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Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya

by Anton Chekhov

Uncle Vanya Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Instead of following the classical three-act plot structure, Uncle Vanya is described as "Scenes from Country Life in Four Acts." How does breaking with tradition affect the audience's experience of the play?
  2. Why are all of the romantic relationships in the play frustrated? Some are blocked because one party is married, while others are just plain old cases of unrequited love. But why can't anyone get what they're looking for?
  3. Why do you think that the play is named after the figure of Vanya? Why is his relationship to Sonya highlighted (he's her uncle)?
  4. Chekhov is known for his realist style. Which elements of the play make it seem true to everyday life, and which aspects are less than believable?
  5. When Vanya tries to shoot Serebryakov, nothing really happens. What is the meaning of this anticlimax? How would the play be different if Vanya had hit his mark?
  6. If the play were to be presented today and set in your city, which elements would have to change and which could stick around?
  7. Sonya blames her lack of success with the men folk on her "plain" looks. Yelena, on the other hand, is fighting them off. Is the real difference between them just their appearance, or can you find any other clues to their different levels of attraction?
  8. The original version of this play had Vanya killing himself. How does the change in the plot change the meaning of the play?
  9. How do you think things would be different for the characters in Uncle Vanya if the Professor's first wife, Sonya's mother, hadn't died?
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