Comparative analysis of Chekhov’s “Ionych” and “Anna on the Neck”. Essay

December 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

Updated: Nov 6th, 2019

Chekhov is one of the most celebrated Russian essayist, short story-writer, physician and a playwright. His works has made him to be viewed as one of the greatest and pioneering short-story writers. As a dramatist he managed to produce four exceptional classics while his superior short-stories are held in high esteem by literary writers as well as critics.

Basically, his writings touched on both social and political issues affecting the society. Unlike his previous works some of his recognized writings which principally examined the aspects of power. “Ionych” and “Anna on the Neck”, for instance, candidly depicts the battle involving sexes.

The concept of power is decisively illustrated where material power which goes together with rank and social status is pitted against sexual power. Anna on the Neck exposes the fact that beauty can be exploited as a tool of gaining power.

Using a simple language and an articulated explanation Chekhov captures the imagination of the society through the use of satire. The conceptions which were employed to examine the supremacy of male or female in the wake of 19th century are evident in this writing. Therefore, looking at the patriarchal suppression and domination women were seen as powerless.

In Ionych he presents a new twist in the manner he develops the story. A young doctor is portrayed as being principally unstable. This is linked to the manner he lost his idealism including the high spirits he had acquired. Money became the central single he became obsessed with. Through an accumulation of an assortment of inconsequential incidents over the years the young doctor had changed.

Chekhov sees this change as imperceptible but it had a definitive sway over his life including his relation with others. The replacement of his youthful romanticism with materialistic quest illustrates how the power generated by wealth can cause irreversible damage or effect on either an individual or the community as whole (Allen 107).

The two stories paints a vivid picture of how power whether on metaphorical or social reality can be destructive if unchecked. That is why Chekhov utilizes both metaphorical reality and social aspects to illustrate the effects of power. Hence, as the two stories depicts power whether attained peacefully or violently can be injurious. This is well portrayed by the manner the protagonists behaves before and after reaching the apex of their wealth which translates to monetary power.

The young doctor, for instance, neglects his clients in the pursuit of wealth while Katya due to the influence and command he had due to his father’s wealth turns down the marriage offer by the young doctor. The style and approach employed by the author exposes the major weaknesses apparent in the protagonist’s lives.

Therefore, the central goal which ties the two stories together is the complexity of the power in their individual lives. The aspect of power whether utilized as a metaphor, irony or just plain symbolism reflects the intricate relationship between what an individual cherished and what one attains by gaining influence.

Rising to the level of material supremacy as well as the realization that beauty can be used a weapon of influence is symbolically interesting. Therefore, as depicted in the story “Anna on the Neck”, beauty was utilized to generated power which changed the protagonists fortunes.

While the story of “Ionych” illustrates how the monetary power can have devastating effect on the individual. Thus, Chekhov employed an almost similar plot line structure to develop these stories. Their settings though dissimilar share the same content of power. While the symbolism employed in both stories indicates the cardinal intention of the author was to illuminate the shortcomings of the society and in particular the ruling class.


Chekhov wrote the two stories in an almost parallel manner. Though they differ in presentation but the message is equally identical. The theme in both stories illustrates that the protagonists shares a common destiny. The young doctor from a humble beginning deviates from the community expectations, while Ann from a being a humble housewife turns to be a domineering woman and an adultery. These commonalities have developed gradually with time. The two stories depict the life of 19th century Russia.

Perhaps that is why Chekhov develops his setting against the themes that are correlated to the way the Russians in all their way of life co-existed. Hence, as the two novels tackles the issue of power the author demonstrates the power is exploited in all human spheres. Using symbolism to reflect on the aspects of power he employs metaphoric instruments to portray this dynamism. That is why, for instance, he have symbolically used locomotive in Anna on the Neck to illustrate the potential of uncontrolled power.

On the other hand the manner the story of the juvenile peasants; rogues, and bored lords faithless husbands and wives; imprudent and wise peasants are woven is exceptional. Therefore, as the young woman realized the potential in her beauty so did the young doctor did he realize the power of money.

With elaborate plot and unique transitions Chekhov paints a vivid picture of how the protagonists believed in their capabilities. The way the doctor deals with his patients illustrates he was influenced by the new status he had attained due to his success.

In both stories the protagonist have attempted to delineate from something, Anna was running away from poverty, while the doctor Dmitry Ionych Startsev who is a physician in a provincial town was attempting to forget and heal the wounds of rejection. Anna character is developed along the line of self-sufficiency, affluent and destruction.

Equally, the personality of the young doctor is structured on the similar line of attack. However, the predominant aspect pertains to the manner Chekhov forges a parallel similarity of the two. Both Ionych and Anna are disturbed by the unfamiliar developments in their individual lives.

The similarity of the two narratives is therefore etched between self-destruction and ignorance. This is plainly illustrated in Ionych where the author asserts “Probably because his throat is covered with rolls of fat, his voice . has become thin and sharp. His temper has changed, too; he has become ill humored and irritable” (Finke 92). Illustrating how the power can be metaphorically viewed as an element of change.

Also Chekhov has developed Anne on the Neck on the social scope of change which is well demonstrated in the second part of the narrative. Therefore, concerning the way the two stories have been developed the characters demonstrates how they struggled with their lives in search of a change. Hence, this change overlapped their sense of belonging and the greed for consuming power took over their lives.

