Skip to Main Content

Literature: Uncle Vanya

About the book

Every family has its problems; sibling rivalry, political differences, different favorite sports teams. However, very few could match the tangled, oppressive, and manipulative family problems of Uncle Vanya.

In the play, Professor Serebryakov lives in the city, while his rural estate is run by family. One of the estate managers is Uncle Vanya, his brother-in-law from his first marriage; the professor's new wife Yelena is much younger and very attractive. When they visit their estate both Vanya and the local doctor fall hard for Yelena. Sonya, the professor's daughter from his first marriage, is also helping to run the estate, and seeing her stepmother's beauty and charm reminds her how unattractive she herself is and how unrequited her adoration for the doctor is, especially with Yelena on the scene.

The professor shows little affection for his family who have been running the estate and he announces plans to sell it off. Tensions overflow and, in a fit of rage, Vanya attempts to shoot his brother-in-law, but fails.

The professor and Yelena agree to keep the estate and let everything go on as normal. All will continue as it has for years, ultimately. The play closes with the family going about their tasks, and Vanya complaining about how they must work so hard to support others and how little they have and how joyless life is for them. Sonya reminds him that they will rest when they die and receive rewards in heaven.

 

Taken from https://study.com/academy/lesson/uncle-vanya-by-chekhov-summary-characters.html#:~:text=Uncle%20Vanya%20is%20a%20play%20by%20Anton%20Chekhov%20based%20on,their%20lifestyle%20in%20the%20city.

Themes to Explore

  • Impossible love
  • Wasted life
  • Tragic comedy

About the author

     Read about Anton Chekov here                                                                              

Books in the Library...and online

Teaching resources

Audio and Video