Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chekov's The Three Sisters

A note from Rebecca, typed by Arta, as we were talking this morning about our common experience of getting just a small taste of Russia:




Giving Gifts on a name day
 
In Chekov’s play, The Three Sisters, there are 3 sisters, with urban tastes but now they live in the country.  The oldest is a school mistress, she is exhausted, her beauty has faded and she is carrying the weight of growing older.

The middle sister is a big beauty, married to the headmaster, but unhappy in her marriage.  He is less cultured and cultivated than she is, now she is grown up.

The youngest sister is young, beautiful and all of the men in the surrounding area are interested in her.  Many suitors are n the house looking for her love.  Many other men are in the house for the pleasure of being with the 3 sisters who exude aristocratic word play, beauty, joy and sophistication.

Then a married man comes around the house who falls in love with the married sister and they have an affair.  One of the things the sisters like about the married man is he always breaking into philosophical statements.  So one of the men says of him, he is nice, but he has this regrettable tendency to philosophize.
 
So now, as a viewer of the play, when he breaks into wondrous pronouncements, I was reminded that philosophy does not renew, but keeps repeating itself in contexts where the promise it held at first seems less and less and thus the philosophizing becomes less gripping.
At the end of the play, he tries to articulate some philosophical pronouncement again and no one is listening.  He seems to have a desperate need to philosophize in order to ward off the terrors of the world.

Now, I was thinking about the Chekov play, the desire for a future to be better, coupled to a deep despair that it won’t be better.  That was beautiful in the play, in a Russian depressing way.  And I do feel myself wanting to say sometimes," I feel so terrible." 

Wait. 

Let me philosophize.

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