The protagonist of The Lady with the Dog. Gurov is an aging, dissatisfied bureaucrat who surprises himself by falling in love with Anna. Through Gurov, Chekhov examines ideas about world-weariness and an individual's quest for self-understanding.
Gurov's lover. Like the protagonist, Anna has grown dissatisfied with her provincial lifestyle. Initially the epitome of gentrified morality—she worries that Gurov will not respect her if they become lovers—Anna soon realizes that she would sacrifice everything to be with her lover.
The protagonist of In the Ravine. Grigori is an archetypal bourgeoisie, who rides in a chaise while assuring beggars that God will help them. We see how ironic the reversals of fate can be when Grigori is later disregarded by his own family.
The protagonist of On Official Duty who waits to conduct an inquest in a remote village. Lyzhin is ambitious and hopes to use his office to gain prestige within Moscow society. Nevertheless, this young professional is still perturbed by other people's suffering and hardship. This contrasts him with his brusque and self-interested partner, Dr. Starchenko.
A physician who accompanies Lyzhin to conduct the inquest. Starchenko is older than his partner and is far more concerned with his own comfort. Chekhov uses the doctor to represent successful professionals who have no social conscience.
The mentally imbalanced yet highly educated protagonist of The Black Monk. Before he dies of consumption, Kovrin hallucinates and believes that he is one of God's elect. Chekhov uses Kovrin's illness to blur the boundaries between artistic genius and self-delusion.
Jerome rows the anonymous narrator of The Night Before Easter across the Goltva river. The ferryman is preternaturally sensitive to words and music, and appears as a kind of mystical apparition out of the darkness.
The flighty, snobbish yet endearingly vivacious protagonist of The Grasshopper. Olga is a tragic character, who searches for genius among all her friends before realizing that her husband was the most remarkable man she knew.
Read an in-depth analysis of Olga Dymov.
Olga Dymov's husband seems bland and uninteresting but is in reality blessed with an astonishing intellect. Osip's quiet genius contrasts with the overrated and flamboyant talents of Olga's friends.
The protagonist of The Darling. Chekhov uses Olga to attack the philosophy that women should adopt men's ideas and beliefs instead of forming their own opinions.
The elderly protagonist of Gooseberries. Ivan rails against complacent landowners, but also berates himself for being happy. Chekhov contrasts Ivan's furious self-questioning with the gentry's smug superiority.
Ivan's friend and owner of a large country estate where the protagonist shelters from a storm. Aliokhin typifies the successful Russian landowner—he is wealthy, contented and even has a beautiful servant-girl—who listens with friendly bemusement to Ivan's sermonizing.
The free-spirited protagonist of Agafya. Savka is lazy, jealous of his privacy, and misogynistic, yet women seem to love him. The author thus examines the powerful allure Savka exerts over his lovers—such as the peasant girl Agafya—as a man without responsibilities or restraint.
The gentleman protagonist of My Life who is cast out from society after deciding to work as a laborer. Misail never tires of his endeavors despite the setbacks he encounters, because he accepts that no one can avoid suffering.
Masha is intrigued by Misail's dreams but grows disillusioned with the reality of a simple life. Chekhov suggests that Masha is inspired by new philosophies and ideas, which do not really accord with her fundamental self-centeredness.
The protagonist of Ward No. 6. Rabin is a stoic and a recluse who does not believe in the reality of suffering. However, the doctor changes his philosophy when he is admitted to the hospital's lunatic asylum. Chekhov uses this plot development to emphasize fate's unpredictability and the injustices committed under the state's aegis.
An inmate of ward no. six who condemns Rabin for his "rationalization" of suffering. Gromov represents the radical element of Russian society in that he refuses to condone injustice.
The nine-year-old protagonist of Steppe. Chekhov records Yegorushka's adventures as though every event is being witnessed by the sharp but innocent eyes of a child. This throws the actions of the adult characters and the vastness of the steppe landscape into sharper relief.