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A Theme of Love in The Lady with The Dog and The Great Gatsby

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In both The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and The Lady with the Dog by Anton Chekhov the authors use among many others, the significant theme of love. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby fell in love with Daisy because of everything she represented. In The Lady with the Dog, Gurov fell in love with Anna because he was not satisfied with his wife. Both men woo woman they do not initially intend to love because of dissatisfaction with their life.

Love in The Great Gatsby is driven by the American dream, wealth, and insecurity. Gatsby loves Daisy not because of who she is but what she has. He sees her life style and that she has things he does not have, and her life exemplified everything he has wanted in life. She was the picture of wealth, coming from a family of old money. Gatsby was a new money meaning he was new to wealth whereas Daisy and her husband Tom had both had wealth in their families for a long time. Bunce says, “Tom is everything Gatsby is not. Tom is a powerful sportsman from old money while Gatsby is a poor army boy with underhanded business dealings. Gatsby believes that having Daisy, and therefore becoming respectable through her old money, will solve all of his problems and put him above those ‘hot struggles of the poor’. Gatsby is envious of Tom and Daisy and struggles with insecurity of coming from a poorer family. His natural discomfort of his own family is what makes Gatsby falsely confident and insecure. The author even states in the book that Gatsby never really accepted his parents because of their social standing. Fitzgerald stated, “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people-his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all.’ Gatsby’s life revolved around wealth and making more of himself and this is when Daisy came into the picture. She could help him accomplish his goals making him feel successful and complete. Daisy is utterly passive just like Anna Sergeyevna in The Lady with the Dog, they accept and allow what is happening even though they know it is morally wrong. Both Daisy and Anna are married but still have an affair. Gatsby is so driven by wealth and the American dream he fails to see Daisy as who she is as a person but often defines her by her wealth. It is hard to know if he is in love with Daisy or in love with the wealth and status. Bunce says, ‘Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor’ (Fitzgerald 150). As readers, we clearly see Gatsby is constantly thinking of the bling and glamorous life he would have with Daisy. Gatsby struggling with his own identity finds it hard to love anyone other than Daisy because he loved what she represented and has history with her. At the end of the book Gatsby does not end up with Daisy and is defeated. Sutton says, “With Gatsby now defeated, the final image in the sequence finds him in largely the same position as in the first image: physically apart from Daisy and searching for a light which he associates with her”. This love Daisy and Gatsby found soon decayed. We learn Gatsby’s love for Daisy is more about longing for a better life rather than the woman and Daisy realizes she truly loves Tom. This pursuit of love and happiness ended up in death of Gatsby.

Just like in The Great Gatsby, Gurov’s love for Anna in The Lady with the Dog started with dissatisfaction of his life. Gurov is not satisfied with his wife and therefore has affairs with women. This is common thread throughout The Great Gatsby and The Lady and the Dog, the theme of affairs and adultery. Both Gatsby and Gurov do not intend to fall in love but both women end up charming them. As the story goes on we see a change in Gurov. After he has met Anna he no longer commits casual affairs but is falling in love. Palmer says, “Both the story and the film are structured in four parts, each section presenting a different stage of the lovers’ attachment and charting the transformation of a casual adulterous affair into a desperate and deepening love”. Gurov matures and starts to feel the effects of deep love for someone. At the end of each story we see the men’s love for the women grow in to a deep longing love. Gurov at the beginning disrespected women and treated them as a lower race than men, he even calls Anna pathetic and boring. As the story goes on we see him develop strong feelings and memories of her that follow him like a shadow and haunt him. Chekhov states, “When he shut his eyes, he saw her as though she were living before him, and she seemed to him lovelier, younger, tenderer than she was; and he imagined himself finer than he had been in Yalta. In the evenings she peeped out at him from the bookcase, from the fireplace, from the corner — he heard her breathing, the caressing rustle of her dress. In the street he watched the women, looking for someone like her”. This feeling he is experiencing is not him being haunted but him falling in love with Anna and not being able to take her off his mind. Both Anna and Gurov now struggle with moral death as they start to have genuine love for each other and realize they are committing sin by acting on their feelings. We see them struggle through these emotions as they do not know what the next step is as they love each other like husband and wife even though they are both married.

Chekhov said, “He and Anna Sergeyevna loved one another as people who are very close and intimate, as husband and wife, as dear friends love one another. It seemed to them that fate had intended them for one another, and they could not understand why she should have a husband, and he a wife. They were like two migrating birds, the male and the female, who had been caught and put into separate cages. They forgave one another all that they were ashamed of in the past, in their present, and felt that this love of theirs had changed them both”. The story ends with Anna and Gurov starting their complicated journey of what to do next and how to live a life together not in secret.

In The Great Gatsby and the Lady with the Dog love is the outcome of dissatisfaction in life and the pursuit of something better. Gatsby re connects with Daisy finding love and wealth which she represented. Gurov finds Anna and he becomes a new man finding a deep love he did not have for his wife. The results of this love in these stories are corruption and ends up in moral and physical death.

Works Cited

  • Levitt, Paul Michael. “THE GREAT GATSBY and THE LADY WITH A DOG.” Explicator, vol. 70, no. 3, July 2012, pp. 157–160. 
  • Bunce, Selvi. “Love and Money: An Analysis of The Great Gatsby.” Language in India, vol. 15, no. 6, June 2015, p. 164.
  • Palmer, James. “Mastering Chekhov: Heifitz’s ‘The Lady with the Dog.’” Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 4, 1991, p. 252.
  • Sutton, Brian. “Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” Explicator, vol. 55, no. 2, Winter 1997, p. 94.
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott. The Great Gatsby. Penguin Books, 1950.
  • Chekhov, Anton. The Lady with the Dog. Anncona Media, 2015.

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