Chekhov Stories

Characters

Olga Plemyannikov

Characters Olga Plemyannikov

Olga is the protagonist of The Darling. Despite being attractive, kind- hearted, and eager to help other people, she is the embodiment of female disempowerment. Because she cannot make up her mind on any issue, Olga adopts her partner's beliefs and thus subordinates her will to the male intellect. Undeniably, the protagonist gains a measure of happiness with her two husbands—the theater-owner Kukin and the timber-merchant Pustovalov—but only because she tailors her outlook on life to accord with their own. The protagonist's nickname is both deeply ironic and pathetic: she is everyone's "darling" and is indulged like a favored pet. Chekhov thus crafts our ambivalent response to his protagonist, who appears both annoying and pitiful. We find that Olga does not evolve within the tale, she only becomes lonelier and more desperate for male affection. Because she cannot turn to her old lover Smirnin for emotional fulfillment, the protagonist focuses all her attention on his little son Sasha. She parrots the schoolboy's opinions and embarrasses her new charge by walking him to school. Readers see that, for all her swiftness at winning other people's affection, Olga will never earn their respect. She remains imprisoned by her own laziness and lack of intellectual autonomy.