The Play itself tells the story of Nikolai Ivanov. For the past five years, he has been married to Anna Petrovna who is currently very ill. Ivanov's estate is run by a distant relative, Mihail Borkin, who is frequently advising people on how he can help them make money. The doctor, Lvov, an honest man as he frequently reminds the rest of the cast, informs Ivanov that his wife is dying of Tuberculosis, and that she needs rest in the Crimea. Unfortunately, Ivanov is unable to afford that, since he owes Zeenaeda Saveshna 9000 roubles. Many of the characters admonish Ivanov, who is spending time at Pavel Lyebedev's house rather than being with his sick wife.