Anton Chekhov’s Misery: To Whom Shall I Tell My Grief?

982 words - 4 pages

In Anton Chekhov’s, “’Misery: “To Whom Shall I Tell My Grief?”’, he tells the story of Iona Potapov, a sledge-driver in nineteenth century Russia. The character has lost his son; to an untimely death and he is having a difficult time coping with his lost. He is an elderly, nineteenth century cab driver and his wish is to find someone he can share his terrible grief with, by only sharing his sons’ life. Chekhov portrays the main character as lonely, dazed, confused, and as a man who needs someone to confide in; which all humans want and need during such hardships. In the midst of those times in Russia, Iona cannot find anyone willing to listen to him speak of his son; until he confides in the only thing that has been with him the entire time. The author portrays Iona as alienated and desperate for attention that it becomes obvious that he is stating that every person needs someone to help ease their pain when they suffer a loss.
The story is set in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1860, after the Great Reforms period; where they freed the serf farmers from virtual enslavement (Heller 2 ). Iona is a peasant, who migrated himself and his son,Kuzma, to St. Petersburg to find work. He was once among richer peasants; who he could go to for support and share his stress and anguish; but because of the Great reforms he fell down the social ladder, surrounding him with no social help or support. He has lost his wife already through death and his daughter is back in his old country; his son was the only thing he had closed to him. The story doesn’t talk about their relation but the author makes it clear that his son meant a lot to him.
As the story opens, it is obvious that Iona is in some type of anguish state as he sits outside, on the street in an awkward position. “He sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent” (Chekhov 94). He seems emotionally and mentally drained as described as so; this goes to show how some people can really look down upon others and make someone even heavier with anguish. He sits for hours until finally, he gets a fare; a military officer speaking towards the miserable looking man yells, “Sledge to Vyborgskaya!” Iona hears. “Sledge!” (Chekhov 95) .
Iona seems to be a terrible driver because he is causing the officer to ask him, “Where are you shoving, you devil?” (Chekhov 95) in a startling manner. He straightens up and tries to drive his sledge but he simply cannot maneuver it at the time. It seems as though Iona can not think properly and focus on the road because he wants to share his loss with the officer. And as he starts to tell the...

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