The Lady with the Dog
by Anton Chekhov
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
"The Lady with the Dog" is famous for breaking the rules of what a short story should be. As author Vladimir Nabokov said of this work in his Lectures on Russian Literature, "There is no problem, no regular climax, no point at the end. And it is one of the greatest stories ever written."
Consider the story's conclusion: "It was clear to both of them that they had still a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning." The last word is "beginning." Chekhov isn't wrapping this up with a bow; he's essentially leaving it unfinished. Part of this has to do with Chekhov's own ideas about what a story should do, namely ask questions instead of answering them. We talk about this a lot more in "What's Up With the Ending?", so be sure to check that out.