"The Bear" as a light comedy: "The-Bear" by Anton Chekhov



According to Oxford dictionary the chief purpose of comedy is "to amuse its audience by appealing to a sense of superiority over the characters depicted...Its ends will usually be happy for the leading characters". The Bear is a light comedy with no intentions of satirizing the characters. The play is to make fun of the basic mistakes that we all make. It is a comedy of the very nature of man to err and then to recoil on the same. We encounter two characters that seem to claim the supremacy of their sexes and blame the other. They claim to have apt knowledge for detesting each other. They never realize their folly that understanding comes rather too late. Both are coarse and unintentionally bear like in their actions and behavior. Both are trying to bottle up the very basic human emotions of love and family life but all their claims and slogans die with the overpowering of the basic emotions of love and emotional needs.

The play beings with Popova who is in mourning dress and is vowing to stay "between four walls "of her house. She is mourning over the death of her late husband who died six months ago. This is very grave indeed. But the comic element creeps in when she tells the story of her husband. She relates that her husband was never sincere to her; he was enjoying on her expense; and 'he used to leave her alone for weeks at a time'; and he 'made love to other women' before her very eyes. But she wants to show him how faithful she is. She decides to remain in mourning and meeting nobody.

There comes an intruder, Sminov, a strong middle aged man. He wants to see the lady to get his money back and does so. He claims to have lent some money to her late husband and now he wants it back. She refuses to pay it on account of her steward not being there. The man insists and the lady resists, It starts getting weary for the lady. The more she wants to get rid of the man the more he clings to her.

There starts real comedy. Having got a purpose, the couple enters into an argumentation. This leads to a quarrel; they both say silly things that amuse us. The lady counts the evils of men who prey on other ladies. She cites the example of her own late husband. Smirnov makes fun of the ladies. He calls them emotional and stupid. He states how they use their tender feelings as a "chef d auvre". He goes on to claim that

"" I'd rather sit on a barrel of gunpowder than talk to a woman."

He tries to convince the audience that he is not a silly boy nor he would be caught in a mousetrap. It all becomes funny when Smirnov starts liking Popova all at once. All his claims are gone now. He says:

"I love you as I've never loved before! I've refused twelve women, nine have refused me, but I never loved one of them as I love you".

Because just a moment ago, he was claiming his debt with full force insulting and humiliating her: he was showing what a real man is. We see the same real man begging her hand. We look at the same person letting his debt go. This emotional relationship of the events changes the course of the play several times and it makes us laugh. The play is nothing but comedy and emotional accompaniment.


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