A 35-year-old Russian man named Nikolai Ivanov is having a midlife crisis. He has fallen out of love with his wife Anna (who sacrificed everything for him), he is deeply in debt and in danger of losing his estate, and most troubling, he is severely depressed. He was once a highly successful member of the County Counsel, a man full of laughter, passion, and love, but now all he can do is complain about his life. As aware of this change as he is, he can’t seem to shake himself out of it, and it affects everyone around him. His wife Anna is dying of tuberculosis, and the doctor recommends that she take a trip to Crimea; but Ivanov can’t afford it. His distant relative Borkin, who is in charge of the estate, is full of ideas about how to make money, but Ivanov is too irritated by his company to take him seriously. The beautiful, intelligent daughter of Ivanov’s boss, Sasha, confesses her love for him, but even the excitement of that can’t snap him out of his morose mood. The cold Russian winters that we know so well from Chekhov’s other works seem to be a metaphor for Ivanov’s soul, and the darkness consuming him leads him and those who love him to a tragic end.
Ivanov guide sections