The story ” About Love” by Anton Chekhov is an attempt to establish love as a great mystery. It has been defined in dozens of ways but a definition applicable to one affair may not be applicable to many other relationships. So, one thing can certainly be said about love that it is a great mystery. This story discusses the both mysterious love affairs in their own way.
The story starts with a casual discussion during a breakfast among friends, about a love affairs between Ninkanor and beautiful Paleageya. Paleageya and Ninkanor, both were servants in Alyohin’s house. Nikanor was an ugly, drunkard who even punched Palageya when he got drunk, still she loved him dearly. She was ready to live with him. Nikanor wanted to get married with her but she wanted to stay with him just like that. The mysterious thing about this affair is – why Palageya hasn’t fallen in love with somebody like herself and why she fell in love with someone like Nikanor.
Then the conversation turned to Russian attitude towards love. Alyohin said that love is usually poeticized, made colorful and songs dedicated to it, but the Russians unnecessarily spend time discussing the difficult questions about love instead removing the obstacles that come on the way of love.
Then he went on to narrate his own unsuccessful love affair with his friend’s wife. Alyohin was a single man. So he was eager to talk about his love experience. Even though he was highly educated he stayed in Sofyino as a farmer because he had to pay the debt which his father had taken to educate him. Before coming to Sofyino he was elected honorary justice of peace. he used to get to the court in town. There he came in contact with many educated men and women there. One of them was Luganovich. He became intimate with him. Once he was invited to Luganovich’s house for a dinner, there he met Anna, Luganovich’s wife and fell in love with her. Then he started visiting them often. If he did not go there for sometime, Anna used to get crossed with him. The relationship went on for a long time but both of them could not express their love to each other. They used to go for theatrical performance together and spend a lot of time talking to each other but could not express their love. His love towards her grew internally. He started becoming unhappy. He could not understand why such a beautiful and young girl married an old uninteresting fellow like Luganovich.
He noticed lately that some dissatisfaction was there in Anna. She stated to be moody, unhappy and irritated. She was treated for a psychological problem. As all relationship have to part one day, it was time for them to separate. Luganovich was transferred from the city to the west. Anna was also to go to Crimea for further treatment.
It was time to see off Anna. There was a big gathering. The train was about to leave. Knowingly or unknowingly Anna forgot her basket. Aloyohin went to the compartment with the basket. There he took her in his arms and both of them cried. He kissed her and confessed his love. Finally, he had to leave her. He went to the next compartment and cried a lot. He got down at the next station. This was the end of their love affair. The mysterious thing about this affair is that they did not express their love to each other for seven years when they were together and confessed it, in the last few minutes of their life.
Important questions and answers:
1. “About is a brief account of a violent affair between two servants.” Explain.
Ans: In the story, the writer mentions about the love affairs between two servants Nikanor and Pelagaya. Their love is innocent one, mostly based on the physical plain of experience. They frankly express their love with each other. They are not bound by the marital relation either. It is a violent story between two servants. In the story, the main character, Nikanor was drunkard and religious minded. He felt in love with Palegeya when he stayed at Alyohin house. But Palegeya does not want to marry him as he used to drink heavily and beat her very badly.
2. Sketch the character of Alyohin.
Ans: Alyohin is a middle class person. He is an ordinary figure both in lifestyle and love making. He is an educated person and elected as a judge in his village. One day, he fell in love with a girl who used to be intimate with him for money. This shows Alyohin is an idiotic character who cannot judge other people. During his stay in city, he fell in love with his friend’s wife Anna when he was offered a dinner by his friend. They began to go to cinema halls, restaurants and other places together, but they never expressed love openly because both of them feels like love between them can ruin their life. This shows the shy and reasonable character of Alyohin. Finally Alyohin realize that love is objection to success in life.