The Bear


Authorsuse different techniques to express their thoughts and pass aspecific message to the audience through the themes in their works.Drama is one of the highly entertaining literary devices because itallows the writers to shape the characters to suit their desiredbehaviors. TheBear: A Joke in One Act,authored by Anton Chekhov, is a short, yet engaging piece that wasinitially done in Russian. Chekhov dedicates the play to NikolaiNikolaevich, his childhood friend. He is a renowned writer of shortfiction and literary critics.

Bornin 1860, Chekhov trained as a medical doctor, a career that hepracticed throughout his life. His love for literature inspired himto write various works, including, UncleVanya, The Seagull, andTheCherry Orchardamong others. Although he initially ventured into art for financialgains, his ambition grew, and he became a pioneer of the earlymodernism in the theater. TheBearwas first performed in Korsh Theater in Moscow on October 1888(Scarborough). Both professionals, as well as amateur audiences,received it positively, and it became a high royalty earner forChekhov. In the play, Chekhov illustrates how a woman can quellaggression. The Popova calms the bear in the story. TheBear depicts how characters can alter their perceptions and robustpredilections because of the implication of inherent feelings.

Thedrama revolves around three characters Elena Ivanovna Popova,Grigory Stpanovitch Smirnov, and Luka. Popova is a sentimental youngwoman who decides to remain faithful even after the death of herhusband (Chekhov 38). Smirnov tries to enter into a relationship withher, but she is outrightly against the idea. Eventually, she givesin when Smirnov proposes to her. Smirnov is the bear in the play. Heis a retired artillery professional with a high social status in thesociety. His strong physical appearance and aggression reflect thecharacters of a bear. Popova’s aggressive nature impressesSmirnov. In return, Smirnov reconsiders the thoughts about Popovaand likens her to a rocket (Chekhov 42). Luka plays the role of afootman throughout the drama. The theme of love makes afarce. In addition, the boisterous situations in the play reflect thehypocrisy of the Russian society that was common in the 19th century(Scarborough). The way the author represents Smirnov and Popova’sinitial attitude towards each other gives the play an antagonistictone.

Popovamourns the death of her husband in the belief that she cannot exhaustthe feeling of remorse. She also believes that she cannot continuewith her life without her husband’s presence (Gottlieb 47). Lukaadvises her that she is not doing justice to herself by remainingconfined in the house (Chekhov 39). Although she is in grief, sheconfesses to Luka, &quotI know it`s no secret to you that he wasoften unfair to me, cruel, and… and even unfaithful, but I shall betrue till death, and show him how I can love&quot (Chekhov 41).Smirnov comes to the house to ask for money that Popova’s husbandowed him. Nonetheless, Popova does not have the cash, so he tellsSmirnov to collect it on the following day. However, Smirnov insiststhat he would not leave without the money. She is angry with him andutters defensively, &quotYou`re a rude, ill-bred man! Decent peopledon`t talk to a woman like that!&quot (Chekhov 42). Smirnov openlydescribes his attitude towards women. He provides that, &quotAllwomen, great or little, are insincere, crooked, backbiters, envious,liars to the marrow of their bones, vain, trivial, merciless,unreasonable&quot (Chekhov 41). His utterance is a reflection of howthe society perceived women.

Inaddition, the comparison that Popova makes between Smirnov and herhusband also portrays the submissive nature of women despite theunfaithfulness of their spouses. Popova dares Simonov into a duelalthough she does not know how to fire a gun (Chekhov 45). Smirnovtrains her but turns down the offer to fight by claiming that he wasin love with her.

Ibelieve that it is hypocritical for the two characters to expresscontempt for each other while they had mutual love feelings. Popovahad vowed to remain faithful, even after her husband’s demise, onlyto fall in love with Smirnov. On the other hand, the bear believesthat all women are false as well as sentimental, and cannot betrusted. In spite of the venomous claims, Smirnov enters into arelationship with Popova. Through dialogue, the author portrays theactual attributes of the characters.

Asthe play progress, the conversations between Popova and Smirnov shiftfrom respectful to full of contempt. At first, it is difficult forthe audience to project a possible intimacy between the two. I alsopresume that Chekhov wanted to illustrate that love can develop fromodd situations. It is dramatic that affection can blend at the pointof a duel (Scarborough). The author makes the play even morestartling by providing an apprehensive ending.

Inconclusion, TheBeardepicts how individuals can change their perceptions to embracenatural feelings despite holding on to robust stances. Chekovexploits dialogue to bring out the attitudes that the characters havetowards each other. The author clearly demonstrates the closerelationship between anger and passion. He also illustrates howdramatic individual feelings can change from hatred to love. WhenPopova gives in to Smirnov’s kiss, it is challenging to predict howthe two would relate, given their initial disrespect towards eachother.


Theabove picture clearly describes the feelings that Popova and Smirnovhave for each other. Popova is threatening him with a pistol andseems to laugh off her idea. The scene took place in Popova’s housewhen Smirnov refuses to leave without his dues.


Chekhov,Anton. TwelvePlays. A Bear, A Joke, in One Act.New York: Oxford University Press, 1888. Print.

Gottlieb,Vera. AStudy of Chekhov`s One-Act Plays. United Kingdom:Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Scarborough,James. Chekhov Shorts, Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre. TheHuffington Post,2014. Web