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The Chrysanthemums' and 'The Lady with The Pet Dog' as The Key to a Happy Marriage

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 “The View” is an American talk show aired on ABC. It discusses current sociopolitical issues alongside interviews with prominent people. Hosting John Steinbeck and Anton Chekhov on an episode of heart and love gives the audience a comprehensive understanding of love. John Steinbeck is the author of “The Chrysanthemums” which is based on the life of Eliza who feels enclosed and trapped by life. Anton Chekhov is the author of “The Lady with the Pet Dog” which features Gurov and Anna with emotional freedom to feel love towards each other. The two are in an excellent position to offer a satisfying solution to the man who is unhappy with his marriage and feels lost amidst his love for his wife. The two authors address their feelings on love through stories of ordinary life that give insight into human behavior, with the characters wearing recognizable social masks that do not reflect their day to day reality. They also express their feelings through the tones used in the stories and the vast use of symbolism.

The tone of “The Chrysanthemums” is one of confinement and oppression. Steinbeck’s description of Elisa and her husband’s homestead portrays Elisa as lonely and confined emotionally and physically. The home is at a distance from other houses and isolated with a fence enclosing it. The surrounding is under a low-lying fog, and her husband is a realist who doesn’t appreciate the appealing beauty of things in life. She yearns to see her husband understand her undying need for emotional closeness. Tinker’s visit reminds her of her pain of isolation and expresses the beauty in traveling to different places and meeting new people. The tone in ‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’ is sorrow and desire. Gurov and Anna are entirely in love and tries to find ways to live together away from their loveless marriages. Gurov meets Anna and develops an emotional and physical relationship with her. He is entangled in love to the point of spying on her and Anna also finds herself yearning for his love, as evidenced by the scene where he reflects on her as slim, delicate throat and her lovely grey eyes. A move that leads to their occasional meetings and the decision to live together despite the attributed consequences.

John Steinbeck uniquely uses symbolism to represent Elisa’s frustrations and hidden passions. The symbol chrysanthemums exemplify Elisa. Chrysanthemums are beautiful flowers that are portrayed to have any other use apart from their decorative purpose. They are unblooming and confined to a small environment with no way to escape. They show Elisa’s limitation to perform specific tasks and oppression with no way of liberating herself to self-independent state. Tinker’s casual abandonment of the flowers by roadside signifies negligence, where she is viewed as a source of income only. She attempts to engage Tinker at a spiritual and intellectual level, but he despises her. He receives money from her and departs forgetting her just like the chrysanthemum buds by the roadside. The unblooming flowers also symbolize Elisa’s childlessness.

The interaction between tinker’s dog and Elisa’s dogs is symbolic. It brings out the relationship between Elisa and Tinker. Elisa dogs are strong depicting her as robust, smart and wittier compared to Tinker. She shows her wit by revealing her capability to do Tinker’s repair job. However, she pays him for a job she could have done herself the same way her dogs abandoned Tinker’s mongrel and continues to allow Tinker to extort her. Elisa’s dressing code is symbolic. Elisa is dressed in a heavy gardening outfit that makes her look blocked and heavy. It shows the oppression she endures because of her position and gender in life. She removes her clothes on Tinker’s arrival as a revelation of the growing sense of self-independence and the quest for freedom from the potent forces. She dresses carefully in her feminine outfit doing her hair and makeup nicely. It symbolizes her awakening sense of power and sexuality.

Anton Chekhov symbolizes a mirror. Gurov sees his reflection in the mirror after deciding to end the relationship with Anna. He changes his view, realizes his identity and understands how meaningful his relationship is. It is evidenced where the writer says after looking at the mirror he realizes that his hair had turned grey. It depresses him and regrets how he had lived his past few years. His pretty look had vanished and wonders why Anna loves him. He sees how women had loved him for different reasons instead of what he was. They saw the kind of man they had longed for all their lives. Later, they recognize they had made a mistake but still held onto him despite his ungrateful attitude of not loving them back. The mirror signifies self-understanding of how he had lived his life, how he treated Anna like a casual seduction and the realization that he was in love with Anna. The long gray fence around Anna’s house symbolizes the confinement in her unhappy marriage.

It clear from “The Chrysanthemum” that marriage comes with a limitation. The boundaries tend to suppress the woman. Elisa is seen operating in a confined environment away from the rest of the world. The house she lives in with Henry is enclosed with red geraniums as high as the windows. The garden is fenced; she only watches men come and go. Despite her realization for self-independent and freedom from all these oppression she chooses to remain in the loneliness and childless marriage. In ‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’ Chekhov brings out love as men controlled and people to get married due to various reasons such as pressure from parents without the existence of love between them. Marriages of this form bring hatred and oppression of one party just as seen in Anna’s marriage that was lonely leading to her search for love outside the marriage. Additionally, he brings out the need to remain faithful to marriage as evidenced where he regret engaging in an affair that compromises his morality and humanity.

The two authors show similarities in expressing their feelings of love. The two bring out love as the key to a happy marriage. People should not get married due to societal pressures but the love that exist amidst them. It also presents love as the key to treating women with equality and respect while appreciating their selfless efforts. In response to the man’s situation, the man should evaluate himself and come up with a clear realization of whether he loves his wife and the main reason why he got into the marriage, was it due to external pressures or the love they had for each other. The realization will give him a clear understanding of the main problem affecting their marriage, after identifying the reason for his unhappiness he can open up to his wife and address the issue together. 

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The Chrysanthemums’ and ‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’ as the Key to a Happy Marriage. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
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