The sun is shining, birds are singing, servants are frolicking in the orchard, but melancholy widow Elena Ivanovna Popova walls herself up in her home, refusing heed her footman Luka’s advice to rejoin the living as she mourns her much beloved, yet faithless, husband. When Grigory Stepanovitch Smirnov arrives to collect on a debt from her late husband, desperate with urgency to make his own mortgage payment on time, she tries to put him off until her steward returns from town, pleading a lack of cash and a lack of inclination to deal with money matters on the seven-month anniversary of her loss. Smirnov, full of rage at debt dodgers in general and silly, sentimental female delicacy in particular, refuses to leave, and a battle of wills and battle of the sexes ensues. Will it end with a duel, a heart attack, or a wedding? In Anton Chekhov’s comedic one-act The Bear (subtitled “A Joke in One Act, or, The Boor”), two fierce, passionate, ridiculous individuals come to know themselves, and each other, in the course of an afternoon and an argument.
The Bear guide sections