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Literature In Society

Essay by 24  •  May 5, 2011  •  984 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,425 Views

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Anton Chekhov Misery, "To Whom Shall I Tell My Grief" is a short story that is written in a purposeful and direct style. The main character in the story is a sledge driver whose name is Iona. He is grief stricken because of his son's recent death. Unfortunately, he still has to make a living, and consequently finds limited time to grieve or find any type of closure. Misery is a story for all society. It is a short story with fictional characters, but a true to life dilemma that we will all face some day. It is a story of the inexplicable nature of our society and its overwhelming sense of self importance and lack of selflessness.

My initial reaction to this fictional short story was one of introspection. "Misery" made me examine myself and what I believe to be an inherent trait of humankind, the exaggerated perception of self-importance. It is cultivated in us as children and grows stronger as we age. As a whole, we are consumed by our own being, our sense of self. We are pre-occupied with our own lives, and fail to see what is happening right in front of us or in the moment. We are easily preoccupied or distracted by our own "trials and tribulations," no matter how trivial they may be. In the short story there were plenty of examples of human ignorance and self absorption. Iona the sledge driver sees this firsthand through the customers who ride in his sledge. The first example of ignorance and callousness is his first fare. The first customer was an officer who was in a hurry to get to Vyborgskaya, with his only concern being getting from point "A" to point "B" as quickly as possible. The officer commented negatively about Iona, saying his driving was slow or poor because he was not paying attention. Iona was obviously distracted by his plight in life and wanted to share his grief but the officer would have none of it. It was of no importance to him (the officer). There was also a second fair which was comprised of three young rambunctious men, who were traveling to the police bridge for a fare that was ridiculously unreasonable. For Iona, even though the fare was not of fair market value, it was accepted for two reasons; first through Anton Chekhov's description, Iona was far from a rich man and most likely needed the money, secondly through his sadness, and I do not think he cared; he was just going through the motions of his everyday life. Again, he tried to share his grief with the three customers and again it meant nothing to his customers. The three men had a more important agenda to follow. The death of Iona's son was of no importance to the travelers.

In my view, the major insight the reading presented, is a common problem with the human condition that transcends time. I do not think the story told the reader anything new or not already known, but the storyline is a good reminder of what we all need to practice daily, which is empathy and selflessness. It is the part of the human psyche which I believe could use improvement.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short story and thought it gave a very good description of what each of us will experience at some time in our lives. Not in the exact same circumstance but in a context with a similar perspective. It was easy to empathize with Iona. His



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