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Contrasting views of adultery between Joyce Carol Oates' and Anton

Chekov's The Lady with the Pet Dog

The underlining theme of the two renditions of the story "The Lady with the

Pet Dog ," are the two affairs that took place and the difference in the way that the

affairs are portrayed. In Anton Chekov's version, which was written in 1899 and

set in Russia, the main character is Dmitry Dmitrich Gurov, a married but lonely

man who by chance meets a younger lady named Anna Sergeyevna who is in a

similar predicament. The two discover themselves in love but they realize that their

relationship can never be. In Joyce Carol Oates' more modern story of the same

name the situation is the same but this time it is Anna who is the main character

and a more forgiving society that gives her the freedom to give into her passions.

In the first chapter of Chekov's version of "The Lady with the Pet Dog"; the

main character, Dmitry Gurov is shown to be a man trapped in an unfulfilling

marriage and in turn has lost faith in love as is evident by his quote that women are

"the inferior race." We are told that Dmitry had affairs before, but when he meets

Anna, he realizes that love is real he feels it with her; she in turn feels that she is in

love with him too; she can't stand to feel societies scorn at her affair.

Throughout the entire story she feels like terminating their relationship, and

in the end we are left with the outcome of their affair unknown, but the feeling is

that it would not continue, if it did life would only become more and more

unbearable for the both of them.

In Joyce Carol Oates' version of "The Lady with the Pet Dog" Anna is a

more modern woman. She is so bothered by her guilt at the affair that she

considers suicide at one point. The stress and the guilt are nearly unbearable.

Everytime the phone rings or someone comes to her door, she fears that it is her

lover who has come to destroy her life by exposing their affair. By the time the

story ends, Anna gives in and admits that she loves him too, leaving us with the

feeling that their relationship would defiantly continue.

Although these two stories have a similar theme, the reactions of the main female

characters are very different. In Anton Chekov's version Anna is drawn to Dmitry

and reluctantly continues the affair over a period of time, becoming less and less

comfortable with the situation. In Joyce Carol Oates' version Anna experiences the

same things but eventually she comes to accept her feelings and in essence says,

"To hell with everybody else. I want and deserve to be happy." These two stories

were written with only a few decades between them, but society changes with each

passing day. It was not so long ago that women were neglected and abused by their

husbands without anyone asking any questions. We have come very far from those

days, which is a good thing. But where do we go from here? Open marriages and

wild orgies? I am not so sure that is a good thing either.


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