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The Bear

             Anton Chekhov’s play, “The Bear,” is considered to be, “a farce, a dramatic form designed preeminently to evoke laughter, and it therefore contains extravagant language and boisterous and sudden action” (Roberts and Jacobs, p.1570). The Bear is developed primarily on an entertainment aspect; considering the excessive satirical humor, the noticeable comical dialogue, as Smirnov and Mrs. Popov argue throughout the story and the amusing proceedings that continue throughout the play. “Chekhov minimized The Bear, referring to it as a ‘joke’ and a ‘vaudeville’- both words suggesting a farcical work with little form or substance” (Roberts and Jacobs, p.1570). .
             Previous to the play even beginning, Chekhov foreshadows the events and tone of his piece by stating the title as, “The Bear, A Joke in One Act” (Chekhov, p.1571). The key word that Chekhov uses to inform the reader of the tone of his piece is “Joke.” The definition of a joke is, “something said or done to provoke laughter, especially a brief narrative with a humorous climax” (Merriam-Webster, p.403). Given the description of the title, the reader should already make the conjecture that this particular play’s purpose is solely for entertainment value. .
             The Bear’s humor and entertainment intention become exceedingly clear within the first minutes of the play. As Mrs. Popov, a widow of seven months and her servant Luka, sit in the drawing room of her country house, Luka is trying to persuade Mrs. Popov into going outside and socializing with her neighbors. As the reader believes that a serious, emotional conversation is taking place Luka states, “My wife died when her time came, too. Well? I grieved, I wept for a month, and that was enough for her; the old lady wasn’t worth a second more” (p.1571).