“Duel” Chekhov in brief

In a small town on the Black Sea coast, two friends are talking during a bath. Ivan Andreevich Laevsky, a young man of about twenty-eight, shares the secrets of his personal life with the military doctor Samoilenko. Two years ago he got along with a married woman, they fled from Petersburg to the Caucasus, telling themselves that they will begin a new working life there. But the town turned out to be boring, people are not interesting, Laevsky could not work and work on the ground with the sweat of his brow, and therefore from the first day he felt bankrupt. In his relations with Nadezhda Fyodorovna, he no longer sees anything but lies, to live with her now above his strength. He dreams of running back north. But you can not disperse with her: she has no relatives, no money, she does not know how to work. There is another difficulty: the news of the death of her husband came, which means for Laevsky and Nadezhda Feodorovna the opportunity to get married.

Everything that Nadezhda

Feodorovna says and makes seems to Laevsky to be a lie or like a lie. At breakfast, he barely restrains his irritation, even the way she swallows milk, causes him heavy hatred. The desire to quickly find out the relationship and run away now does not let go of it. Laevsky has got used to find explanations and justifications of his life in someone’s theories, in literary types, he compares himself with Onegin and Pechorin, with Anna Karenina, and Hamlet. He is ready to blame himself for lack of a guiding idea, to recognize himself as a loser and superfluous man, he is justified before himself. But as before he believed in salvation from the emptiness of life in the Caucasus, so now he thinks that he should abandon Nadezhda Fyodorovna and go to Petersburg, how he will begin to live a cultured, intelligent, vigorous life.

Samoylenko keeps a sort of table d’hote, he has a young zoologist von Koren and just graduated from the Victory Seminary. At dinner, conversation begins about Laevsky. Von Koren says that Laevsky is as dangerous to society as a cholera microbe. He corrupts the inhabitants of the town

by openly living with a strange wife, drinking and soldering others, playing cards, multiplying debts, doing nothing and, in addition, justifying himself with fashionable theories about heredity, degeneration and so on. If such as he, multiply, to mankind, civilization is seriously threatened. Therefore, Laevsky, for his own good, should be rendered harmless. “In the name of saving humanity, we must take care of the destruction of the frail and useless,” the zoologist says coldly.

The laughing deacon laughs, and Samoilenko, stunned, can only say: “If people are drowning and hanging people, then to hell with your civilization, to hell with humanity!” To hell with it! “

On Sunday morning, Nadezhda Feodorovna goes to bathe in the most festive mood. She likes herself, I’m sure that all men who meet meet her. She feels guilty before Laevsky. For these two years she has made debts in the shop of Achmyanov Rubles for three hundred and all is not going to say about it. In addition, twice already she hosted a police officer, Kirillin. But Nadezhda Fyodorovna joyfully thinks that her soul has not participated in her betrayal, she continues to love Laevsky, and everything is already torn with Kirilin. In the bath she talks with the elderly lady Marya Konstantinovna Bityugova and finds out that in the evening the local society organizes a picnic on the bank of a mountain stream. On the way to the picnic, von Koren tells the deacon about his plans to go on an expedition along the coast of the Pacific and Arctic oceans; Laevsky, traveling in another stroller, scolds the Caucasian landscapes. He constantly feels a dislike for himself von Koren and regrets that he went on a picnic. The mountain dukhan of the Tartar Kerbalaya company stops.

Nadezhda Fedorovna in a playful mood, she wants to laugh, tease, flirt. But the persecution of Kirillin and the advice of the young Achmianov to beware of that overshadow her joy. Laevsky, tired of picnic and unconcealed von Koren hatred, disrupts his irritation on Nadezhda Feodorovna and calls her a coquette. On the way back Von Koren admits Samoilenko that his hand would not flinch, instruct him to destroy the state or society Laevsky.

At home, after a picnic, Laevsky informs Nadezhda Feodorovna about the death of her husband and, feeling at home as in prison, leaves for Samoylenko. He begs his friend to help, loan three hundred rubles, promises to arrange everything with Nadezhda Fedorovna, make up with her mother. Samoylenko proposes to make peace with von Koren, but Laevsky says that this is impossible. Maybe he would have extended his hand, but von Koren would have turned away with contempt. After all, this nature is firm, despotic. And his ideals are despotic. People for him are puppies and insignificance, too small to be the goal of his life. He works, goes on an expedition, turns his neck there not in the name of love to his neighbor, but in the name of such abstractions as mankind, future generations, the ideal breed of people… He would order to shoot anyone who goes beyond the circle of our narrow conservative morality, and all this in the name of improving the human race… Despots have always been illusionists. With enthusiasm, Laevsky says that he clearly sees his shortcomings and is conscious of them. This will help him to resurrect and become a different person, and he is passionately waiting for this revival and renewal.

