Study Guide

Uncle Vanya Passivity

By Anton Chekhov

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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

The play criticizes attitudes of passivity toward life.

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

Uncle Vanya Passivity Study Group

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