Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 7, 2024
February 29, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
The Black Monk;
In the Ravine;
Lady with the Dog;
My Life (The Story of a Provincial);
On Official Duty (On Official Business); The Night Before Easter (On Easter Eve); Steppe; and Ward No. six
Author Anton Chekhov
Type of work Fiction
Genre Short story
Language Russian (first translated into English in 1903); makes use of regional dialects and class accents
Time and place written Between 1886 and 1901 in Moscow and Yalta, Russia,
Date of first publication Stories published in various journals and periodicals from 1886 onward; first published in English in 1903
Publisher Literary journals such as the "New Times"
Narrators Mostly third-person narration, but Chekhov occasionally uses self-referential narration (e.g. in Agafya,
The Night Before Easter, and Ward No. six)
Climaxes There are dramatic climaxes in Chekhov's stories, but the author tends to focus on the minor details and commonalities of people's lives. Mostly these climaxes involve moments when characters question their own morality, and they occur toward the middle of tales. For example, Olga in The Grasshopper and Dr. Ragin in Ward No. six both experience moments of revelation when they realize that they have deluded themselves about the way things really are. Sometimes climaxes occur at the end of stories—as in The Black Monk, where Kovrin hallucinates while hemorrhaging to death—but this happens less often than you would expect. For the most part, Chekhov plays on our expectations and leaves us guessing about how things will work out—obvious examples being The Lady with the Dog,
The Darling, and Steppe.
Protagonists Chekhov's protagonists traverse the social spectrum of Russian society: they can be young or old, male or female, sane or insane, landowners or peasants. He uses a depressive physician in Ward No. six (Dr. Rabin); an artistic lunatic in The Black Monk (Kovrin); and a homesick nine year-old in Steppe (Yegorushka). To contrast, there is a social outcast in My Life (Misail); a miserly, conceited landowner in In the Ravine (Grigori Tsybukin); a man who protests against conceited landowners in Gooseberries (Ivan); and a dissatisfied young bureaucrat in On Official Duty (Lyzhin). Chekhov's female characters are just as diverse: he uses a foolish but affectionate widow in The Darling (Olga); a disaffected young wife in Lady with the Dog; and a social butterfly in The Grasshopper (Olga). There are also two anonymous narrators, both of whom seem to be members of the gentry, in Agafya and The Night Before Easter.
Setting (time) Late 19th century Imperial Russia
Setting (place) Set mostly in anonymous provincial towns and the Russian countryside
Points of view The author rarely adopts an authorial voice and prefers to switch between the perspectives of his characters, which can be flighty, serious, depressed, manic or innocently childlike
Falling action Often, the tales end anti-climactically or Chekhov leaves us to guess what will happen next. The Lady with the Dog and Steppe conclude suddenly, forcing readers to imagine what the likely outcome to events will be
Tense Immediate past, although the present tense is briefly used in the opening to Ward No. six
Tone Chekhov mixes pathos with humor to evoke an ironic yet sensitive authorial tone.
Themes Death and disease; disillusionment and failed ideals; the breakdown of aristocratic society
Motifs Communication and non-communication; the natural world
Symbols The night sky; food and drink
Foreshadowing There is some use of foreshadowing in Chekhov's tales, although readers are mostly given clues to guess at what might happen next. However, some examples include Dr. Ragin's conversations with Gromov in Ward No. six, which foreshadow the doctor's later incarceration in the asylum, and Kovrin's visions of "the black monk," which prefigure his final descent into lunacy.