by Anton Chekhov
Uncle Vanya Theme of Drugs and Alcohol
The vodka consumption, along with the medicines that Serebryakov needs for his gout, are heavy in Uncle Vanya. The fact that people who use drugs and alcohol in the play, namely Astrov and Serebryakov, are completely dependent on them shows us the attitude that Chekhov takes toward them. No groovy parties here; drugs and alcohols are for weak people.
Astrov's dependence on vodka comes across as a weakness, because he often says he doesn't want any vodka and very soon after shows up with a glass. The Professor has no shame about his medicine, but none of it really seems to help him so he too is a weak character, beaten down by his illness and pain.
Questions About Drugs and Alcohol
- Vodka is strongly associated with Russia; do you think that Chekhov is trying to tell us something about the nation through Astrov's vodka consumption? What might it be?
- Only men drink in the play, while women try to stop them. What can this tell us about gender relations in pre-Revolutionary Russia?
- Why do you think that Vanya steals Astrov's morphine? What will he do with it?
Chew on This
Drugs and alcohol signify weakness in Uncle Vanya.
Rather than telling the truth, the characters who drink or take drugs seem to lie to themselves and those around them.