“There are two kinds of revolutionary writers: Those who create something new. What’s new gets old. And there are those whose works are one of a kind. Such is Chekhov.”
Angelos Terzakis, greek writer
Chekhov A. (1986), Three Sisters – The Cherry Orchard – The Wedding – Swansong, Athens: Dodoni, Translated by: Likourgos Kallergis (Volume II)
Chekhov’s fifth multi–act play, Three Sisters (Три сeстры), is numbered among the writer’s four masterpieces, along with The Seagull, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard. It tells the story of three women who moved from Moscow to a Russian province about ten years before its opening and are still struggling to adapt to their new environment. They are often portrayed daydreaming, picturing the time they’ll manage to return to Moscow, where everything shall be better…
The play is set in Andrey Prozorov’s home, where he lives with his two unmarried sisters, the eldest, Olga, and the youngest, Irina. Masha, the middle sister, is married to Kulygin, the high-school teacher. Natasha Ivanovna, Andrey’s fiancée and wife-to-be and some men working in the military are the family’s closest thing to a friend. Chekhov shows us how the family’s dynamics changes over the years and how love, friendship or family ties are shaped between these characters.
The Three Sisters is an ode to the unattainable since all three leads want what they can’t have: Olga her lost youth, Masha better social surroundings and Irina, love. While all of them spend their time indolently, idealising Moscow, a foreigner, their brother’s wife, comes to unsettle them. Natasha Ivanovna, a woman of lowness and uneducated compared to the three sisters, is gradually growing to a dominating personality of the house. This rearrangement of social classes is not random, especially considering that although Chekhov wrote this play in 1900, he chose to put it about fifty years earlier, in 1850. Knowing that serfdom was abolished in 1861, he wanted to “foresee” the changes that would occur in Russian society, through its smallest piece, family.
You can read the play on line, here.