From a common perspective this aspect is linked to the manner the protagonists endeavor to seek solace after falling from grace after their influence diminishes. Perhaps this indicates why Chekhov attempts to communicate his opinion regarding power using metaphors through the characters whose life reflected the challenges that engulfed almost the entire Russian society.

In essence, the evolutions in the young doctor as well as the maturity of Anne and their subsequent controversial life forms a predominant similarity that is linked to fate.

Chekhov in both narratives managed to lay out novel paths for the growth of the protagonists. He declined to split his characters into either angels and desperados, or one-sided depiction or presentation of good or evil. Unlike in contemporary prose works, he stayed away from plot conspiracy and reallocated the heart of gravity to the concealed, inner plot relating to the mental realm of the two protagonists.

Plot materializes not as a sequence of occurrences but as the account of protagonists’ aspiration to take action in addition to his efforts to rupture out of his day by day schedule—away from connections of “banal catastrophe.”


Chekhov is recognized for creating characters who reflects the immediate challenges of the society. Looking at the way he developed the plot and the themes of Anna on the Neck and Ionych, the characters are in a way dissimilar from his common approach. The concept is clearly demonstrated by the protagonists in the two stories who are dissimilar in thought and action.

Though developed from the angle of amusement, the narratives explore diverse and dynamic attributes of power. For instance, Anna on the Neck touches more on domestic supremacy while on the other hand Ionych explores the features of professional negligence due to monetary influence. Though the difference is quite thin the manner Chekhov developed their consecutive themes is illustrated by the imagery and symbolism in the plot of these tales.

Moving against the dynamics of story telling in Ionych he shunned the most exploited elements of drama. Exploiting the concepts of internal plot he examined the protagonist’s action to newly acquired destiny. Through the concealed dynamics within the protagonist’s life both narratives do not agree on the diversity of exploitation.

Anna in his capacity illustrates how beauty could be exploited to gain prominence. While on the other hand the young doctor is depicted as illustrating how hard work can generate wealth which leads to influential; status.

Another contrasting feature exposed in these two stories regards the way Chekhov had developed multiple themes correlating to all involved characters. Therefore, the protagonists in the narratives are immersed in their own world under dissimilar conditions.

As the two stories are developed almost on a parallel setting the concept of moral aspects are vividly visible. This is where the moral issues regarding the protagonists rise conflicts. Anna was from a poor family, the young doctor had a fortune due to his occupation.

However, their individual growth differs, while Anna was married by a respected government official, the young doctor Dmitry Ionych Startsev had become rich and deteriorated morally as he gained in prominence and became financially successful. Therefore, the material context of the two writings considerably differs.

The manner the young doctor was turned down by Katya whom he was interested in ushers the pivotal pace by which the narrative of Ionych rests. Therefore, He has no consideration of the Turkins’ private lives or mayhem, nor can he discern genuine artistic endowment, which the Turkins require, from sheer show. He becomes cynical in the face of anguish and dedicates his life to monetary incentive. This is mirrored in his appalling handling of patients.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that Anna on the Neck as well as Ionych differs in the manner the line of attack has been established. While one story carries a considerable amount of action. The other is anchored on the anvil of moderation.

The manner the two protagonists rise and their eventual decline in both moral and physical form have been developed along the invisible borders of metaphorical influence. Chekhov employs this feature to illustrate the reality of change which is fuelled by newly attained freedom, as is with Anna and the young doctor’s love for monetary rewards.

The general establishment of the two narratives are linked to the manner Chekhov exploits the dynamics of imagery and symbolism to tell his story. Though the protagonists have been presented as weak and susceptible, self-will and determination have been established as the central force compelling the protagonist fate. Anna, for instance is presented as a woman who was weak but attained influence to her beauty.

Through her beauty she managed to escape from the confines of her authoritative husband. Such an occurrence is dissimilarly presented on a reverse order in the story of Ionych. This illustrates how Chekhov developed the way both aspects of metaphor and social reality are viewed in regard to power. More so, the exploration of adultery shows how he viewed the aspects of social decay through the spectrum of power.

Therefore, the parallel development of the two narratives exposes how the leading protagonists depicted the reality of symbolic aspects of power in the community.

Without exploring the philosophy of religion the issues of ethics are compactly established along the pillars on which both the young doctor and Anna had gained in prominence before sinking low due to the same ethical issues. Therefore, it would be quite imperative to argue that Chekhov through the two stories was navigating through the emerging social strata in the Russian community.

The way the two stories are developed reflects the innate weaknesses apparent in the society due to lack of effective management. Thus, the two narratives are symbolic in nature which means the prominence of the protagonist in their distinctive environment depicts both social and individual change which resulted in physical and moral rot.


The author seems to have explored the nature of the Russian society. That is why he developed the parallel stories to expose the manner the society was rotting. The story of Anna and the depiction of infidelity illustrate just how unchecked power can cause instability.

While the narrative of Ionych exposes the evil that financial power can generate. Hence, the two stories though with different setting and contextual background reflects the havoc such instabilities can cause. Therefore, the aspects of metaphorical power as well as social power are real as is illustrated by the two protagonists.

Works Cited

Allen, David.Performing Chekhov.NY: Routledge, 2001

Finke, Michael C. Seeing Chekhov: Life and Art. Cornell: Cornell UP, 2005

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