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The Three Sisters

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Fatma Faiez

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of The Three Sisters

Background information
The Three Sisters

Background Information
A Russian play written by Anton Chekhov in 1900
First performed at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1901
Inspired by the play
The Three Bronte Sisters
Unlike other plays, this one contains only four Acts
The play surrounds the lives of the three Prozorova sisters:
Olga
Marya {Masha}
Irina
The story takes place in a provincial garrison town in Russia
It describes the lives and aspirations of the Prozorova family
They are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence.
The sisters are cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow; however for the past eleven years they have been living in a provincial town.
The sisters begin facing hardships when Natasha, their new sister in-law, slowly starts to take control
More struggles comes upon the sisters when their brother Andrei mortgages the house without giving them their shares
Several more dilemmas approach the sisters {Masha's affair, Natasha's affair, & Andrei's failure in life}
The Characters
Olga Prozorova
The eldest of the sisters
The matriarchal figure of the Prozorova family
28 years old in Act I
Teacher at a high school {later becomes headmistress}
A spinster who wishes she was married
Plays a motherly role to the elderly
Maria {Masha} Kulygin
The middle sister
21 years old in Act I
Married to Kulygin when she was just 18 years old
Disappointed in her marriage
Has an affair with lieutenant-colonel Vershinin but returns to her husband {who had forgiven her} shortly
Irina Prozorova
The youngest sister
20 years old in Act I
Desires to go back to Moscow
Believes she will find her true love in Moscow
Agrees to marry Baron Tuzenbach, whom she doesn't
love
Obtains her teaching degree
Decides to leave and dedicate her life to her work after Baron {husband} gets shot in a duel
Symbolism
Moscow is a major symbolic element: the sisters are always dreaming of it and constantly express their desire to return. They identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. The meaning of their lives never presents itself and they are forced to seek it out for themselves.
Chekhov's life The Three Sisters
Essay
Main topic:
Focuses mainly on the history of Russia and the play as well as the contrast between it. It also discusses how the characters act as a result of events taking place at that time in Russia
Thesis:
"Adding structural-thematic analysis to the actor’s tools for interpreting Chekhov’s Three Sisters ensures a greater fidelity to the text while providing a more specific key to unlocking the point of view and possible actions of a character."

*Discusses characters in contrast with history*
About the Author
Basic Story
Andrei Prozorova
The brother of the sisters
In Act I, he plans to become a professor in Moscow. He then marries Natasha Ivanovna
Works at County Council
Andrei's debts have grown to 35000 rubles {due to gambling} and has been forced to mortgage the house
He does not tell his sisters nor give them their shares
Later becomes a father of two
He considers himself a failure and is laughed at in town
Natasha Ivanovna
Andrei's wife
In Act I, she is poor and is made fun by the sisters
Progresses and becomes bossy and vicious
Uses her relationship with Andrei to manipulate the sisters
Begins an affair with Protopopov, the head of the local council
She later inherits the control of the house from her weak husband
Fyodor Kulygin
Masha's husband and the Latin teacher at school
A jovial, kind man who loves his wife & her sisters
He later admits to Olga that he should have married her
He eventually takes back his wife and accepts her after her failings
Characters
Chekhov vs. The Three Sisters
About the Author
The Basic Story
Anton Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, Russia
He was abandoned by his bankrupt father {who went to Moscow} and lived alone for three years
He attended Moscow University Medical School in 1879 and graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1884
As a student, he published many short stories under a pseudonym
Chekhov created his own style based on objectivity, originality, and compassion
In the plays "Three Sisters," "Seagull," and "Cherry Orchard," he mastered the use of understatement, anticlimax, and implied emotion.
The leading actress of the Moscow Art Theater, Olga Knipper-Chekhov, became his wife.
In May of 1904, he became ill with tuberculosis
He died on July 15th, 1904 in Badenweiler, Germany
Chekhov has greatly influenced modern drama
Symbolism
Scholarly Article

Colonel-Lieutenant Vershinin
Baron Tuzenbach
Relationship between Chekhov's Life and the Play
He planted many trees and looked after them just like his children
Before marriage, he would constantly have affairs
His wife's name: Olga
His father was abusive to his mother & his brother ended up being the same with his wife and kids
Colonel Vershinin plays the role of the father figure
Natasha, Masha, Colonel-Vershinin all had affairs
Olga is the name of the eldest sister
Andrei does not physically abuse the sisters, but he betrays them: he mortgages the house they live in and gives all the power to his wife
First Argument:
When an actor begins to define the given circumstances within the play, a perusal of the historical setting and period contains helpful clues to the audience
Example,
the sisters are a part of a class where girls who were educated in languages, concert piano, and trained in other delicacies are meant for a society that is no longer available to them in their small provincial town {their lifestyle is not suitable to the town's lifestyle as they moved from Moscow 11 years ago.
Scenes from the Play-
I

Irina's name-day and a party is held at the Prozorva residence. Andrei proposes Natasha
Fatma- Olga
Yasmin- Natasha
Vida- Soldier & Andrei
Scenes from the Play
- II

Part 1:
Andrei & Natasha are married
with a son. Natasha slowly gets
taking control
Yasmin- Natasha
Vida- Andrei
Part 2:
Colonel-Vershinin & Masha are having a conversation. Vershinin reveals his feelings towards Masha
Fatma- Vershinin
Vida- Masha

Scenes from the Play-
III

Baron Tuzenbach {Irina's husband} has been killed in a duel. The sisters are informed immediately by a soldier
Fatma- Olga
Yasmin- Irina
Vida- Masha, the soldier
Original Script
Second Argument:
From the very opening moments of the play, a whole host of contrasting characters, language, and symbols are revealed
Example,
Olga, the oldest sister, is seen correcting books in a teacher’s uniform, signifying duty, discipline, and hard work. She talks of the past, using words and phrases like, “I remember…I remember it exactly…I remember it all exactly” (259).
Third Argument:

Signifying an overall tone of renewal and hope, each sister operates from her own point of view while trying to escape her surrounding reality.
Example,
Chekhov gives us several textual hints and structural evidence of this action of performing reality-avoiding rituals. The first two acts are set at parties. Chekhov does not show Irina at her various jobs, Olga at work, and Masha at home with Kulygin. Chekhov leaves their real lives off stage and in between the acts. What he puts on stage are the moments when these characters are desperately trying to escape the reality of their lives.
Full transcript