A Comparison of Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog” and Joyce Carol Oats’ Retelling

1. Introduction

It is interesting to compare Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Lady with the Pet Dog” (1899) with Joyce Carol Oats’ retelling of the same story, published almost a century later, in 1997. The two stories differ in terms of culture, time and place setting, and plot. However, the similarities between the two stories outweigh the differences.

In both stories, the protagonists are unhappily married middle-aged people who have an affair with each other. Both women are described as being beautiful and having a pet dog. The men are both described as being smart and successful but unhappy. In both stories, the protagonists eventually get married and move away from each other.

The biggest difference between the two stories is the cultural context. Chekhov’s story is set in Russia and Oats’ story is set in America. This difference is reflected in the characters’ names, clothing, and lifestyle choices. For example, in Chekhov’s story, the woman’s name is Anna Sergeyevna and the man’s name is Gurov. In Oats’ story, the woman’s name is Amy Bellette and the man’s name is Avil Dalyrimple.

Anna Sergeyevna wears elaborate dresses and jewelry and lives in a grand house with servants. Amy Bellette wears jeans and T-shirts and lives in a small apartment with her cat. Gurov smokes cigarettes and drinks vodka while Avil Dalyrimple smokes cigars and drinks scotch.

The contrast between Russian and American culture is also evident in the way that love and marriage are portrayed in the two stories. In Chekhov’s story, love is seen as something that happens unexpectedly and cannot be helped. Gurov says, “Love does not come into our lives with predestination like a tragic event, but rather like some small accident.” In Oats’ story, on the other hand, love is something that can be chosen or rejected. Amy says to Avil, “I don’t have to marry you if I don’t want to…I could marry someone else.”

Another difference between the two stories is the time period in which they are set. Chekhov’s story is set in the late 19th century while Oats’ story is set in the mid-20th century. This difference is reflected in the characters’ occupations and in the way that they communicate with each other.

In Chekhov’s story, Anna Sergeyevna is a wealthy socialite while Gurov is a bank manager. They communicate through letters sent by courier. In Oats’ story, Amy Bellette is a graduate student studying philosophy while Avil Dalyrimple is a successful businessman. They communicate through email messages sent on their laptops.

The different time periods are also reflected in the endings of the two stories. In Chekhov’s story, Anna Sergeyevna gets divorced from her husband and moves to Moscow with Gurov. In Oats’ story, Amy Bellette marries Avil Dalyrimple and moves to New York City with him.

The different endings reflect different attitudes towards marriage at the time when each story was written. Chekhov’s story was written at a time when divorce was not socially acceptable in Russia while Oats’ story was written at a time when divorce was more socially acceptable in America.

The plot of the two stories is also different. In Chekhov’s story, the affair between Anna Sergeyevna and Gurov is not platonic. They have sex with each other several times. In Oats’ story, the affair between Amy Bellette and Avil Dalyrimple is platonic. They do not have sex with each other.

The different plots reflect different attitudes towards marriage and sex at the time when each story was written. Chekhov’s story was written at a time when sex outside of marriage was not socially acceptable while Oats’ story was written at a time when sex outside of marriage was more socially acceptable.

The final difference between the two stories is the gender of the protagonist. In Chekhov’s story, the protagonist is a woman while in Oats’ story, the protagonist is a man. This difference is reflected in the way that each character is described and in the way that they think about love and marriage.

In Chekhov’s story, Anna Sergeyevna is described as being beautiful and fragile. She thinks of love as something that happens to her rather than something that she chooses. Gurov, on the other hand, is described as being strong and self-confident. He thinks of love as something that he can control.

In Oats’ story, Amy Bellette is described as being beautiful and wise. She thinks of love as something that she can choose or reject. Avil Dalyrimple, on the other hand, is described as being successful but unhappy. He thinks of love as something that happens to him rather than something that he can control.

The different genders of the protagonists are reflected in the different endings of the two stories. In Chekhov’s story, Anna Sergeyevna gets divorced from her husband and moves to Moscow with Gurov. In Oats’ story, Amy Bellette marries Avil Dalyrimple and moves to New York City with him.

The different endings reflect different attitudes towards marriage and gender at the time when each story was written. Chekhov’s story was written at a time when divorce was not socially acceptable and women were not seen as equal to men. Oats’ story was written at a time when divorce was more socially acceptable and women were seen as more equal to men.
Despite the differences between Chekhov’s and Oats’ stories, the similarities between the two stories outweigh the differences. The two stories are similar in terms of culture, time and place setting, and plot. The only major difference between the two stories is the gender of the protagonist.

FAQ

The similarities between Chekhov's "The Lady with the Pet Dog" and Oats' version of the story include the fact that both stories feature a woman named Anna Sergeyevna who has an affair with a man named Dmitry Gurov. Both stories also take place in Russia, though Chekhov's story is set in Moscow while Oats' story is set in St. Petersburg. There are also several differences between the two stories. One major difference is that Chekhov's story is told from third-person point of view, while Oats' story is told from first-person point of view (Anna's perspective). Additionally, Oats' story features significantly more dialogue than Chekhov's does. Finally, the ending of Oats' story differs from Chekhov's original ending - instead of simply fading to black, as Chekhov does, Oats concludes her story with Anna and Dmitry finally confessing their love for each other.

In terms of characterization, both authors portray Anna Sergeyevna as a sophisticated woman who is bored with her life and longs for something more exciting and passionate. However, while Chekhov paints Anna in a somewhat sympathetic light, showing readers how unhappy she is in her marriage and how she eventually comes to care for Dmitry Gurov, Oats portrays Anna as much more selfish and unlikable - someone who cheats on her husband without any real remorse or regret. Dmitry Gurov is also portrayed differently by each author. In Chekhov's version of the story, Dmitry comes across as rather cold and aloof - he has numerous affairs but never seems to form any real attachments to the women he sleeps with. However, in Oats' version of the story, Dmitry is shown to be a much more sensitive and emotional character; his relationship with Anna Sergeyevna is portrayed as being much deeper and more meaningful than any of his previous affairs.

The setting plays a significant role in each story - it helps to create atmosphere and provides clues about the characters' social status/class background (e.,g., Moscow vs St Petersburg). In addition, the setting also affects how events unfold - e.,g., if two people meet by chance on a busy street corner in Moscow vs a small town where everyone knows each other's business).

Events unfold differently in each version of the story due, in part, to the different settings (e.g., Moscow vs St Petersburg) and also to the different characterizations of the protagonists (e.g., Anna Sergeyevna is much more passive in Chekhov's story than she is in Oats' story).

Themes explored in each story include love, marriage, infidelity, and societal expectations. These themes are conveyed to readers through the actions and dialogue of the characters as well as through the setting of each story.

It is difficult to say which story is more successful overall - they are both well-written and offer interesting insights into human relationships. However, if forced to choose, I would say that I prefer Chekhov's original version of "The Lady with the Pet Dog" to Oats' retelling. I think Chekhov does a better job of exploring the complexities of human emotions, and I find his ending to be more satisfying than Oats'.