About Love - Summary | The Heritage of Words

Anton Chekhov

About Love - Summary | The Heritage of Words

About Love

“About Love “presents three-dimensional love stories. The first love is of Nikanor and Palegeya, second is of Alyohin and a Russian girl, and the third Alyohin and a married women Anna. The Love of Luganovich and Anna is one of the third parts. These three stories are the representatives of the three categories of love.

The first story is an example of a violent love story. The main character- Nikanor- was a drunkard, and interestingly religious minded. In due course of his stay in Alyolin’s house, he fell in love with Palegeya. He instated that Palageya married him. Sometimes he used to beat her in his intoxicated state to prevent herself from her husband. She used to hide under the bed of Alyohin. Second love-story is the materialistic love. The lady is concerned with the money only. Every time Alyohin held her in his arm, she used to ask for a months allowance. The third story, which is the main story, is the unexpressed love. It presents a sequence of events in the life of Alyohin and his attraction towards Anna.

According to the story, Alyohin was a student and his father was a farmer. Therefore, his father spent the amount needed for his study at university. Because of it, he was in debt. To pay debt Alyohin had no options but to return to his farm and labored hard. However, his desire to live civilized life continued and to fulfill it, he stayed up stairs, read a book, and drank liquor but it did not last long. One night a priest came and drank the whole of his liquor. From that day onwards he started living downstairs and slept on the sledge (small hut).

Before he was here, he was appointed as an honorary judge in town. During his period, he came in contact with a Luganovich, who surprisingly invited Alyohin for dinner in his home. When they were having dinner, he got an opportunity to see Anna. From the very first sight, he started to like her. He found her beautiful, impressive and elegant. Hence, his first meeting with the lady reminded an unforgettable event. It was spring when he met her. In the summer, he was on his farm, but the memory of the lady remained. He desired very much to meet, but could not meet until autumn. In autumn, he went to the town where he met with Anna. She showed her worry about Alyohin and expressed wonder at his condition. After the show was over, he went to Anna house, talked with her husband, but returned back as usual without confessing his love for her.

After it, he kept on going to her house in his every visit to his town. At Anna’s house, he was welcomed cordially and regarded as the noble fellow. When he met her, she played piano with him, talked for hours, but their mind remained unexpressed. The Luganoviches sometimes requested him not to hesitate in asking for any kind of help. He also did not hesitate in doing so. In return, he brought gifts from the village.

Days passed in the same ways; neither had they expressed love. But he started appearing in the behavior of Anna. She behaved in mocking (smiling) way with Alyohin-at his fault she appreciated him. At last, Anna had to go to another place for her mental treatment. When it was the time for Anna’s departure, Alyohin entered into the apartment of Anna. There their eyes met which resulted in kissing one another, and expressing their love. However, their reunion did not result in their marriage. Alyohin got down in the next station, and thereafter they did not meet.

This story has a frame. In the beginning, the sky is grey and the trees are drenched. The environment is gloomy. At the end, when the Alyohin unloads his heart about love, the shining sun appears, after the rainfall. Alyohin tells this story in between this frame to his two guests: Burkin and Ivan.

Important Questions :

1. What kinds of love experiences are suggested by Alyohin in “About Love”?
Ans. In “About Love”, three kinds of love experiences are suggested by Alyohin. The first one is the love affair between Nikanor and Pelageya. Their love is sensual, often violent. Though there is no understanding between them, sexual passion binds them. Their love is not bound by marital relation. The second love affair is between Alyohin and a girl when he was studying at the university. Though Alyohin loved her, she thought love as a way to earn money. This love affair can be seen as the ugliest where sex is exchanged with money. The third love affair between Alyohin and Anna Alexeyevna can be termed as unexpressed love or spiritual love. Their heart meets, but being trapped by middle-class morality, their love remains unexpressed. They sacrifice their love for more good. Alyohin sacrifices his love because he thinks that it would bring disaster in the life of her children, mother and husband. Similarly, Alexeyevna does not express her love thinking that she wasn’t young enough to live with him.

2. Sketch the Character of Alyohin.
Ans. Alyohin, a bachelor and a university graduate, lived in Sofinyo working labourously in his farm. He had to work on his farm to pay the debt that his father had spent on his education. He desired a civilized living of the upper class but could not afford it. In the past, while he was a university student, he fell in love with a girl who only loved his money. Since he was elected honorary justice of the peace, he often visited the town to take part in assizes and sessions. Once he was invited to the home of Luganovich to dine. There he met Anna Alexeyevna, aged 22 and married to Luganovich. They fell in love with each other but could not express their love. They chatted for hours, went to the theatre together but they parted coldly the next time. Later Anna suffered from nervous prostration and was sent to Crimea for treatment. During her departure, Alyohin had the courage to confess his love and kissed her, but had to part with her forever.

Alyohin’s vision of love is shaped by his own love affair. He thinks that when people are in love, they ask whether it is honorable or dishonorable, sensible or stupid, and what their love will lead to. For him, this reasoning is the source of dissatisfaction and irritation. He thinks that love is a great mystery. When one is in love, one should start love from higher, without reasoning whether their love is sin or virtue, or whether it brings happiness or unhappiness. According to him to what extent personal happiness counts in love is uncertain, it differs from person to person.

Alyohin is like a squirrel in a cage. He is trapped by reason, middle-class morality, and poverty. He is a man-of-thought. He fears to express his love for Anna because he is too much thinking about society’s moral standards. He sacrifices his love thinking that his marriage to Anna Alexeyevna would ruin the lives of her, her children, her mother, and her husband. He fears that he could not make her happy in his country house.

3. Sketch the Character of Anna Alexeyevna.
Ans. Anna Alexeyevna is the main female character in the story “About Love”. She is a beautiful and charming young lady aged twenty-two. She is married to Luganovich, assistant president of the circuit court and aged over forty. Her marriage to an old man can be seen as the cause of her suffering. Her sexual urge cannot be fulfilled by the man double her age. So, she tries to get emotional fulfillment from Alyohin which later turns into love. She is also trapped in reason. She does not confess her love to Alyohin though she deeply loves him because she fears society’s moral standards. She also thought that she was not young and energetic enough for him to begin a new married life. Later she becomes the victim of nervous prostration because of psychological depression and nervousness.

Question for Practice :

  1. Why did Alyohin and Anna Alexeyevna conceal their love to each other?
  2. Explain, “Love is different in each situation”.
  3. Explain, “Love isn’t confined by the marital relationship”.

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