It’s simple; everyone wants to find love, their soul mate. The short story, “The Lady with the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov, describes the trials and tribulations people put themselves through to find true love. The two main characters, Gurov and Anna, are trapped in loveless marriages, secretly searching for something more. Anna lives during a time in Russia where women are submissive to men, “soul mates” were chosen by perspective parents, and divorce was not an option. Her lover, Gurov, describes her as timid, naive, and urgently passionate; but it is ultimately her provoking inexperience that leads them to fall in love with each other.
Anna portrays a young, innocent woman who lacks confidence, respect, and love. She is faced with what she believes to be the ultimate betrayal – adulterous affairs of the heart; however, Anna is on the quest to find true love, just like everyone else. When Gurov and Anna first indulge in their feelings for each other, Anna feels “…a sense of embarrassment…”(207). She had not explored feelings of this magnitude before, and acted as a teenager with their first love. Anna lacks confidence in herself as a lover to know how Gurov feels about her, and is “troubled now by jealousy and now by the fear… . (209) This is surprising to Gurov, who had never dealt with a woman as inexperienced as Anna before; he did not expect her to react in such a way. He had only known women who were seeking pleasure, rather than intimacy and passion. As she becomes more aware of herself as a woman, her lack of self-confidence is evident when she becomes to think of herself as a “vile, vulgar woman whom anyone may despise. ” (208) Anna’s expectations of men are directly related to how her husband treats her. “My husband may be a good, honest man, but he is a flunkey! Her husband does not treat her with the respect she deserves, nor does he shower her with adoring devotion. She feels as though Gurov, a typical man, will not respect her enough to love her. After the affair, she says “You don’t respect me now… ” (208), conveying to Gurov that she expects him to feel for her in the same way her husband does. She does not know how to receive the love a man, because she does not receive those feelings from her marriage. When Anna and Gurov were together, “… she was often pensive and continually pressed him to confess that he did not respect her, did not love her in the least. (209) She had never felt such deep emotion before, so Anna became inconsolable at the thought of losing the respect of the man she now loved. Anna blames herself for the sad life she lives. Anna had not known of love, as her marriage was arranged when she was only twenty. She tells Gurov “I was tormented by curiosity; I wanted something better. ” (208) Not having any other lovers before her husband, she yearned for more intimacy, someone who could provide her the passion she sought. She loses herself in the whirlwind of emotions, and finds affection from another man.
With her lack of experience with men and relationships, she truly believes she has completed the ultimate sin by having an adulterous affair. She wants to prove to Gurov that she was indeed a good woman, and he could love her. She says to Gurov “I beg you…I love honesty and purity, and sin is loathsome to me…” (208). When it was time for her to leave, she parts with him at the train station, and says to Gurov “Don’t remember evil against me. ” (209) She wanted nothing more than his love. The story, “The Lady with the Pet Dog” is one of a young desperate woman seeking love, and defying all obstacles.
Anna had a husband of her own, but she never knew of true compassion, devotion, or love. Anna ultimately feels guilty for her adulterous affair and she cannot justify her feelings to anyone because she was wrong to find solace in another man. She shares her deepest thoughts and feelings, only to Gurov, without shame. She finds in Gurov the love and devotion she sought her whole life, and cannot fathom why this man was not intended for her to spend her life with. In the end, Anna longs for nothing but Gurov and his undying love for her.