Discuss the character of Smirnov in "The Bear" by Anton Chekhov
Smirnov is a middle aged retired artillery man of strong built. He is a man of decent income and respectable social status. He has been referred to as the "bear" in this play. This is because of his great physical strength e.g. he presses on the back of a chair and the chair "creaks and breaks". He is referred to as a bear for being indecent and rigorously aggressive behavior. Though he claims to have tamed his basic instincts of love, yet he falls for the same basic emotions of humankind that are spontaneous and natural.
Primarily, Smirnov runs into an economic trouble and needs money desperately. He calls on all her debtors to recover his own money but none of them pays. Smrirnov reaches the house of Popova to claim his money which her late husband owed on account of buying the oats. But Popova refuses to pay him because her steward is out of town. This annoys Smirnov and he argues for his money. He even abuses and irritates Popova to get his money but to no avail. She doesn't pay. They even reach the extent of fighting with pistols.
Though Smirnov does claim: " I'd rather sit on a barrel of gunpowder than talk to a woman" but deep down somewhere he is willing for more than talk with this woman. He happens to like her. But he continues fighting with her. He later realizes his liking for the lady:
"She is a woman! That's the sort I can understand! A real woman! Not a sour-faced jellybag, but fire, gunpowder, a rocket!"
He proposes her in a very funny and amusing manner: "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".