Short Summary of The Bear: summary "The Bear" by Anton Chekhov
Popova, a beautiful widow with dimpled cheeks, is mourning the death of her late husband. She seems to have been trying to crush the very basic human needs of herself while her servant, Luka, an old and practical man is trying to advise her:
"It isn't right, madam.... You're just destroying yourself."
While in a deep sentimental tone she rejects his advice:
"My life is already at an end. He is in his grave, and I have buried myself between four walls....We are both dead".
He says that she has not been going out. She has confined herself between the four walls of her house. He advises her to go about and get married because "you're young and beautiful, with roses in your cheek". She rebukes him saying:
"when Nicolai Mihailovich died, life lost all its meaning for me. I vowed never to the end of my days to cease to wear mourning".
She seems impractical and childish when she tells Luka that:
"I know it's no secret to you that he was often unfair to me, cruel, and... and even unfaithful, but I shall be true till death, and show him how I can love".
She wishes to prove her unfaithful husband that she is faithful to him after his death.
She looks at the picture of her husband and vows: "My love will die out with me, only when this poor heart will cease to beat." There is some guest and she refuses to meet. The guest is Smirnov a retired lieutenant from whom her late husband used to buy oats. He has come to seek his money which is due on her husband. She asks him to come the day after tomorrow as she does not have petty cash with her.
She refuses and he insists on having his amount of one thousand and two hundred roubles the same day. She asks him: "You'll have your money the day after to-morrow." But he would not listen: "I don't want the money the day after tomorrow, I want it to-day." She leaves the room and Smirnov expresses his anger in a soliloquy in which he goes onto say: "I'd rather sit on a barrel of gunpowder than talk to a woman."
Smirnov declares he won't leave the house unless she pays him. Popova comes agains asks him to leave and they argue again. She calls him:
"You're a rude, ill-bred man! Decent people don't talk to a woman like that!"
He says that he has had great number of love affairs in his life and knows women: "all women, great or little, are insincere, crooked, backbiters, envious, liars to the marrow of their bones, vain, trivial, merciless, unreasonable". He says that no woman is true in the world:
"You'll meet a cat with a horn or a white woodcock sooner than a constant woman!"
Popova counters him that men are not faithful either. She says that her husband was probably the best of men she knew and even he deceived her for other women though "I worshipped him as if I were a heathen". Here Smirnov accuses women of being sentimental and false. He blames her: "You may have buried yourself alive, but you haven't forgotten to powder your face! "
She gets infuriated and calls him and abuses him. Smirnov challenges her for a duel and she agrees to fight a duel with him. She goes away to take the pistols from inside her house. While she is away, Smirnov talks to himself: "She is a woman! That's the sort I can understand! A real woman! Not a sour-faced jellybag, but fire, gunpowder, a rocket!"
Popva come with the pistols and says in the utmost innocent manner: "Here are the pistols.... But before we fight you must show me how to fire. I've never held a pistol in my hands before." Smirnov teaches her how to fire a pistol but then he refuses to fight her. She asks him why and he says that he is in love with her. She says she hates him and asks him to go away. He stays there and begs her love: "I'm off my head, I'm in love like a boy, like a fool!" He offers her to marry him but she keeps on refusing. He pleads her love while on his knees and she asks him to go away. Suddenly Popova asks him to stop. Then the couple come near and Smirnov gives her a long kiss. The servants enter and see them kissing. Popova asks Luka: "tell them in the stables that Toby isn't to have any oats at all to-day".