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Anton Chekhov's Symbolic Use Of Setting In A Story Without A Title

1198 words - 5 pages

The allegorical tale by Anton Chekhov of human nature “A Story without a Title” means to convey how setting does little or nothing to change our most basic human desires, that we have an urge to accumulate wealth, live in the moment and pleasure our bodies, with little regard to our souls. He uses setting to deliver his message using setting such as time, place and society.
A Possible symbolic setting of the story is made in the first sentence of the story “In the fifth century, just as now”. We now know that they lived a long time ago and that might suggest that he wants to show parallels of characteristics between contemporary readers and the characters set in the fifth century plot. The fact that Chekhov writes “Just as now” goes to further show parallels between back then and now. This suggests that Chekhov speaks to a timeless theme.
The city and the monastery exist as two different entities with no way of knowing how the other operates. This is enforced by the large distance between the two and the barren land that separates them. “To reach the monastery from it, meant a journey of over seventy miles across the desert.” “It” being the city. To further underline: “Only men who despised life, who had renounced it, and who came to the monastery as to the grave, ventured to cross the desert.” This is meant to symbolize that the monastery and the city are completely independent of one another. Any idea or theory of how the city is, is determined purely by the imagination of the monks in the monastery. The same goes for the inhabitants of the city and what they know of the monastery. The physical setting of the story therefore shows a separation between city and monastery and city. There is then a symbolic separation between the city and the monastery. Two entities that survive entirely independent of one another. The one thing they have in common is that people inhabit them.
As for the monastery itself, it is a physical location where the entire story takes place, in two parts. First the actual physical dimension which it involves and later the scenario in which the Father Superior explains to the monks how his travels to the city were which takes place in the imagination of each individual monk but which, again, is limited by what the monks know how to imagine.
The physical setting of the story, the monastery, is described in the text as being peaceful and tranquil. The scenery is described as living with its own pulse “In the morning, when the first rays kissed the dew, the earth revived, the air was filled with the sounds of rapture and hope; while in the evening the same earth subsided into silence and plunged into gloomy darkness” all this goes to build a feeling of continuity, knowing that this rising and setting of the sun has always happened and will always continue to happen. The absence of sufficient outside stimulation, however, would from time to time leave the monks bored and unsatisfied which is explicitly mentioned “It sometimes...

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