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Quotes

Quote #1

MARINA: [...] Before they came we always had dinner before one o'clock, like people everywhere else, but with them here it's after six. At night the Professor reads and writes, and suddenly he rings after one in the morning… I ask you, gentlemen. For tea! Wake the servants for him, put on the samovar… What a way to live! (1.68-72)

Marina, the nyanya, is in charge of general upkeep of the home. And for her, what really makes a house a home is whether it runs on schedule. Her concern over Serebryakov and Yelena's intrusion is that they are causing everyone else to live differently, not like everyone else, and that disrupts her feeling of home.

Quote #2

YELENA ANDREYEVNA: This house is troubled. Your mother hates everything except her pamphlets and the Professor; the Professor is angry, he doesn't trust me and is frightened of you; Sonya is cross with her father, is cross with me and hasn't talked to me now for two weeks; you hate my husband and openly despise your mother; I'm angry and today I've started to cry twenty times… This house is troubled. (2.133-38)

When we think of a troubled house, we think of sagging ceilings, maybe broken windows, even a ghost infestation. But Yelena is talking about the house as a metaphor for the family. When she says it's troubled, she's talking about all the dysfunctional relationships crisscrossing under one roof.

Quote #3

YELENA ANDREYEVNA: [...] But I'm a boring incidental character… In my music and in my husband's house, in all my romances—in a word, in everything, I've always just been an incidental character. (2.460-62)

The home in this statement is like a play. This metaphor creates a play within a play. Yelena compares the family members to characters, and her husband's house to a stage, where she plays only a minor part. This partly speaks to her status as a woman: no one is interested in her as an individual person with thoughts and feelings. She's mostly just property, really. Hot and beautiful property, but still property.

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