2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:28
In January 1986, A. P. Chekhov's story "Tosca" was published for the first time in "Petersburgskaya Gazeta". By this time, the author was already known as a master of short humorous stories. However, the new work was fundamentally different from those ironic scenes with which the writer's name was associated. Before starting a summary of Chekhov's "Tosca", I would like to draw attention to two plot plans that are inextricably linked with each other.
The first is a call for sympathy, empathy and compassion for the mental anguish of a single person, and the second is a question that sooner or later arises in the soul of every person: longing for a kindred soul, for warmth, for love, which, with on the one hand, it leads to numbness and emptiness, and on the other hand, it pushes you to seek the truth.
Summary of Chekhov's story "Tosca"
The piece begins with a description of a snow-covered street in the light of street lamps. In the midst of white silence, the coachman Iona Potapov is sitting on the goats. Silence. Snowslowly spinning, covering everything around with a thick layer. But the main character does not notice anything. He sits, motionless and white. The horse is also standing motionless. He left before dinner, but since that time no one has sat down with him. However, he is of little concern. Twilight descends imperceptibly, and silent colors acquire other shades. Noise, loud noises. Jonah winces. Suddenly, a military man sits in a sleigh next to him and asks him to go to Vyborgskaya. He brings Jonah out of his spiritual stupor. However, either from surprise, or from a long wait without moving, the coachman cannot even out the movement of the wagon, and several times miraculously avoids a collision with passers-by. But it does not excite him, does not frighten, and does not disturb … The only desire is to talk with the rider. He starts a conversation and directly, decisively and somewhere even unexpectedly frankly tells about the death of his son, who died a week ago from a fever. But the military man, expressing dry sympathy, did not keep up the conversation, and Jonah was forced to shut up. He took him and dropped him off. And again, bending over, he froze and plunged into his loneliness: “An hour passes, another…”
This is not the end of Chekhov's "Tosca" summary, because after a while three rather tipsy young men approach Jonah. They argue long and loudly, charge the coachman a small fee, and finally get into the sleigh. Their behavior is defiant. But Jonah doesn't care. He has one desire - to talk to people about his grief, about how his son fell ill, how he suffered and what he said before his death, about what is happening in his village, about his daughter. Cheerful company is noisydiscusses his affairs without noticing him, and he, as if inadvertently, tries to wedged into their conversation and tell about his deceased son. But they do not care about him, and they rudely answer him that sooner or later we will all be in the next world. And again the end of the journey, and again the passengers hurriedly leave it: "Jonah looks after them for a long time." What to do? He earned little money, and he decides to return home, where they can listen to him. He lives with other drivers. But by the time he arrived, everyone was already in bed. And again he is left alone. Can't anyone listen to him? The son died a week ago, and since then he has not been able to share his experiences, his sadness, his longing with anyone. He doesn't need sympathy or understanding. He longs to be heard. He needs to speak up. He wants someone to witness his life in these ill-fated days, albeit the only one, albeit silent, but real. He goes to the stable to feed his horse, and tells her everything that lay "a layer of snow" on his soul.
This short story is a short summary of Chekhov's "Tosca". However, I don’t want to dwell only on a dry retelling of the work, who went where and what he said. It's not about the words or actions of the main characters. They are only a reflection of what happens to a person inside, his emotional experiences, desires and hopes. Silently falling snow, the frozen bent figure of Jonah, who is “white as a ghost”, endless waiting and complete silence around - everything speaks of the inexpressible longing that came after the death of his son,spread throughout the body, slowly, confidently, without stones and barriers, and became a full mistress of the soul and body. If Jonah's chest burst, as the author writes, then longing, it seems, flooded the whole world. She captured him completely, wrapped him up and froze him, like this white snow. It is difficult for him to resist her, he obeys, without realizing it himself, and at the same time, hope, a desire for warmth, a search for the truth, why it happened, why “death was recognized by the door” and came not to him, but to his son, make him seek companionship. He starts a difficult conversation for him, endures the indifference and indifference of people to his grief, continues to wait for a hectic evening with bright colors, even if he is now so far from this celebration of life. He needs to get rid of this endless longing, tormenting anxiety, inconsolable loneliness and find at least one among the thousands of people scurrying through the streets with whom he could talk "sensibly, with the arrangement." But no one wants to help him with this. Everyone remains indifferent and stingy with feelings. He is not offended. He continues on his way, otherwise "an enormous yearning that knows no bounds" will win, and this should not happen.
Chekhov, Tosca, summary: conclusion
“To whom shall we send my sadness?…” - this is the line where the story begins. Probably, a summary of Chekhov's "Tosca" should also begin with this epigraph. However, the first words, the first thought, is what we are invited to comprehend and feel throughout the entire action, and the final saying, the final image is a confirmation, proof of what was said at the very beginning.
“To whom shall we speak my sadness?…” - the bitter cry of Joseph the Beautiful, calling in any sorrow or despondency to turn to the Lord for help, who alone knows about all our hardships. Every person, every animal, every plant is a part of the Creator, but the human soul, absorbed by the constant bustle, is not always ready to open up and share its warmth with others, not always ready for unconditional love and deep compassion for the pain of another. Therefore, the search for Jonah is in vain. He does not find a listener among people, but finds him in a silent horse, in his "horse", which initially caught the slightest vibrations in the owner's soul. She stood motionless for hours under the wet snow, “immersed in thought,” when Jonah surrendered to the power of sadness and loneliness, and ran at a trot, sensing that the owner’s longing was becoming unbearable and was rushing out as soon as possible. And now the quiet, mute animal "chews, listens and breathes into the hands of its owner …", and between them there is a real communication, a silent exchange of warmth and understanding. “To whom shall we sing my grief?…” Truly seek help, it will truly come to you, and it doesn’t matter here how, when and in what form.
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