Fiction Paper – “Misery” Essay
Have you ever lost someone you loved? Just think about how it makes you feel. I know that when my best friend died I was so miserable but I did not want to be by myself. I wanted to be around my family and my friends. I can remember talking with my friends and reminiscing about my friend. I felt so much better just talking about the situation. In Chekhov’s story “Misery” the main character Iona had a great loss in his life. His son had died, and he did not have anyone to talk to.
Iona than turned to his community looking for sympathy, but that is not what he found. Everyone he tried speaking to would just disrespect him. They would cut him off; they only seemed to be concerned with themselves. Which is sad because your community is so post to be your backbone. However, in Iona’s community he has no one to support or comfort him. At the end of the story Iona is so desperate to talk to someone that he tells his horse about his son’s death. It is disappointing to see how our society reacts towards each other.
Considering, we have all lost a loved one and we know how it feels. You would think that our society would be a little more sympatric and would not want to have a human resulting in talking to a horse. The first person that Iona tried speaking to was a military officer. Once Iona had worked up enough courage to tell the military officer about his loss the officer seemed to be interested. Than instantly, the officer was yelling at Iona for the way he was driving the sledge. The military officer did not seem to care about the death of Iona’s son.
Several times he looks round at the officer, but the latter keeps his eyes shut and is apparently disinclined to listen” (241). The job of a military officer is to serve and protect his community. However, the officer does not seem to be doing his job, he is to worried about when he was going to get where he was going. Maybe the officer does not have any sympathy towards Iona because he is a military officer and he has seen people die. However, this is a little different than being at war and watching the guy next to you die.
This was Iona’s son, his pride, and joy and now it’s all gone and he does not even know why he died. The military officer should have been sympatric towards Iona, it was obvious that Iona was hurt and wanted someone to talk to. At the end of the ride Iona collects the fare. The officer regrets to even say sorry to hear about your son. Iona’s son has been dead almost a week and he had yet to speak to anyone about it. Iona just wanted someone, anyone to listen. “He wants to talk of it properly, with deliberation…
He wants to tell how his son was taken ill, how he suffered, what he said before he died, how he died… He wants to describe the funeral, and how he went to the hospital to get his son’s clothes” (243). When Chekhov said that Iona wanted to talk of it properly I think he met that Iona wanted to express his feelings. Talk about the death in a complete conversation, not just blurting out that his son had died. As Iona was drowning himself in his sorrows he got another chance to speak of his son’s death. He took three men on a sledge ride. One of the men was a hunchback.
I think that Iona had considered the fact that the hunchback was a loner because he got the shaft and had to stand on the sledge ride. Therefore, Iona once again blurted out that his son was dead. “This week… er… my… er… son died! ” (242). Hoping that the hunchback would have some sympathy towards him. Maybe Iona thought that because growing up, as a hunchback could be lonely he figured that the hunchback would see his loss and sorrow. However, the hunchback did not. He responded with “we shall all die… Come, drive on! Drive on! ” (242).
No that he had dropped the men off the sorrow began to set in again. “If Iona’s heart were to burst and his misery to flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but yet is not seen. He has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight… “(243). What Chekhov is saying is that Iona has built up so much sadness in his heart and he has to hide it because he has no one to talk to. If he were to ever break down and start crying he would cry enough to flood the world because he is so sad and has kept it inside for so long.
Thought out “Misery” there is an over all theme which is, human vs. beast. Iona who is obviously the human, and his horse is the beast. However, Iona and the horse are treated the same. Iona was treated no better than a beast. This is because of he social class in society. He is a depressed cabs man who takes people on sledge rides for fares that are unreasonable; they are so small that he cannot afford to feed himself or his horse. In our society today people seem to think if they have a better job or live on the rich side of town that then should not have to be bothered with the less fortunate.
However, we are all human beings and we all have feelings, we all know how to feel pain. And as human beings we need to be there for each other. Chekhov proves that in this society it seems to be everyman for himself. In Terry Eagleton’s book entitled Marxism and Literary Criticism he states. “The social relations between men, in other words, are bound up with the way they produce their material life. Certain ‘productive forces’ – say, the organization of labor in the middle ages – involve the social relations of villein to lord we know as feudalism.
At a later stage, the development of new modes of productive organization is based on a changed set of social relations – this time between the capitalist class who owns those means of production, and the proletarian class whose labor-power the capitalist buys for profit. ” (4-5) Basically, what Terry Eagleton and Chekhov are saying is the same thing, that someone always thinks that they are better than someone else and that nobody really understands anyone else. Since no one wanted to hear what Iona had to say, this resulted in him talking to his horse about the death of his son.
This is sad because he ends up pouring his heart out to this horse. Iona does seem happy telling the horse about the death but it usually feels better if you have some who can understand you and give you advice. He seemed to express himself more clearly to the horse than he did the officer and the three other men. I think he found it easier to talk to the horse because the horse was like his other companion now that his son was gone. Another reason why he may have been so at ease telling the horse is because he really just wanted someone to listen to him and the horse did just that.
In conclusion, “Misery” was basically about a lonely man looking for someone to open up to about his tragic loss. However, it is sad to see how humans treat one another at a time in need. Sadly enough, Iona had waited a week and still could not find anyone to listen to him. Image having your child or even parent die and not having anyone to comfort you for a week. Unfortunately, Iona’s community was not there to support him but at least his horse was. Talking to the horse made him feel better anyways.