Personality Profile: Mrs. Popov in The Brute by Anton Chekhov
In The Brute, Anton Chekhov scripts a relatively short, one-act play which features two prominent and distinct main characters. Chekhov himself was born in 1860 in Russia to a lower-middle class family. At age sixteen, he was literally abandoned by his family, an event which would shape the course of his life and writings in the years to come. Chekhov’s outlandish stories are generally classified as farces, which are defined as light, dramatic works in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect (Dictionary.com/Farce). The Brute is thus typical of Chekhov’s work. Written in 1888, it was originally
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Mr. Smirnov was Mr. Popov’s source of oats, and when he died he was left owing Mr. Smirnov twelve hundred rubles. He had come to collect on the money, for debtors were coming for him tomorrow and he needed it to survive. After repeatedly forgetting his name, Mrs. Popov explains that has every intention to pay on her husband’s debts, but she cannot due so until two days from now, when her steward comes back from town. Here, Mrs. Popov’s isolation is further confirmed, as we learn that she does not even venture out on the town for trivial matters. Mr. Smirnov is puzzled as to why he cannot have his money today if Mrs. Popov has it. After launching into a long, articulated speech concerning his hatred for women, Mrs. Popov’s demeanor begins to change. Her forced hatred of men propels her to go head to head with Mr. Smirnov, matching his intensity for disgust of the opposite sex. Both exemplify many stereotypes regarding men and women, respectively. Mr. Smirnov is loud, argumentative, and unwilling to compromise. He is easy to raise his voice and refuses to try and understand Mrs. Popov’s situation. Mrs. Popov refuses to fully acknowledge Mr. Popov, as she is still trying to isolate herself and put up an aloof front.
Things begin to change when Mr. Smirnov gets Mrs. Popov to start opening up to him and talking of her previous experiences with men. After Mr. Smirnov finishes his speech regarding his loves and loves lost, he is able to get Mrs. Popov to open up to