Three days after the picnic, Nadezhda Feodorovna comes excited Marya Konstantinovna and offers her to be her matchmaker. But the wedding with Laevsky, feels Nadezhda Feodorovna, is now impossible. She can not tell Marya Konstantinovna of everything: how her relationship with Kirilin, with the young Achmianov, has become entangled. From all experiences she starts a strong fever.

Laevsky feels guilty before Nadezhda Fedorovna. But thoughts of leaving on the next Saturday so mastered him that Samoilenko, who came to see the sick, he asks only about whether he could get money. But there is no money yet. Samoilenko decides to ask a hundred rubles from von Koren. He, after a dispute, agrees to give money for Laevsky, but only on the condition that he will leave not alone, but together with Nadezhda Fedorovna.

The next day, on Thursday, visiting Marya Konstantinovna, Samoilenko tells Laevsky about the condition put by von Koren. Guests, including von Koren, play in the post office. Laevsky, mechanically participating in the game, thinks about how much he has and still has to lie, what a mountain of lies prevents him from starting a new life. To skip it at once, and not lie in parts, you need to decide on some steep measure, but he feels that it is impossible for him. A malicious note sent, apparently by von Koren, causes a hysterical fit. Coming to, in the evening, as usual, he goes to play cards.

On the way from the guests to the house, Nadezhda Feodorovna is pursued by Kirillin. He threatens her with a scandal if she does not give him a date today. Nadezhda Feodorovna, he is disgusting, she begs to let her go, but in the end concedes. Behind them, unnoticed, is the young Achmianov.

The next day, Laevsky goes to Samoilenko to take money from him, since staying in the city after a tantrum is embarrassing and impossible. He only gets von Koren. There should be a short talk; Laevsky understands that he knows about his plans. He acutely feels that the zoologist hates him, despises and mocks him and that he is his most bitter and irreconcilable enemy. When Samoylenko comes, Laevsky in a nervous fit accuses him that he does not know how to keep other people’s secrets, and insults von Koren. Von Koren seemed to be waiting for this attack, he calls Laevsky to a duel. Samoilenko unsuccessfully tries to reconcile them.

On the eve of the duel Laevsky first possesses hatred for von Koren, then, with wine and cards, he becomes careless, then he becomes restless. When young Achmianov leads him to a house and there he sees Kirilin, and next to him Nadezhda Feodorovna, all the senses seem to disappear from his soul.

Von Koren this evening on the embankment talking with the deacon on the different understanding of the teachings of Christ. What should love be about your neighbor? In eliminating everything that somehow harms people and threatens them with danger in the present or the future, the zoologist considers. The danger to mankind threatens from the side of morally and physically abnormal, and they should be rendered harmless, that is, destroyed. But where are the criteria for distinguishing, because errors are possible? the deacon asks. Do not be afraid to get your feet wet when a flood threatens, the zoologist answers.

Laevsky, the night before the duel, listens to the thunderstorm outside the window, sorts out his past, sees in him only lies, feels guilty in the fall of Nadezhda Fyodorovna and is ready to beg her for forgiveness. If it were possible to return the past, he would have found God and justice, but it is just as impossible as a rolled-up star to return again to heaven. Before going to a duel, he goes to the bedroom to Nadezhda Feodorovna. She looks at Laevsky with horror, but he, embracing her, realizes that this unhappy, vicious woman is his only close, dear and irreplaceable person for him. Sitting in a stroller, he wants to return home alive.

The deacon, coming out early in the morning to see the duel, ponders why Laevsky and von Koren can hate each other and fight in a duel? Would it not be better for them to go lower and direct hatred and anger to where whole streets are buzzing with groanings of gross ignorance, greed, reproaches, uncleanness… Sitting in a strip of corn, he sees the opponents and seconds arrive. Two green rays stretch out from behind the mountains, the sun rises. Nobody knows the rules of the duel, remember the descriptions of duels from Lermontov, from Turgenev… Laevsky shoots first; afraid, as if the bullet did not hit the von Koren, makes a shot into the air. Von Koren directs the muzzle of the pistol directly into the face of Laevsky. “He will kill him!” – The desperate cry of the deacon makes that miss.

Three months pass. On the day of his departure for the expedition von Koren, accompanied by Samoilenko and the deacon, goes to the pier. Passing past Laevsky’s house, they speak about the change that has taken place with him. He married Nadezhda Feodorovna, works from morning till night to pay off debts… Having decided to enter the house, von Koren stretches out his hand to Laevsky. He did not change his convictions, but admits that he made a mistake about his former adversary. Nobody knows the real truth, he says. Yes, no one knows the truth, agrees Laevsky.

He watches as the boat with von Koren overcomes the waves, and thinks: so in life… In search of truth, people take two steps forward, step back… And who knows? Perhaps they will reach the real truth…

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“Duel” Chekhov in brief