The two short stories “Ionych” and “Ana on the neck” by Antony Chekov portray a shift in power where a once powerless and easily manipulated character takes a quick turn and all of a sudden becomes the power to reckon with.
The protagonists however in these stories ascend to power and their lives become completely changed in the process (Eaglewood 45). The paper explores the manner in which the short stories portray power and in particular, the similarities and differences in the extent in which the lives of the protagonists drift in the two stories. In “Ana on the neck”, the protagonist who is an eighteen year old girl is forced to marry an elderly man in order to change her situation of poverty.
Her father is an alcoholic and her mother from whom she inherited some several traits had passed away some years back. She marries in order to become wealthy a thing that does not happen at first since she is afraid of the husband who is always yarning for power and whom she is not attracted to but only his wealth. Her situation takes a turn while at a dance she attracts the attention of almost all men who are present and more so the attention of a rich man influential man. She becomes his mistress and her condition takes a sudden drift as she takes charge since her husband now depends on her to rise in ranks and to gain the favors of influential men in the country.
There is a visible change in power relations from the vulnerable young girl who takes control from her once powerful husband who dictated her actions to a strong woman who manipulates the husband and has an affair in the face of her husband. In “Ionych”, the protagonist Startsev falls in love with the young girl, Ekaterina Ivanovna when invited to visit the Turkins. The young girl also known as Kitten disappoints Startsev by refusing his marriage proposal a thing that completely changes his life. At this age Ekaterina is interested in nothing but her music and yearns for freedom and power once she becomes a renowned musician. She portrays a sense of manipulation as she is in control where she hands the desperate Startsev a note indicating that they meet at the cemetery at midnight a thing that he complies with but she never turns up. When asked, she tells him coldly that it was meant to be a joke and that he suffered because he did not understand the joke. Four years later, when she comes home during the birthday of her mother, she tries to reconcile with him to no avail since he remains cold to her feelings and attractions.
When she writes to him telling him to pay them a visit, he ignores and vows never to visit them again. According to Eaglewood, this shows a shift in power relations where by the feelings of affection are transferred from Startsev to Kitten (56). She suffers under the manipulation of the now changed man. The two stories portray the manner in which power can corrupt a person to the extent that they forget where they come from as they pursue personal fulfillment. Anna changes completely and despite the fact that she married to change the situation in her family, she does not change anything as her brothers continue walking in torn shoes and her father sinks deeper into alcoholism. Startsev forgets the manner in which love does to people and ignores Ekaterina Ivanovna despite her having realized the mistake she made and being reformed.
The difference in the turn of power in the two short stories stands out at the end of the two stories. In “Ana on the neck”, the protagonist lives in happiness afterwards having discovered a secret to her happiness while in “Ionych” the protagonist leads a lonely, solitary and distressful life and has a shift in his mood whereby he becomes ill tempered and grows old as an angry old man.
Chekhov: A collection of Critical Essay. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1967.