Ivanov (play)

Ivanov (play)

Ivanov is a four-act play by Anton Chekhov first performed in 1887

Ivanov was originally commissioned by a Moscow theatre owner as comedy. Chekhov however responded with a dramatic four-act drama written in ten days. Although the first showing was a success, Chekhov himself was disgusted by it. In a letter to his brother, he wrote that he "did not recognise his first remarks as my own" and that the actors "do not know their parts and talk nonsense". Irritated by this failure, Chekhov made alterations to the play, and thus the final version is very different from that first showing. After this re-write, it was accepted to be performed in St. Petersburg in 1889, and this production was finally a success, an early forerunner of Chekhov's subsequent masterpieces. [cite journal|last=Billington|first=Michael|authorlink=Michael Billington (critic)|date=2008-09-18|title=Ivanov|journal=The Guardian|location=London|issue=50,397|pages=19|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2008/sep/18/theatre]

Dramatis Personae

"Nikolai Ivanov". A government official concerned with peasant affairs, Chekhov paints him as the quintessentially melancholy Russian from the upper social strata. Severely afflicted by internal conflicts; his loss of appetite for life, love of his wife, and external pressures; managing his estate and his debts, collide in a melodramatic climax.

"Anna". Née Sarah Abramson is Ivanov's wife of 5 years, suffering from Tuberculosis of which she is unaware. Renouncing her Jewish heritage, she converted to Russian Orthodox to marry Ivanov.

"Count Matthew Shabelsky". Ivanov's maternal uncle, a geriatric prankster.

"Paul Lebedev". Chairman of the rural district council. Confidant and good friend to Ivanov.

"Zinaida". Lebedev's wife, wealthly lender, to whom Ivanov owes a large sum of rubles.

"Sasha". The Lebedevs' 20 year old daughter. She was infatuated with Ivanov, ending in their almost marriage.

"Eugene Lvov". A young Doctor on the council's panel, and an honest man. Continues throughout the play, moralising and attacking Ivanov's character. He later resolves to reveal Ivanov's intentions.

"Martha Babakin". A young widow, estate-owner, and daughter of a rich businessman. She has a turbulent relationship with the Count.

"Dmitry Kosykh". An excise officer.

"Michael Borkin". A distant relative of Ivanov and manager of his estate. Somewhat of a jester, he comes out with many money-making schemes throughout the play - including his proposal for the Count and Martha Babakin to marry.


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 for avoiding his sick wife, instead spending time at Pavel Lyebedev's house. At the end of Act One, Ivanov departs to visit there, and is followed by Anna and Lvov.

Act Two shows a party at Lyebedev's, and features various people discussing Ivanov. They say his only motive for marrying Anna was for the large dowry, however when she married him, she converted from Judaism to Russian Orthodox and was disowned. Lyebedev is married to Saveshna, and they have a daughter, Sasha, who Ivanov seems to be flirting with. The act concludes with the two kissing, an act that is overseen by Anna who faints.

Act Three shows a number of conversations between Ivanov and other members of the cast, varying from talks with Lyebedev about money, to Lvov about the way he treats Anna. The scene ends with Anna bursting in upon Ivanov and Sasha, who are simply talking, resulting in Ivanov telling Anna she is dying, a fact she previously has not known.

The Final Act occurs a year after the previous one, Anna has died, and Ivanov and Sasha are preparing to marry. As the wedding is about to begin, Lvov appears, unveils Ivanov's supposed intentions, simply to marry Sasha for the dowry, and calls him a cad. Ivanov draws a gun, but Sasha intervenes. Ivanov walks off stage and shoots himself. The play ends.


External links

* [http://ilibrary.ru/text/964/index.html/ Full text of "Ivanov" in the original Russian]

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