“Dowry” is one of Ostrovsky’s most significant plays of the last period – “The Dowryless Woman” (1878) – and in some respects recalls “The Storm”. But the differences, perhaps, are more than similarities. The composition of the new play is organized more strictly: all events – occurring within one day, are directly related to the story of the main character – Larissa.
The plot is tightly tied into one knot, there are almost no uncompressed characters. But it’s not just about form; no less significant are the substantive differences. If in the “Thunderstorm”, as the author specially emphasized, “all persons except Boris are dressed in Russian”, then in “Dowry” all the main characters
“In the” Dowryless “the clash between the cynical, antihumane philosophy of capitalist dealers and the” hot heart “of the heroine is most clearly manifested, trying to defend its human individuality and perishing in an unequal struggle with the inhuman world, in which money, profit and calculation reign.
Larissa is a beautiful, intelligent, proud, self-interested girl, endowed with spiritual sensitivity and responsiveness. Self-esteem does not allow her to put up with the environment. Larissa is opposed to all other actors. They pursue their own self-serving goals, only it is incapable of lying and deceiving. The heroine of the drama lives and expects extraordinary happiness, she reaches
Conflict in the play is built differently than in the “Thunderstorm.” There was no question of Katerina’s poverty as the basis of her tragedy. The fate of Larissa from the outset is predetermined by her poverty: it is like a stigma that can not be hidden, like a rock that unquestionably haunts a person. There is a collapse of faith in love (Paratov), friendship (Vozhevatov), family (Karandyshev).
In the plays of the last period, the socio-psychological characteristics of actors in Ostrovsky is complicated. So, unlike the Kabanikha and especially the Wild one, the characters surrounding Larissa in “The Dowry” do not at all look like direct villains, their characters are more complex, sometimes contradictory (such is, for example, Karandyshev, a kind of “little man”, with his complex social inferiority), they can be endowed with even attractive features, like Paratov, who in the eyes of Larisa is the ideal of a real man. But no matter how they differed from each other, for them all (not excluding even their own mother), Larissa is first and foremost a beautiful toy, a thing that can be bought or sold.
The image of Larissa was created by Ostrovsky according to the laws of realistic art. Noting the poetic sensitivity, the depth of the inner world, even the talent of her character, the playwright still does not idealize her. In Larisa, there is no simple, natural integrity of Katerina, on the contrary, one feels in her an early fatigue from life, some kind of emptiness, disappointment. The tragedy of human loneliness, the consciousness of general disunity, expressed the ideas and moods characteristic of the new historical era. (Soviet literary criticism has already drawn attention to the fact that in Groz, the action takes place against the backdrop of folk songs, and “in Bespridannitsa” there are no such songs anymore: they are replaced by a romance, a gypsy chorus that sounds even in the finale, at the time of the bloody denouement.)
The pernicious influence of the environment has already affected the heroine of “Bride”, poisoned her pure soul. The drama occurs not only around it, but also in itself. She ultimately recognizes herself as a thing and is ready to accept Knurov’s cynical proposal. That’s why the shot of Karandyshev Larissa takes as a relief from the shame that inevitably awaited her in the near future.
As in the “Thunderstorm”, and in “The Dowry”, much of the action takes place on the street, on the bank of the Volga. This enlarged the conflict, helped to perceive the tragic fate of the heroine on the broad background of Russian nature, symbolizing the aspiration for a different, bright, free life, to flight. Larissa in Greek means “seagull”. Hence – a direct path to Chekhov’s famous play. largely based on the dramatic finds Ostrovsky last period.