What different roles do Chekhov's female characters play—are they primarily a background feature or a strong presence within his tales? How does the author use women to question gender relationships within society?

Is it fair to say that Chekhov's older characters are either repositories of cultural wisdom or doddery fools who cling to an outdated social order? How does the author refute or uphold preconceptions about the role of the elderly within society?

It has been said that Chekhov avoids adopting a strongly moral or even obvious authorial tone. How does the author's use of third-person narration and his ambivalent treatment of his characters suggest his impartiality?

Chekhov's stories are comic and tragic, seemingly light-hearted yet also deeply profound. Does humor distract us from the characters' suffering or make their experiences seem more real?