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English 116 Research Paper

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mpoteet
Words 1898
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Michael Poteet Poteet 1

Professor Lesser

English 116

December 8, 2011

Comparisons and Dissimilarity of Love
Octavio Paz, Franz Kafka, and Anton Chekhov, despite living in different eras and locations had similar sentience while going through many different experiences in life. This fact demonstrates the value of comparison but also the ability to contrast to understand life. Through “The Lady With the Dog”, “The Hunger Artist”, and “My Life With the Wave”, the reader is able to conclude: The stories while being decidedly different in diegesis’s also contain similarities in the symbolic contrivances used throughout all three stories
Upon reading “The Lady with the Dog” by Chekhov the reader cannot help but sympathize with Anna and Dmitri. Sadly the timing of the relationship is unfortunate. The characters ultimately act in ignorance, because they do not find satisfaction in the relationships with their spouses so they choose to find it somewhere else. This is where are the pain the characters are feeling is coming from. Because sexual intimacy is so powerful and brings couples together into one “person” it causes so much pain for the couple because they have felt that feeling and cannot have it. They both meet their fate in love by finding their true match in one another, but very rarely do fate and timing coincide with one another, so they are forced to continually meet in secrecy through out the story. Poteet 2 Throughout different points of the story the reader is led to changing feelings of sympathy towards the controversial characters in “The Lady with the Dog” because of the unique portrayal of the process of love that takes place in the lives of Demetri and Anna. It is through the couples relationship that brings out the shattering of Anna’s idealism while still accomplishing a loving relationship. Gurov is a man who has been trapped in a loveless arranged marriage for years. Although he is young and in his thirties, he is portrayed as an experienced seducer. “He had begun being unfaithful to her long ago –had been unfaithful to her often, and, probably on that account, always spoke ill of women, and when they were talked about in his presence, used to call them ‘the lower race’ (Chekhov 246).” Chekhov presents Gurov in a scathing way, emphasizing his misogyny and manipulation of women. Anna on the other hand is an innocent woman that is taken advantage of in her weakness and vulnerability. After she commits her act of adultery she expresses how sorrowful she is. “God forgive me, she said, and her eyes filled with tears. It’s awful… I am a bad, low woman” (249). It is the action of adultery that sets the stage for the shattering of Anna’s idealism.
Gurov is beginning to show his contradicting impulses that will begin to confuse the reader of his ethical intentions. Like Anna, Gurov also has some interesting contradicting impulses. For example, after Anna commits adultery and expresses her sorrow and remorse she says, “…My husband may be a good, honest man, but he is a flunkey!... There must be a different sort of life, I want to live! To live, to live!” (249). It is obvious that she wants to be honest and pure, even though she committed adultery she overly expresses her true sorrow, pain and remorse, but she also desires excitement and Poteet 3 adventure. Anna realizes her mistakes but she still has some wants of excitement, although when she commits these acts she becomes disgusted with herself. Anna starts to question what she wants out of life and begins to debate the path she wishes to take with her life. Despite the course of events that lead influence Anna and Gurov’s decisions, there is a significant passage that is easy to miss but very important when Gurov goes to find Anna
Gurov went without haste to Old Gontcharny Street and found the house. Just opposite the house stretched a long grey fence adorned with nails. … "One would run away from a fence like that," thought Gurov, looking from the fence to the windows of the house and back again. … He walked up and down, and loathed the grey fence more and more, and by now he thought irritably that Anna Sergeyevna had forgotten him, and was perhaps already amusing herself with some one else, and that that was very natural in a young woman who had nothing to look at from morning till night but that confounded fence. (251)

