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Themes

In Uncle Vanya, sacrifice is no noble endeavor where everyone goes home feeling good about what they've accomplished. Nope. We're talking full on, sighing martyrdom. The younger characters in this play would put your grandmother to shame with their guilt trips and the "sacrifices" that no one really asks for or wants.

The big problem, of course, is that even if it doesn't accomplish anything, these folks really have sacrificed their lives to making the estate work. They live like slaves so the Professor can be comfortable in the city, but no one gets anything out of it.

Questions About Sacrifice

  1. Why do you think Sonya is so willing to sacrifice her life and happiness to the estate?
  2. Telegin is one of the characters who defends sacrifice as a noble thing to do; how is he portrayed in the play, and what does that tell us about his ideas?
  3. Sacrifice often goes hand in hand with some kind of appreciation. Does anyone in this play ever appreciate another character's sacrifice?
  4. Do you think that sacrifices must be selfless? Or can you make a sacrifice in the hopes that you'll get something out of it? Are there any examples of either kind in the play?

Chew on This

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

Sonya and Vanya are innocents who have sacrificed their lives to Serebryakov.

Vanya believes that he has sacrificed his life to Serebryakov, but actually has sacrificed it to his own fears.

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