“The Proposal” (One act play)


“The Proposal” (One act play)

Anton Chekhov

1. Character of Natalya

Answer:  In his one act play ‘The Proposal’ Anton Chekhov satirises the concept of marriage of upper class through the representation of leading female comic character, Natalya. She was the young unmarried girl of 25 years. She lived in the neighbourhood of Lomov, a young unmarried man. Natalya was an excellent housekeeper and was not bad looking. She was thirsting for love. Her father called her ‘love sick cat’. She is quarrelsome and abusive by nature. She began a bitter quarrel with Lomov over a piece of land that had little value. She said that those meadows were not much worth to her but she could not stand unfairness. But when she learnt that Lomov had come to propose to her, she forgot all fairness and unfairness. She began to wail over the last chance and forced her father to call him back. But as soon as Lomov returned she started quarrelling with him again over the superiority of their hunting dogs. She readily prepared herself to spend her life with her hypochondria, insomniac, unstable husband because she was well educated, beautiful and an excellent house keeper.

2. Narrate a brief sketch of social life as you see in the play “The Proposal”. Or

What light does the play “The Proposal” show on the social scenario of Chekhov’s time in Russia?

Answer: Anton Chekhov gives a vivid description of the upper middle class Russian society in the nineteenth century in his one act play ‘The Proposal’. The society that Chekhov presents was despairingly materialistic one. That society did not pay any heed to personal desires, emotions and love. That society used to consider property as the essential criteria for a marriage. Marriage which is supposed to be a ‘union of two minds’ was basically a business deal for them – a tool for social status and economic stability. The father would consider his daughter a liability. This attitude is still prevalent in our society. Presenting the example of Lomov and Chubukov’s family, Chekhov shows how that land owning class used to enjoy their life by possessing wealth and hunting dogs. Most people like Chubukov cultivated hypocrisy. They would call a person ‘darling’ and at once would turn him out.

3. Discuss the reasons why the marriage proposal is important to all the characters?

Answer: All the characters judge the marriage proposal from the respective view point of convenience and gain. Reaching the critical age of marriage, Lomov becomes desperate for a wife to satisfy his practical necessity and maintain social status. Chubukov considered his daughter Natalya a burden and wants her to get married soon. So Cubhukov becomes jubilant when he hears Lomov’s proposal. Natalya herself realises that Lomov has a huge property and through marriage she will not only inherent her father’s property but also own the disputed meadows. Hence when she learns about the marriage proposal, she is immediately interested and wants Lomov come back. Lomov considers the fact that the marriage will result in doubling his own property if Natalya is his bride. In Anton Chekhov’s society marriage is not a union of two minds; rather a conventional business deal where both sides have to earn profit. Thus the marriage proposal was important to all for separate reasons.

4. Character of Chubukov/sensitive father.

Answer: In his one act play ‘The Proposal’ Anton Chekhov satirises the concept of marriage of upper class through the representation of the comic character, Chubukov. Chubukov is an old land owner and a shrewd businessman who tries to protect his property and aristocracy. He thinks his daughter a liability and wants her to get married soon. When Lomov asked his daughter’s hand, he becomes jubilant. But Chubukov goes to abuse and insult Lomov only to satisfy his angry daughter who makes Lomov almost insane with her silly arguments. Throughout the play he seems to be a helpless father to a dominant daughter. When Lomov comes round and starts quarrelling again over the hunting dogs, he plays a trick on them to get them married. Like a sensible father Chubukov pushes his daughter to Lomov for the best interest regarding his daughters and property. He is cunning enough to suppress his anger and agony to get his daughter married to Lomov. He is projected as loving father but a greedy man who is looking for a good match for his daughter.

5. Title.

Answer: Anton Chekhov’s one-act play. “The Proposal” centres round the marriage proposal of the 35 year-old landowner, Lomov to 25 year-old Natalya. Ivan Vassilevitgh Lomov goes to Chubukov’s house with the proposal of marrying his daughter Natalya. Reaching the critical age of marriage Lomov is desperate to get marriage soon. So Lomov’s intention for marrying his daughter makes Chubukov Jubliant. However before disclosing his proposal to Natalya, Lomov becomes entangled in two long arguments with her, first over their hunting dogs. That’s why; Natalya has not got any proposal from Lomov. At last, Chubukov directs Lomov to marry his daughter. The drama ends with the proposal of marriage getting fruitful. Thus the proposal is successfully complemented by the marriage. Hence the title of the play “The Proposal” is apt and significant.

