From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya

  

by Anton Chekhov

Uncle Vanya Theme of Passivity

The big problem all the characters have in Uncle Vanya is that they are unhappy with their lives. Some of them had big dreams that just didn't work out, like that they would be musicians, famous scholars, in love and married, or just plain rich. The reason, in the end, that they didn't get what they wanted is their fatalistic attitude toward life.

Rather than taking the bull by the horns, all of the characters just let life happen to them. They never take action and never make decisions. Instead they just see what life brings and then complain about it. If you ask Chekhov (and us, to be frank), that's no way to live.

Questions About Passivity

  1. What does the final scene have to tell us about passivity?
  2. Is there any moment in the play where, if someone would just take a direct action rather than being passive, things might turn out differently?
  3. Do you think that Serebryakov and Yelena have the same passive attitudes as the country people, or are they immune to it?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The play criticizes attitudes of passivity toward life.

In the play, the characters have no way of changing their realities.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement