Anton Chekov's The Bear reflects his deep sense of humour by introducing characters, perhaps, from his real life experience or a creation basing on things that sometimes happen in Russia. The entire play is centred upon two characters Smirnov and Mrs. Popov. It shows a sense of detachment from reality more tending towards a farce. The element of farce is brought to heighten the emotional intensity. Smirnov realizes that the hate may be culminating into love and that is the whole farce of this play. Quick changes that take place in this drama could only be accomplished in the art of Farce.
The dialogue between Smirnov and Mrs.Popov provides the fun. He comes to demand the money that he had lent to her husband before his death. She remained in mourning for long and Smirnov was eager to collect the money from her. She promised her husband to repay the borrowed money. It was a commitment. The arguments generate needless heat.
There is more of dialogue in the entire play than action and that in fact contributes to the farce of the play. Mrs.Popov tells Smirnov that it was a commitment to her husband before his death. She would repay the money that he had borrowed from Smirnov, the landlord of the house.
In a sudden change of topic, Smirnov tells her that he has refused twelve women and nine refused him This triggers a very big verbal fight resulting each accusing each of foul play. In the middle of the talk she loses her poise and calls him a crude bear. In the same fit of temper she rushes to fetch her husband's pistols. Here comes a tremendous change when she finds that she didn't know to handle the weapon. She succumbs to her feminine weakness. Debt is forgotten.
Smirnov realizes that she is helpless and his sympathy transforms into love. The seriousness that is shown in the beginning of Smirnov's purpose of visit to Mrs.Popov's house is no more there. When Smirnov says that if she fights I will shoot her like a chicken has no sting. Words sound empty.
Smirnov's strange farcical adventure from merciless debt collector to dotage brings out the real entertainment, though a farcical comedy. The ludicrousness of the two falling in love is what Anton Chekov is to show in the play The Bear. Perhaps there is a suggestion that the sudden love that develops is something that happens in life. That is what Chekov tries to project!
Chekhov is not the first person to use this idea of "love at first sight" that stems back to the myth of Cupid's arrow, with love hiding as hatred for another or even for a whole gender.
The Idea of the Strength of Love in Chekhov's The Bear*
In the one-act farce The Bear, Anton Chekhov shows a man and woman who have never met before falling suddenly in love. With such an unlikely main action, ideas may seem unimportant, but one can nevertheless find a number of ideas in the play. Some of these are that responsibility to life is stronger than that to death, that people may find justification for even the most contradictory actions, that love makes people do and say unusual and foolish things, and that lifelong commitments may be made with no more than minimal thought. One of the play's major ideas is that love and desire are powerful enough to overcome even the strongest obstacles.0 This idea is shown as the force of love conquers commitment to the dead, renunciation of womankind, unfamiliarity, and anger."
Commitment to her dead husband is the obstacle to love shown in Mrs. Popov. She states that she has made a vow never to see daylight because of her mourning, and she spends her time staring at her husband's picture and comforting herself with her faithfulness. Her devotion to the dead is so intense that she claims at the start that she is already in her grave. In her, Chekhov has created a strong obstacle to love so that he might illustrate his idea that love conquers all. By the play's end, Mrs. Popov's embracing Smirnov is a visual example of the idea.
Renunciation of women is the obstacle for Smirnov. He tells Mrs. Popov that his experience with women has made him bitter and that he no longer gives "a good goddamn" about them. His disillusioned words seem to make him an impossible candidate for love. But, in keeping with Chekhov's idea, Smirnov is the one who is soon confessing to the audience that he has fallen in love suddenly and uncontrollably. For him, the idea about the force of love operates so strongly that he would even claim happiness at being shot by "those little velvet hands."
As if these personal causes were not enough to prevent love permanently, a major obstacle is that the two people are strangers. Not only have they never met, they have never even heard of each other. According to the main idea, however, this unfamiliarity is not insurmountable. Chekhov is dramatizing he power of love, and shows that it is strong enough to overcome lack of familiarity or friendship. Indeed, that Smirnov and Mrs. Popov are total strangers may be almost irrelevant to the idea about love's strength as shown in the play.
Anger and the threat of violence, however, make the greatest obstacles. The two characters become so irritated about Smirnov's demand for payment that, as a climax of their heated words, Smirnov challenges Mrs. Popov to a duel! Along with their own personal barriers against loving, it would seem that the threat of their shooting at each other, even if poor Luka could forestall it, would cause the beginning of lifelong hatred between the two. And yet love knocks down all these obstacles, in line with Chekhov's idea that love's power is irresistible.
The idea, of course, is not new or surprising. It is the subject and substance of many popular songs, stories, and other plays and movies. What is surprising about Chekhov's use of the idea is that love in The Bear wins out suddenly against such unlikely conditions. These conditions bring up an interesting and closely related idea: Chekhov is suggesting that intense feelings, even irritation, anger, and professed hatred, may lead to love. In the speeches of Smirnov-and Mrs. Popov, one can see hurt, disappointment, regret, frustration, annoyance, anger, and rage. Yet at the high point of these negative feelings, the characters fall in love. Could Chekhov be saying that it is a mixture of such feelings that brings out love? Though The Bear is a farce, and a good one, Chekhov's use of the idea of love's power is based in an accurate judgment about human beings.