

While falling into disappointment and despair, "Uncle Vanya" shows the author's original theme that there is no suicide, and that the tragedy is not in dying but in living.

Shinchosha, Kiyoshi Kannishi translation of "The Seagull, Uncle Vanya," back cover.

This volume contains two plays by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), "The Seagull" and "Uncle Vanya. These two plays, along with "The Three Sisters" and "The Cherry Orchard," both of which are also included in the Shincho Bunko collection, have been called Chekhov's four great plays and are considered masterpieces in the history of theater.

Shinchosha, translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Seagull, Uncle Vanya, p. 241

This is the next Chekhov play to be performed after "The Seagull" and is one of Chekhov's most famous plays.

The commentary at the end of the book also states

The theme of Chekhov's development as a writer, from despair to perseverance, as seen in "The Seagull," is even more vividly recognized in "Uncle Vanya," the second of the four great plays.

Compared to "The Seagull," which expresses the author's unique insight into life mainly through the issues of art and fame, this play also takes a more social issue of human labor into consideration, and builds a unique world of drama on the contrasting characters of an old professor with gout and his young and elegant wife, Uncle Vanya and his niece Sonya who have devoted their lives to the management of their estate, and Doctor Aastrov, who is concerned about the future of the Russian forest. On the other hand, Uncle Vanya and his niece Sonya, who have devoted their lives to the management of their estate, and Dr. A. A. Stolov, a doctor who cares about the future of the Russian forests, create Chekhov's unique world of static drama.

As is often pointed out, Chekhov's quiet drama is a kind of unique theatrical technique in which the atmosphere of the stage is enlivened by the daily lives of the characters and their conversations, without any remarkable plot or incident. Such skillful use of dramatic techniques must be combined with the author's own view of life to give Chekhov's quiet, dark plays their extraordinary power and urgency.

Shinchosha, translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Seagull, Uncle Vanya, p.247-248

The main theme of this work is "from despair to perseverance. As is often pointed out, "Chekhovian drama is a kind of unique theatrical technique in which the atmosphere of the stage is enlivened by the daily lives of the characters and their conversations, without any remarkable plot or incident," and this work, like "The Seagull," is a domestic drama with conversation as its main element.

In "Chekhov's Light and Shadow" by Yutaka Matsushita, the synopsis was summarized as follows.

The synopsis of the fourth act of "Uncle Vanya" is as follows.

Uncle Vanya, who manages the estate of Professor Serebryakov and his family, and Dr. Aastrov, a nearby doctor who is busy traveling around, are leading a dreary and hard life in the countryside. Since the arrival of the professor and his wife, life has been in a complete state of flux. Uncle Vanya's unrequited love for the beautiful young professor's wife, Elena, and his regret and awakening to the past time wasted in devotion to the professor.

In the second act, the professor's selfishness and frustration at his creeping old age. Uncle Vanya's depression grows. Sonya, the daughter of the professor's ex-wife, who assists Uncle Vanya in managing the estate, has a one-sided love affair with Doctor Aastrov.

In the third act, Sonya's heartbreak and Aastrov's love for Elena, the professor's wife, reveal the professor's self-serving plan to sell off his unprofitable estate. The professor's self-serving plan to sell off his unprofitable estate is revealed to everyone. When Vanya's uncle, who has been managing the estate for 25 years and sending money to the professor for a paltry fee, is told of this, he is outraged, and a pistol is fired.

In the fourth act, the comedy is over and everything is back to normal. The curtain closes with Uncle Vanya and Sonya's sad thoughts as they quietly welcome the eternal rest that will soon come to them after all their hardships.

Stanislavsky wrote of the excitement of that first performance in his memoir, "My Life in Art.

An incompetent and unimportant professor is living a comfortable life. He has earned the reputation of a professor of great renown and is the object of adoration in all of Petersburg, where he writes silly scientific books, which his mother, an old woman named Wojnitskaya, reads over and over.

Everyone was in a fever, even Uncle Vanya himself became obsessed for a time, thinking of him as a great man and working his land without loss or gain to support this celebrity.

But it becomes clear that Serebryakov is a papier-mâché puppet unqualified to occupy a high position, while living talents like Uncle Vanya and Aastrov spend their lives rotting away in the vast, uncivilized backwoods of Russia.

And they want to bring the real workers, the hard workers, who are freezing in the grassy countryside, into power and put them in high positions instead of the famous, but incompetent, Serebryakovs.

Chikuma Shobo, Yutaka MatsushitaChekhov's Light and Shadow.P160-162

The main character, Uncle Vanya, gave everything for the professor and worked himself to death in his country estate.

But it becomes clear that the professor is in fact an incompetent upholsterer, and that his 25 years of dedication were merely in the service of an illusion.

Uncle Vanya was a talented man. But because he believed in an illusion, he squandered his talent and was doomed to live a life of decay in the countryside. His rebellion and awakening are the main themes of the play.

There was a line from Vanya in the second half of the play that made my heart pound. Here it is.

I've lost my whole life. I am a manly man with arms and a brain. If I had lived a decent life, I could have been Schopenhauer or Dostoevsky. ......What a load of crap! Oh, I'm losing my mind.

Shinchosha, translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Seagull, Uncle Vanya, p. 211-212

I was a bit surprised to see Dostoevsky's name mentioned in a Chekhov play. I am not sure what Chekhov's intention was in bringing them out, but I think it suggests that Dostoevsky is a writer worthy of his fame, even for Chekhov.

The film ends with a scene that leaves one with an indescribable afterglow about the awakening of life. Chekhov scholar Seiro Sato states, "The end of this work is a scene that leaves an indescribable aftertaste of life's awakening.

Vanya's final line of dialogue in the final act is, "Sonya, it's hard for me. If only you could understand my pain! I wish you could understand how hard it is for me!

In other words, they are not resigned to giving up. The suffering continues. Both in his body and in his mind. But Chekhov does not respect a life without suffering. He believed that suffering was an important means for a human being to live like a human being.

Chekhov's entire oeuvre is full of scorn for the complacent "happy-go-lucky. We are free to see the resignation of the weak in Sonya's consolation: "Let us patiently and patiently endure the trials that ...... fate throws at us," but for those of good will who lived at the distant dawn of time, this must have been a sad and admirable resolve. For people of good will who lived in the distant age of the dawn of time, this must have been a painful and admirable resolve, and for those who still live today, each enduring some kind of misfortune, it is a voice that pierces their hearts. Just as the young Gorky was once so moved by these words that he couldn't help but sob.

Suffering will still be hereafter. But the illusion is no more. Now, the "ground" of awakening is under our feet.

I hear an invitation to "awakening" from this play.

Chikuma Shobo, Seiro SatoThe World of Chekhov's Plays.P93

Chekhov criticizes the self-satisfied well-wisher.

The work in which this is most evident is the work "Suguri," which I introduced earlier.

The professor, who was comfortable in his own happy circumstances, was unaware of the suffering of Vanya and the others. Vanya, who had talent and strength, sacrificed herself to support the incompetent professor, and ended up living a life of decay in the countryside.

But in the final act, Vanya awakens. He is now on the road to a life of suffering. Of course, it is not a leaping happiness. But it is the beginning of a life of enduring and living with suffering.

This is why Gorky cried, Sato said.

This play is a work of even more mature playwriting than "The Seagull," a work that revolutionized the Russian theater world.

The above is a synopsis of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" and my impression - the play that made Gorky weep.

Next Article.

Click here to read the previous article.

Click here for a list of Chekhov's recommended works.

Related Articles