Plays Directory : The Proposal

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  • Author
    Anton Chekhov
  • Written
    1888-1889
  • Overview
    a one-act play by Anton Chekhov, written in 1888-1889.

    Although best known for his longer, more serious plays, Chekhov also wrote a number of short farces, which include the one-act A Marriage Proposal. Chekhov wrote several farces, as these types of plays were very popular at the time.

    A Marriage Proposal is about the tendency of wealthy families to seek other wealthy families, to increase their estates by encouraging marriages that made good economic sense, and the problems that arise in marriage.

    In Chekhov's Russia, marriage was a mean of economic stability for most people. They marry to gain wealth and possessions. In this particular play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage. Marriage is portrayed as a materialistic gain and not for the reason of true love. The satire is conveyed successfully by emphasizing the couple's foolish arguments over small things. The main arguments in the play revolve around "The Oxen Meadows" and two dogs called "Ugadi and Otkatai".

    In the play, Ivan Vassilevich Lomov, a long-time wealthy neighbor of Stepan Stepanovich Chubukov (who is also wealthy) has come to propose marriage to Chubukov's 25-year-old daughter, Natalya. After he has asked and received permission to marry Natalya, she is invited into the room, and he tries to convey to her the proposal. He fails. Lomov is a hypochondriac, and, while trying to make clear his reasons for being there, he gets into arguments with Natalia and ends up having "palpitations" and a numb leg. After her father notices they are arguing, he joins in, and then sends Ivan out of the house. Stepan then tells his daughter that Lomov was about to propose, and at this news she immediately starts "dying" and screams for her father to bring him back. He does, and Natalya and Ivan get into a second big argument, this time about the dogs. Ivan collapses and they fear he's died. However, after a few minutes he regains consciousness, and Chubukov all but forces him and his daughter to accept the proposal with a kiss. Immediately following the kiss, the couple get into yet another argument. Here the play ends.
  • Play
    Download the text for free from Project Gutenberg here: The Proposal

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Alternative Names

A Marriage Proposal