Stoicism In Chekhov's Life, By Andrei Yefimych

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Chekhov uses Andrei Yefimych as a symbol of the actions and ideas of the majority, and the treatment of his character shows what happens when someone even seems to demur the status quo. One of Andrei’s identifying traits is his belief in Stoicism, a Greek school of philosophy that taught that virtue is based on knowledge, and that the wise ignore and remain indifferent to suffering and the vicissitudes of fortune. Chekhov deliberately crafts Andrei to partake in this belief system to weaken his character and establish his timid personality; because Andrei believes in Stoicism, he does not question or attempt to change anything unsatisfactory in his life. The author even directly states that Andrei, “is positively incapable of ordering, prohibiting, …show more content…
6 (Chekhov 193). One of his first descriptions of the ward illustrates an image of a “special despondent and accursed look that only our hospitals and prisons have” (Chekhov 171). Typically, hospitals and prisons are not institutions that are connected, but Chekhov juxtaposes them to show that the ward is not a place intended for mental healing as it should be, but essentially a prison where the troublesome and those with different ideologies can be kept. Andrei Yefimych’s outlook on the ward also supports its identity as a prison of sorts, stating “that it was an immoral institution and highly detrimental to the health of the citizens. In his opinion, the most intelligent thing that could be done would be to discharge the patients and close the place down… in any case it would be useless; when physical and moral uncleanness was driven out of one place, it went to another” (Chekhov 182). Andrei describes the ward as a center of “physical and moral uncleanness,” meaning that the people held in the ward are sick, but are also held there to restrain their unclean morals and opposing ideas from spreading to the masses (Chekhov 182). Chekhov also uses his setting to establish how the ward controls and contains the people within it, thus making the ward an ally of authority, who use the ward as a place for those who dispute them. He describes how “In one lane [Ivan] met two prisoners in chains, being escorted by four armed soldiers” (Chekhov 176). The presence of soldiers in a mental asylum demonstrates how the ward truly abides by (authority/gov’t?). Later, Ivan speaks against being held in the ward when he outbursts, saying, “How dare they keep us here? I believe the law clearly states that no one can be deprived of freedom without a trial! This is coercion! Tyranny!” (Chekhov 218). Connecting the ward to tyranny exhibits the great extent to

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