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A story settings is very important, it creates the mood and shapes a better understanding of the plot. For example, in the "The Lady with the Dog" by Anton Chekhov the reader very quickly feels involved in the story through detailed description and participates by empathizing with the main characters. Therefore, by choosing the right setting the author is able to suggest a reader how the character thinks, perceive feelings and emotions better, and be influenced by the essential moments and remember them well. All of these factors are present in "The Lady with the Dog".
Geographical setting is very important because it comes first, and introduces the reader where the plot takes place. Chekhov introduces us the details and qualities of the atmosphere in Yalta which describe the thoughts and the mood of Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna, Chekhov allows the surroundings to complete the character's mind-set. "Complete idleness, these kisses in broad daylight while he looked round in dread of some one's seeing them, the heat, the smell of the sea, and the continual passing to and from before him of idle, well-dressed, well-fed people, made a new man of him." (Chekhov, p. 222, par 51) These details also explain the reasons of behavior of the two lovers. Now it is easier to understand what pushed Gurov for such romantic relationship as we can relate to that feeling of being far away from all the problems and everyday life and being influenced by the light mood of the sea resort.
One more example is the description of depressive and problematic for Gurov return home. "At home in Moscow everything was in its winter routine." (Chekhov, p. 223, par. 61). Gurov is not happy about his family life; even through weather the reader is aware of the mood of the story. The next months pass for him differently than his expectations. "But more than a month passed, real winter had come, and everything was still clear in his memory as though he had parted with Anna Sergeyevna only the day before." (Chekhov, p. 224, par. 64) Gurov thinks his life will go on as usual and this short holiday romance will erase in his memory in a couple of months. However, this time it is different, he cannot forget Anna Sergeyevna at all. Time passes and although there is no description of what happened since the summer time the setting helps the reader follow the characters' struggle and loneliness.
Despite the geographical setting, what helps us understand what the protagonists feels, are the details that show Gurov in double life with his family and with his true love Anna Sergeyevna. It is easy to relate to his torn life. "When he listened to a song or the organ at the restaurant, or the storm howled in the chimney, suddenly everything would rise up in his memory: what had happened on the groyne, and the early morning with the mist on the mountains, and the steamer coming from Theodosia, and the kisses." (Chekhov, p. 224, par. 64) The double life creates a conflict within Gurov and we can relate and go through the difficulties together with protagonist as his life goes on.
Another and equally important fact is remembering the essential moments in the characters' life. For Gurov those memories are parting with Anna Sergeyevna and her image following him everywhere. He tries to share with somebody about his love, because these feeling are so strong. "Anna Sergeyevna did not visit him in dreams, but followed him about everywhere like a shadow and haunted him. When he shut his eyes he saw her as though she were living before him, and seemed to him lovelier, younger, tenderer than she was." (Chekhov, p.224, par. 64) Such descriptions make the reader go back and remember the beginning of the relationship like Gurov does. Cold Moscow and everyday life routine with unloved wife contrasts the sunny Yalta with Gurov's new, true love. All these techniques that are used by author involve reader to be a full of value participant.
The surroundings in any story provide a better understanding of the whole plot because through it the author has more tools to illustrate how the characters think and what they are feeling which results in not only brighter picture in reader's imagination, but also provides very memorable communication from the author to his audience.
Chekhov, Anton. "The Lady with the Dog." The Norton Introduction to Literature.
Eds. Alison Booth et al. Shorter 9th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.