In terms of complexity and skill, Chekhov’s more than 500 short tales are on par with the best novels written by other authors. He became the first to emphasize regular life rather than exaggerated drama. His fictional protagonists frequently become mired in routine and external conditions while exhibiting no personal goals. They were real individuals, and the time period loved it. Chekhov fixated on them with a detached observer’s gaze rather than passing judgment or condemnation on them. Here are 10 Greatest Short Stories of Anton Chekhov.
10 Greatest Short Stories of Anton Chekhov
A little incident takes place on the city’s market square when the goldsmith Khryukin’s finger gets bit by a dog, who then causes a scene. To resolve the situation, police inspector Ochumelov shows up. The inspector initially declares that the owner should be penalized and the animal put down. However, his viewpoint is altered when he discovers that the dog is a general’s pet. Khryukin is suddenly held accountable for inciting the animal.
A funny indictment of how people’s views can alter chameleon-like based on whom they are interacting with a high-ranking official or a nobody this is one of Chekhov’s earliest stories, which all pupils are required to read.
An honest and straightforward tale about loyalty. The name of dog who loses contact with his owner is Kashtanka. A circus clown who finds her dozing off on his doorstep takes her home, gives her a new name, and starts preparing her to work for him. She gathers there with the other circus animals and prepares for her debut performance.
But her performance wasn’t supposed to be a success. Kashtanka recognizes her former owners in the audience despite having a new name and a new life, and she rushes over to see them. A touching tale of enduring loyalty that will move and touch the reader.
This story makes one reflect deeply on the purpose of human life. Jacob, the primary character, is a coffin manufacturer who has always been completely frugal. He was never well off and didn’t pay attention to those around him. Even after his wife passes away, he doesn’t mourn her passing but rather reflects on the excellent and affordable coffin he built for her.
Later, after reflecting on his entire life, he is profoundly disappointed by how meaningless everything was. He pulls out his fiddle and plays a melancholy tune for Rothschild, an old foe. He pardons Jacob for his previous transgressions and recalls the song, which turns out to be the song that deeply moved people long after Jacob’s passing.
The Lady with the Little Dog
While on vacation in Yalta, Anna, an unhappy wife, and Dmitry, a bored parent and husband, cross paths. Together in their suffering, the two enjoy a holiday romance that, while it offered Anna a ray of hope, served only as an escape for Dmitry from his miserable circumstances. Anna thinks as a woman that she has sacrificed her dignity, but Dmitry is unable to understand her concerns and gives the situation little thought.
Dmitry quickly realizes what he has lost and how intense his affections for Anna were once they are split up and he returns to his routine life. The lesson of the tale is an easy one: love has the power to transform people.
Anna on the Neck
The story’s overarching theme is social inequity and how profoundly it may impact a person’s life. The main character, Anna, was born into a poor family, and as soon as she reaches marriageable age, her parents start seeking a husband. Anna makes a choice by wedding an old, ugly man in the hopes that he can support her family. Her expectations are quickly dashed as he treats Anna’s family badly, forbids her from handling money, and often reminds her of her origins.
Her status quickly changes as Anna gains popularity in Russia’s upper social circles and her life spirals into a flurry of parties and dancing. She is the one who becomes ashamed because her father is such a plain man and completely forgets about her family.
The term “darling” in the name of this story relates to Olenka, the protagonist, a devoted wife who finds fulfillment in looking after other people. She becomes actively involved with the lives of her first and then second husbands, picking up all of their professional terminologies, knowing every aspect of their jobs, and giving selflessly whenever she can.
She finds happiness again after going through a second divorce before her third love enlists in the military. Later, when he returns with his wife and child, Olenka nevertheless welcomes them into her home and devotes herself entirely to their son in the hopes that this time the object of her love and devotion won’t be snatched from her.
“The Student” is a short story by Russian writer Anton Chekhov, first published in 1894. The story is relatively brief but rich in thematic content, and it touches on issues of faith, despair, and the transformative power of storytelling and shared human experience.
The story centers around a young seminary student named Ivan Velikopolsky who is walking home on a cold evening. He is discouraged and cold, thinking about how people have suffered throughout history. The winter night and his own hardships lead him to contemplate the bleakness and suffering inherent in human life.
“The Student” is often analyzed for its commentary on the power of stories to inspire empathy and understanding. It reflects on the ways that cultural and religious narratives provide a framework for individual lives and collective experiences, offering not only solace but also a sense of connection that can transcend historical and social boundaries. Through the act of storytelling, the student experiences a revelation about the enduring nature of human suffering and the equally enduring capacity for faith and connection.
The Man in a Case
Belikov is a man who clings to the familiar like a shield, always wearing a coat and carrying an umbrella neatly encased—even in the warmest weather. His possessions, too, are all carefully contained in their own respective cases. He hides behind his collar as if trying to conceal his very existence from the world around him. Obsessed with order and tidiness, he lives his life almost as if he’s waiting for it to be neatly boxed up and put away. Ironically, it’s only in his coffin that he seems to find true comfort, his face finally relaxed in an expression that could almost be called contentment: “At last, they placed him in a case that he will never leave.”
Chekhov paints the portrait of an isolated soul, someone so wrapped up in his own insecurities and fears that he builds walls around himself, making him nearly invisible to others. Tragically, his life leaves such a faint imprint that his passing goes unnoticed, unmourned.
In Russian culture, Belikov’s lifestyle has given rise to the idiom “man in a case,” a phrase used disparagingly to describe individuals who limit themselves, shunning life’s uncertainties and opportunities for the dubious comfort of their self-imposed limitations.
Fat and Thin
At the train station, one skinny and the other fat of two long-time friends and their families meet. The two are delighted to see one another and catch up on recent events. It comes out that the overweight friend has attained a much higher standing inside the state service system when they begin to talk about careers.
The thin buddy abruptly alters and begins addressing his friend with various compliments while respectfully discussing his life and family in an effort to appear as humble as possible. The overweight friend eventually starts to feel uncomfortable and swiftly says farewell.
In this short story, a young peasant kid writes a letter to his grandfather, whom he hasn’t seen since they were children and whom he now wishes to see again. In the new home where he is kept as a servant, his life is quite challenging. He is thrashed by his owner and forced to perform laborious tasks; he stays up all night caring for the master’s child, getting little rest and little nourishment.
Many families and children who were treated like property and had no independence or rights lived in such conditions. Vanka feels relieved as he drifts off to sleep knowing that his grandfather will read the letter and pick him up, but the reader has yet to discover the plot twist that will result in the story’s terrible conclusion.