Literary Analysis Essay of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Looking Glass’

Literary Analysis Essay of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Looking Glass’

‘Looking Glass’ is one of Anton Chekhov’s short stories. The story revolves around the dream of Natalie and how it continues to frighten and scare her because of her inability to find solution to the problem and the sense of helplessness created. Written using simple language, Chekhov is able to advance his objective through the use of tone and imagery. In particular, the use of dark tone and vivid imagery enables readers to recognize valuable themes shaping the story and highlight the true significance of the looking glass.

Upon close reading, one of the themes that can be surmised from the text is how Chekhov advances the significance of dreams. Using Nellie’s dream, Chekhov is able to emphasize important points that is happening both to the protagonist and symbolically to readers in general. It portrays the internal conflict that is happening to the protagonist and how she finds it challenging to relate these difficulties to other people (Stepan Lukitch). Chekhov use of simple language enables readers to understand the depiction of intense scenes happening to Nellie (Graham 1). By carefully delineating the dreams to readers, Chekhov is able to portray how dreams continue to influence the decisions and responses of people. Also, the use of dreams as a theme enables the text to promote other important areas for readers to analyze.

The reality of helplessness also resonates in this particular piece. Specifically, Chekhov enables readers to contextualize the reality that sometimes people are unable to find solutions to their problems and the same can be seen with others. The depiction of Nellie and her inability to address the issues she has demonstrates that reality. By careful usage of tone and imagery, Chekhov is able to advance the struggles of a woman who is unable to respond to the situation she is in, despite being a dream (Balasubramainan 579). The state of helplessness can be seen both internally and through Nellie’s interaction with Dr. Lukitch.

The fear of the future is also relevant in helping appreciate this piece of Chekhov. From how the story is depicted, the author enables readers to recognize how dreams reflect the subconscious. From this standpoint, the dark dream that surrounds the story show how Nellie feels about the future. For instance, Chekhov’s use of the lines “the grey background was untouched by death” (1) enables readers to identify the scenarios the protagonist is subjected to. Also, the uncertainty of what can happen is manifested and particularly shows why she is terrified and anxious about the dream as it unfolds.

Chekhov use of symbolism is also evident in his different short stories. For this piece, the looking glass or mirror remains to be significant because it portrays the future. From how the author depicts the character, the use of mirror remains to be instrumental because it serves as a window to her subconscious. Here, Chekhov uses this object to portray Nellie’s inner feelings, her fears and the manner she continues to feel helplessness. Through the use of looking glass, the story becomes successful in bringing together its goals and objectives to readers.

Overall, ‘The Looking Glass’ is one valuable story by Anton Chekhov because of its portrayal of dreams and how it remains to be significant in helping understand human condition. By dwelling into the consciousness of Nellie, readers are able to see situations that put her in a delicate position and state of helplessness. By effective use of dark tone and rich imagery, the author is able to connect points that indicate the human condition and how problematic situations illustrate man’s fear of uncertainty and the unknown.

Works Cited

Balasubramainan, Radha. ‘Understanding Chekhov. A Critical Study of Chekhov’s Prose and Drama by Donald Rayfield’ Canadian Slavonic Papers, 42.4(December 2000): 578-580. Accessed 11 August 2014.

Chekhov, Anton. The Looking Glass, 1885. Web. Accessed 11 August 2014. 

Graham, Ann. ‘Anton Chekhov, ‘The Looking Glass’’, Short Stories of All Time, 27 Sept. 2013.  Web. Accessed 11 August 2014.