“The fence outside her husband’s house symbolically confines Anna, just as she is actually confined by her marriage. In fact, both she and Gurov feel trapped in their lives and are longing for an escape through each other” (The Fence). Even more significant in this passage here is the fact that Gurov is, perhaps for the first time, really seeing the world through Anna's eyes; He is understanding her perspective, which goes some way in breaking the boundaries that separate them from each other (The Fence). This is another breaking point Anna is choosing Gurov and he is likewise choosing her to fill each others Poteet 4 needs. At the end of the story Anna is left with a shattered idealism, but she has gained a new relationship for better or for worse the reader is not told.
Like Demetri and Anna are in love The hunger artist also has a love, but un like the couple, he is in love with teaching and being loved and understood by other people.
While in “The Lady With the Dog”, Anna’s shattered idealism results in a lover, in Kafka’s, “The Hunger Artist”, the artist’s shattered idealism only leaves him with tragedy. Since the beginning of the story the hunger artist is always out to prove himself. “Besides casual onlookers there were also relays of permanent watchers selected by the public… it was their task to watch the hunger artist day and night” (Kafka 350). This pressure of people watching over him making sure he would not break, made his fast miserable, but nevertheless he would do anything to prove that he was trust worthy. There was no way to rid the people of the their suspicions; he had to put up with them. “He had to put up with all that, and in the course of time had got use to it, but his inner dissatisfaction always rankled” (351). Even in the beginning the artist’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction came from what people thought of him. He could not except that while yes he did have his message, but for some individuals he was just a cheap form of entertainment. When the artists’ act of fasting matures he lets his emotions of disappointment get a hold of him. On the fortieth day when the hunger artist was brought out of his cage to shown to the public he was hardened with stubbornness. His dissatisfaction and disappointment was finally coming out and manifesting itself as something the reader notices. “Why stop fasting at this particular moment, after forty days of it” (352). He Poteet 5 believed now that he is in his best fasting form, and he refused to stop with the results he got from the public. The artist looses his ability to think rationally. Despite the fact that it is extremely unhealthy for someone to continue fasting after forty days, he also ignores the warnings that customers lose interest after a period of forty days. Eventually, the artist realizes what the pubic is interested in which further appends his malaise. The reason the regular watchers are watching the artist is because they want to be the one to catch the artist cheating. It is not because of some great message that the artist has; it is merely because they eagerly want to catch him cheating. The audience continually expresses conceit at being confident he is cheating but no one is able to support the theories with any amount of truth. So the artist eventually gives up and accepts the audience’s inevitable dissatisfaction and his own shattered idealism then he ultimately fast until his death. The hunger artist’s ultimate suffering comes from the publics inability to adequately appreciate his art. At the end the artist says, “If I had found the food I liked, I should have made no fuss and stuffed myself like you or any one else” (356). The Artist says, he could not find satisfaction in his profession because of his inability to please and be happy. But even deeper, Kafka is suggesting through characterization that humans can never satisfy their desires. Ironically the artist can only receive nourishment from not being nourished at all, which breaks his heart and completely shatters his idealism.
In ‘‘My Life with the Wave,’’ a man, while at the beach, is seduced by an ocean wave, which insists on following him home to Mexico City. The man and the wave have a passionate, turbulent, love affair, in which the wave is both adoring and demanding. Poteet 6
Through the symbolism of the wave, which represents a woman, Octavio Paz depicts a woman and man in love. “Paz represents the wave as a metaphorical image of a woman in love, associating the feminine with nature, passion, and emotional turbulence. In representing the ‘‘authorities’’ who arrest, interrogate, imprison, and try the narrator, Paz further explores themes of freedom and oppression” (My Life). The narrator has aspirations of loving the wave for forever but his idealism is eventually shattered like the characters discussed from “The Hunger Artist” and “The Lady With the Dog”. But unlike the other two stories the narrator in “My Life With the Wave” loves an inanimate object. Eventually because she is lonely, he brings her a school of fish to swim in her waters; but, when he becomes enraged with jealousy of her attentions to the fish, he tries to attack them, and the wave nearly drowns him. This is the point that he realizes that their love will not make it and they will not be together for forever. After that, his love for the wave turns to ‘‘fear and hate.’’ To get away from her, he leaves home for a month. When he returns, he finds that the winter weather has turned the wave into ‘‘a statue of ice.’’ With cold malice, he sells the frozen wave to a friend of his, a waiter at a restaurant, who chops the ice into small pieces to be used for cooling drinks. He finally gets rid of his old lover whom after “the honey moon faze” begins to hate her more and more as time goes on. His precursory vision is destroyed and thus his idealism of love is shattered. It is always interesting with an analysis of multiple works searching for similarities. It is an inevitable realization, that people really do have very similar problems and questions throughout life. The stories while being very different in some parts also have some surprisingly different ideas and motifs. Poteet 7 Works Cited
"My Life with the Wave Study Guide - Octavio Paz –" ENotes - Literature Study Guides, Lesson

Plans, and More. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.


"The Fence in The Lady with the Dog." Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources,

Test Prep. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. <


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