Uncle Vanya

by: Anton Chekhov

Symbols

Main ideas Symbols

Uncle Vanya does not rely heavily on symbols though one could, however, identify a number of the objects on stage as symbolic. The chickens from Act I, for example, might represent the idly chattering members of the household. We cannot forget Astrov's "colossal" and "asinine" moustache, which materializes (right under his nose, so to speak) his heavy sense of alienation from himself. One might also recall Voynitsky's bouquet of autumn roses from Act III, a peace offering he intends to give Yelena until he sees her in Astrov's arms. These "lovely" and "sad" roses that do not reach their destination readily represent Voynitsky's hopeless love. Finally, one might consider the map of Africa, bizarrely on the wall of Voynitsky's bedroom/office. Clearly out of place—as indicated by the stage notes—this image of a land far away from the Russian provinces perhaps symbolizes what Voynitsky's yearns for, that which might have been, but has been irretrievably, lost in his wasting his life.