NATALIA IVANOVA (NATASHA), his
fiancée, later his wife (28)
FEODOR ILITCH KULIGIN, high
school teacher, married to MASHA (20)
VERSHININ, lieutenant-colonel in charge of a battery (42)
NICOLAI LVOVITCH TUZENBACH,
baron, lieutenant in the army (30)
VASSILI VASSILEVITCH SOLENI,
IVAN ROMANOVITCH CHEBUTIKIN, army
ALEXEY PETROVITCH FEDOTIK,
VLADIMIR CARLOVITCH RODE,
FERAPONT, door-keeper at local
council offices, an old man
ANFISA, nurse (80)
[Ages are stated in
The action takes place in a
[In PROSOROV'S house. A
sitting-room with pillars; behind is seen a large dining-room. It
is midday, the sun is shining brightly outside. In the dining-room
the table is being laid for lunch.]
[OLGA, in the regulation blue
dress of a teacher at a girl's high school, is walking about
correcting exercise books; MASHA, in a black dress, with a hat on
her knees, sits and reads a book; IRINA, in white, stands about,
with a thoughtful expression.]
OLGA. It's just a year since
father died last May the fifth, on your name-day, Irina. It was
very cold then, and snowing. I thought I would never survive it,
and you were in a dead faint. And now a year has gone by and we are
already thinking about it without pain, and you are wearing a white
dress and your face is happy. [Clock strikes twelve] And the clock
struck just the same way then. [Pause] I remember that there was
music at the funeral, and they fired a volley in the cemetery. He
was a general in command of a brigade but there were few people
present. Of course, it was raining then, raining hard, and
IRINA. Why think about it!
[BARON TUZENBACH, CHEBUTIKIN and
SOLENI appear by the table in the dining-room, behind the
OLGA. It's so warm to-day that we
can keep the windows open, though the birches are not yet in
flower. Father was put in command of a brigade, and he rode out of
Moscow with us eleven years ago. I remember perfectly that it was
early in May and that everything in Moscow was flowering then. It
was warm too, everything was bathed in sunshine. Eleven years have
gone, and I remember everything as if we rode out only yesterday.
Oh, God! When I awoke this morning and saw all the light and the
spring, joy entered my heart, and I longed passionately to go
CHEBUTIKIN. Will you take a bet
TUZENBACH. Oh, nonsense.
[MASHA, lost in a reverie over
her book, whistles softly.]
OLGA. Don't whistle, Masha. How
can you! [Pause] I'm always having headaches from having to go to
the High School every day and then teach till evening. Strange
thoughts come to me, as if I were already an old woman. And really,
during these four years that I have been working here, I have been
feeling as if every day my strength and youth have been squeezed
out of me, drop by drop. And only one desire grows and gains in
IRINA. To go away to Moscow. To
sell the house, drop everything here, and go to Moscow...
OLGA. Yes! To Moscow, and as soon
[CHEBUTIKIN and TUZENBACH
IRINA. I expect Andrey will
become a professor, but still, he won't want to live here. Only
poor Masha must go on living here.
OLGA. Masha can come to Moscow
every year, for the whole summer.
[MASHA is whistling
IRINA. Everything will be
arranged, please God. [Looks out of the window] It's nice out
to-day. I don't know why I'm so happy: I remembered this morning
that it was my name-day, and I suddenly felt glad and remembered my
childhood, when mother was still with us. What beautiful thoughts I
had, what thoughts!
OLGA. You're all radiance to-day,
I've never seen you look so lovely. And Masha is pretty, too.
Andrey wouldn't be bad-looking, if he wasn't so stout; it does
spoil his appearance. But I've grown old and very thin, I suppose
it's because I get angry with the girls at school. To-day I'm free.
I'm at home. I haven't got a headache, and I feel younger than I
was yesterday. I'm only twenty-eight.... All's well, God is
everywhere, but it seems to me that if only I were married and
could stay at home all day, it would be even better. [Pause] I
should love my husband.
TUZENBACH. [To SOLENI] I'm tired
of listening to the rot you talk. [Entering the sitting-room] I
forgot to say that Vershinin, our new lieutenant-colonel of
artillery, is coming to see us to-day. [Sits down to the
OLGA. That's good. I'm
IRINA. Is he old?
TUZENBACH. Oh, no. Forty or
forty-five, at the very outside. [Plays softly] He seems rather a
good sort. He's certainly no fool, only he likes to hear himself
IRINA. Is he interesting?
TUZENBACH. Oh, he's all right,
but there's his wife, his mother-in-law, and two daughters. This is
his second wife. He pays calls and tells everybody that he's got a
wife and two daughters. He'll tell you so here. The wife isn't all
there, she does her hair like a flapper and gushes extremely. She
talks philosophy and tries to commit suicide every now and again,
apparently in order to annoy her husband. I should have left her
long ago, but he bears up patiently, and just grumbles.