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The Lady with the Dog: Summary & Setting

Instructor: Joshua Wimmer

Joshua holds a master's degree in Latin and has taught a variety of Classical literature and language courses.

The protagonist of Anton Chekov's short story had to wait for days to find out who 'The Lady with the Dog' was, but you don't! Just take a few minutes to check out this lesson with a synopsis of the story and some information on its famous resort setting.

Lookin' for Love: A Brief Synopsis of Chekhov's 'The Lady with the Dog'

If you've ever listened to country music from the 1980's, you're probably familiar with the hit song 'Lookin' for Love.' It suggests that we often look for love 'in all the wrong places' or perhaps 'in too many faces,' which seems to be precisely the problem of the protagonist in Anton Chekhov's famous short story, 'The Lady with the Dog.' The story is divided into four sections.

In the first, we're introduced to Dmitri Gurov, who is taking a solo vacation in Yalta. Despite having three children, Dmitri is greatly dissatisfied in his marriage to a woman whom he looks down on and who 'he had begun being unfaithful to long ago.' What's more, he looks at all women as belonging to 'the lower race' - that is, until he meets Anna Sergeyevna, the lady with the dog.

After watching her closely for a few days to make sure he wouldn't be hampered in his pursuit, Gurov makes his move one evening at dinner. He coaxes over Anna's Pomeranian to catch her attention, and the two share some polite conversation during which we discover that Anna is herself married, but also travelling alone. Following a brief conversation, the two continue their meals and part ways.

A week has passed since Dmitri and Anna first met as the second section opens, and the two seem to have become fast friends. They beat the heat together by enjoying ice treats and watching the ferry to come into port. As they're standing by the docks one day, Gurov is overcome by a sudden urge to kiss Anna, and the two end up back in her hotel room.

Following their romantic rendezvous at the hotel, Anna is distraught over having committed adultery, and Dmitri tries to comfort her - despite considering her to be naïve in her guilt. Anna admits to some displeasure with her own spouse as Gurov nonchalantly eats some watermelon. However, his cold attitude toward the situation appears to soften when he calls a cab to take them on an evening drive. Afterward, the two continue their affair, meeting every day at lunch and stealing kisses in public. It all ends abruptly, though, when Anna gets a letter from her husband asking for her quick return.

As the second section ends with the two parting ways (expectedly forever), the third finds Dmitri back home in Moscow. Everything appears to be falling into its winter routine, and Gurov expects that any thoughts of Anna 'would be shrouded in a mist of his memory' as all of his other trysts have been. However, he's unable to get Anna off his mind, eventually even driven to visit her at home in an unnamed town. After arriving and finding her house, though, he's reluctant to impose and retires to a hotel room to sulk and nap.

After waking, Gurov reasons that he should be able to find Anna that night at a theater production he'd seen advertised. He indeed sees her at the show; however, she's also accompanied by her husband. Nevertheless, when the husband leaves during intermission, Gurov takes the opportunity to interact with Anna, who's initially terrified that Gurov has shown up there. Once the shock wears off, she explains to Dmitri how unhappy she is in her current situation and promises to visit him in Moscow, but only if he'll leave immediately.

Having complied with her request, Gurov begins to see Anna in Moscow as promised as the final section opens. She's been telling her husband that there's a doctor she's seeing there. But the deception seems to be getting to her as she breaks down in tears during her next encounter with Dmitri. Gurov realizes that this illicit love they share won't soon die and that they must find some way of preserving it. Without any real resolution to the issue, the story ends with the couple's joint realization that their relationship has a long and difficult road ahead.

Rejuvenating Resort: Setting in 'The Lady with the Dog'

Although Chekhov's short story has scenes in Moscow and Anna's hometown, the primary location for 'The Lady with the Dog' is Yalta - a popular seaside resort city that played a major role in the love lives of both the author and his protagonist.

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