6. Describe the character of Lomov. Or     Why does Lomov decide to end his bachelor life? Or

Why does Lomov decide to marry? Why does he choose Natalya?

Answer: In his one act play ‘The Proposal’ Anton Chekov satirises the concept of marriage of upper class through the representation of the comic character, Lomov. He is a typically feudal landowner who looks marriage a system of social status and economic stability devoid of any emotional connection. Reaching the critical age of 35, Lomov wants to marry Natalya only to satisfy his practical necessity and maintain his social status. In his soliloquy he expresses his high level of nervousness as well as a number of physical ailments that have recently plunged his life. He is egoistic and stubborn over the trifling issues of oxen meadows’ possession and the hunting dogs. He reveals the fact that he does not love Natalya and chooses her because she is educated, not bad to look at and an excellent housekeeper. While quarrelling he abuses Natalya and her father. But he immediately prepares himself to marry her for doubling his property. As he is not healthy and fit enough he wants to be settled with Natalya who will take care of him as well as his property. To him marriage is more a business deal than a love match.  

7. Do you find the play “The Proposal” funny? Support your answer with illustration from the text.

Answer: Anton Chekhov’s one act play “The Proposal” is undoubtedly funny. It is out rightly humorous. The real fun of the play lies in the absurdities of all the three characters and their actions. The verbal fights between Natalya and Lomov over Oxen Meadows are really full of fun. The formal dress of Lomov, his strange reason behind his decision to marry, his obsession with illness and his extreme arguments instead of persuasive proposal make him a funny fellow. Natalya’s argument like Chubukov’s and Lomov’s about which dog is better creates funny situation. Chubukov’s over excitement, his arguments for the hunting dog, squeezer and his sudden suggestion on “hurry up and get married” are no less funny. At last Natalya marries Lomov and says, “I ‘m happy too”. Thus the three characters fill the play with funny episodes.

1. Anton Chekhov is by nationality-Russian 2. Anton Chekhov was born in 1860 3. Natalya is the daughter of Chubukov 4. Natalya’s age is 25 5. Chubukov is a landowner 6. Chubukov things that Lomov has come to him to borrow money. 7. Lomov had actually gone there to ask for Natalya’s hand. 8. Chubukov agreed in the marriage joyfully. 9. Oxen Meadows is between Birchwoods and Burnt Marshy. 10. The free use of oxen Meadows in perpetuity was given by Ivan’s aunt’s grandmother. 11. The free use of oxen Meadows in perpetuity was given to the peasants of Natalya’s father’s grandfather. 12. The peasants belonging to Natalya’s father’s grandfather had the free use of the the Meadows for forty years. 13. The Meadows is about five dessiations. 14. Five desiations actually means 13.5 acres. 15. The name of Lomov’s dog is Guess. 16. Natalya’s dog is squeezer. 17. Lomov’s dog had gone lame. 18. Squeezer is the son of Harness and Chisels.19. ‘The Proposal’ is a farce. 20. Lomov came to Chubukov’s house in formal dress. 21. When Natalya first meets Lomov she at first asks him to take lunch. 22. Natalya said that in his dress Lomov was looking better. 23. Natalya claims that the Oxen Meadows were in their possession for three hundred years. 24. Desiations is a a measurement of land. 25. One desiation is equal to 2.7 acres. 26. For landing the threshing machine to Lomov’s Natalya’s family had to put off their own threshing till November. 27. Lomov’s younger aunt was Natalya Mihailovna. 28. Lomov for his dog gave Mironov 125 roubles. 29. Chubukov for his dog gave 85 roubles. 30. According to Chubukov, Lomov’s dog Guess has two defects (old and short in muzzle). 31. Lomov goes to Chubukov’s house in Formal dress. 32. The action of the drama takes place in Chubukov’s country house, somewhere in Russia. 33. Chubukov thinks that Lomov is dead. He blames himself for the death and wants to commit suicide.  

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