One finds such a wide variety of examples of this technique throughout the play that it becomes difficult to discuss them synthetically. Thus we will consider one example at length—the encounter between Yelena and Sonya at the end of Act II—as it is perhaps here in the play that the effects of indirect action are most obvious. In this scene, the two women share an emotional reconciliation that appears to come out of nowhere. Though they certainly have not been friendly to this point, we have had no intimation of their conflict. At the same time, their sudden reconciliation remains wholly feasible.

Because this conflict has been constructed indirectly, their encounter functions as an unsettling hysterical outburst. The hysteria continues with Sonya's ensuing inexplicable jubilation, and Yelena's impulse to play the piano. Thus the scene presents an explosion of affect—indeed, it is one of the few instances of joy in the play—separated from any clear cause or idea. This separation again refers back to the motif of estrangement as the characters are stricken with emotions that do not correspond with their situation.

The Pseudo-Climax

As discussed in the Context, Chekhov's late plays reject the classical Aristotelian plot line, in which rising and falling action frame an immediately recognizable climax and give way to a denouement. The play's pseudo- climax—a bungled murder in Act III—is perhaps the defining element in Uncle Vanya's rejection of the traditional plot.

In this scene, the audience takes part in all the trappings of a climatic turning point—a household meeting, a detailed explanation of how Sonya and Voynitsky have sacrificed their lives for the professor, a final confrontation between Voynitsky and Serebryakov, the sounds of off-stage violence, and so on. At the same time, Chekhov botches all the climax's elements. The "revelations" of this scene have already been rehearsed in Voynitsky's many laments—the audience does not learn anything particularly shocking. Along with going over old ground, the action of this climax ends in anti-climatic failure: Vanya farcically bungles Serebryakov's murder (recall the struggle with Yelena in the doorway and the missed shot at point blank range). The villain is not killed; no catharsis ensues; the act that would assume tragic proportions ends with a laugh.

A number of critics have interpreted this tragicomic scene according to Vanya's character and the theme of the wasted life. Being a lifelong, laughable failure, Vanya must botch his attempt at murder and end in bitter resignation. Unable to execute this final, potentially glorious act, Uncle Vanya is less the tragic hero than a broken man, a laughingstock. Serebryakov even denounces him as a "nonentity" in this scene, a man who has done nothing and will be quickly forgotten.