A. P. Chekhov
Chamber No. 6
In the county town in a small hospital wing there is a room number 6 for the mentally ill. It “smells of sour cabbage, wick fumes, bugs and ammonia, and this stench makes you feel at first like you are entering a menagerie.” There are five people in the ward. The first is “a thin bourgeois with a gleaming red mustache and tear-stained eyes.” He, apparently, is sick with tuberculosis and all the day long he sighs and sighs. The second is Moseska, a merry little fool, “crazy about twenty years ago, when his shoemaking shop burned out.” He alone is allowed to leave the ward and go to the city to fight, but all that he brings is taken away by the watchman Nikita (he is one of those people who adore order in everything, and therefore mercilessly beats the sick). Moseika loves to serve everyone. In this he imitates the third inhabitant, the only “noble” – the former bailiff Ivan Dmitrievich Gromov. He is from the family of a well-to-do civil servant, who, from a certain moment, began to pursue misfortune. At first the oldest son, Sergei, died. Then he himself was put on trial for forgery and embezzlement and soon died in a prison hospital. Younger son Ivan stayed with his mother without funds. He learned with difficulty and got a job. But suddenly he was sick with a persecution mania and got to room number 6. The fourth inhabitant is “fat, almost round man with a stupid, completely meaningless face”. It seems that he has lost the ability to think and feel; he does not react, even when Nikita beats him brutally. The fifth and last inhabitant is “a thin blond with a kind but somewhat crafty face.” He has a megalomania, but a strange property.
After describing the patients, the author introduces us to Dr. Andrey Efimych Ragin. In his early youth, he dreamed of being a priest, but his father, a doctor of medicine and a surgeon, forced him to become a medic. His appearance is “heavy, rough, peasant”, but his manners are soft, insinuating, and his voice is thin. When he took office, the “God-pleasing institution” was in a terrible state. Terrible poverty, unsanitary conditions. Ragin was indifferent to this. He is an intelligent and honest man, but he does not have the will and faith in his right to change life for the better. At first he worked very hard, but soon got bored and realized that in such conditions it was senseless to treat patients. “And why should people stop dying if death is the normal and legal end of everyone?” From these arguments, Ragin abandoned business and began to go to the hospital not every day. He developed his own way of life. After a bit of work, more for a look, he goes home and reads. Every half an hour he drinks a glass of vodka and snacks with a pickled cucumber or a soaked apple. Then he dines and drinks beer. By the evening, usually comes postmaster Michael Averyanovich, a former wealthy but ruined landowner. He respects the doctor, and despises other people. The doctor and the postmaster conduct meaningless conversations and complain about fate. When the guest...
Once, Ragin decided to visit room number 6. There he meets with Gromov, talks with him and soon gets involved in these conversations, often visits Gromov and finds in conversation with him a strange pleasure. They are arguing. The doctor takes the position of the Greek Stoics and preaches contempt for life’s suffering, and Gromov dreams of ending suffering, calls the philosophy of the doctor laziness and “sleepy fool.” Nevertheless, they are drawn to each other, and this does not go unnoticed for the rest. Soon the hospital begins to gossip about the doctor’s visits. Then he is invited to explain to the city government. This is also because he has a competitor, assistant Yevgeny Fedorovich Khobotov, an envious man who dreams of taking the place of Ragin. Formally, the conversation is about the improvement of the hospital, but in fact, officials are trying to find out, whether the doctor has gone out of his mind. Ragin understands this and is angry.
On the same day, the postmaster invites him to go to Moscow, Petersburg and Warsaw together, and Ragin realizes that this is also connected with rumors of his mental illness. Finally, he is directly offered to “rest”, that is, to resign. He accepts this indifferently and goes with Mikhail Averyanich to Moscow. On the way the postmaster bored him with his conversations, greed, gluttony; he loses Ragin’s money in the cards, and they return home without reaching Warsaw.
At home, everyone again starts to pester Ragin with his imaginary madness. At last he can not stand it and drives out of his apartment Hobotov and postmaster. He becomes ashamed, and he goes to apologize to the postmaster. He persuades the doctor to go to the hospital. In the end, he is put there in a cunning way: Khobotov invites him to Chamber No. 6 allegedly at a consultation, then goes out ostensibly behind a stethoscope and does not return. The doctor becomes “sick.” First he tries to somehow get out of the room, Nikita does not let him in, he and Gromov start a riot, and Nikita beats Ragin in the face. The doctor understands that he will never leave the ward. This puts him in a state of complete hopelessness, and soon he dies from an apoplexy. At the funeral were only Mikhail Averyanovich and Daryushka, his former servant.