Q:

Who are the characters in Anton Chekhov's "The Brute"?

A:

Chekhov's play "The Brute," also called "The Bear," is a one-act comedy that features three principal characters: Elena Ivanovna Popova, Grigory Stepanovitch Smirnov and Luka. "The Brute" is one of several of Chekhov's comedies referred to as "farce-vaudevilles."

This farce begins with a servant, Luka, comforting his mistress, Popova, who is in mourning for the death of her husband. She has sworn never to love another man to show her deceased husband the meaning of faithfulness, who had been unfaithful to her in life. Smirnov, who later reveals himself to be a misogynist, arrives at her door demanding to be repaid for money owed him by her husband. Popova and Smirnov become engaged in an argument about propriety and the character of women that dissolves into him challenging her to a duel, which, to his surprise, she accepts. He sees her in a new light, confesses his new found admiration and love for her, and eventually she succumbs to his advances before Luka returns to break up their fight.

Chekhov dedicated the play to Nikolai Solovstov, whose boorish performance in the French vaudeville "Les Jurons de Cadillac" partly inspired him to write it. Solovstov even went on to play the role of Smirnov in "The Brute."


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