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Lomov’s Arrival with a Proposal of Marriage:
Chubukov is sitting in his drawing room. Lomov, a wealthy neighbour of Chubukov arrives. He is wearing a dress-jacket and white gloves. Chubukov welcomes him. He wonders why Lomov is in his formal evening dress. Lomov says that he has come to trouble Chubukov with a request. Chubukov becomes cautious. He thinks that perhaps Lomov has come to borrow money. He is in no mood to help him. Lomov is excited. He fails to come to the point. Chubukov asks him not to beat about the bush. He should come to the point. Lomov at last tells him the purpose of his visit. He tells that he has come to ask the hand of Chubukov’s daughter, Natalya Stepanovna. Chubukov is extremely happy. He embraces and kisses Lomov. He tells that it has been his long desire to see Lomov and Natalya married together. Chubukov assures Lomov that Natalya too will give her consent. She is in love. She is like a love-sick cat.
Lomov and Natalya Left Alone:
Chubukov goes out. Lomov and Natalya are left alone. Lomov feels very cold and starts trembling. He hesitates and can’t start any meaningful conversation with Natalya. He realises that Natalya is a good housekeeper. She is good-looking and educated. He is thirty-five years old. It is a critical age. He wants to lead a regular and peaceful married life. Lomov is very excited. He is easily upset. His lips tremble. He jumps up like a lunatic.
Quarrel Over Oxen Meadows:
Lomov tells her that he has the privilege of knowing her family. The Lomovs and the Chubukovs have always had the most friendly relations. He tells that his Oxen Meadows touch her birchwoods. Natalya contests it. She says that Oxen Meadows belong to them. Lomov says that she is mistaken. She can see the documents. Natalya opposes Lomov and claims that Oxen Meadows belong to them. The land is not worth more than 300 roubles. But it is unfair to say that it belongs to Lomov. Lomov is ready to provide the documents to prove his point. Lomov says that he is acting on principle. If she likes, he will make her a present of Oxen Meadows. Natalya opposes it by saying that the land belongs to her. Lomov is only a landgrabber. She threatens to send her mowers that very day. Lomov threatens to beat them away. Then they start shouting loudly at each other. Lomov’s palpitation quickens.
Chubukov Adds Fuel to the Fire:
Chubukov enters and sides with his daughter. He claims that the Meadows belong to them. He is ready to give the Meadows to the peasants than to him. Natalya asks her father to send the mowers. Lomov threatens to go to the court. Lomov accuses Chubukov’s grandfather of doing embezzlement. Chubukov accuses Lomov’s grandfather of being a drunkard.
Natalya Knows of the Marriage Proposal:
Lomov is excited. His heart aches. His feet numb. Chubukov calls Lomov a malicious, double faced intriguer. Natalya is surprised when Chubukov tells her that Lomov has come with a proposal of marriage. She blames her father of not telling it before. She starts shouting. ‘‘Bring him back! Back!’’ Chubukov is surprised at this change in her. She threatens her father that she will die if Lomov is not brought back.
Lomov Enters and Picks up Another Quarrel with Natalya:
Lomov enters. His heart is palpitating awfully. His feet have gone to sleep. Chubukov asks Lomov to forgive them. He accepts that Oxen Meadows belong to him. They were in the wrong. Then they start quarrelling over their dogs—Squeezer and Guess. Natalya calls Squeezer a thoroughbred animal. Lomov says that his dog Guess is better than Squeezer. Chubukov enters again. Natalya asks her father to tell Lomov that his dog Guess is far inferior to her dog Squeeze. Chubukov taunts Lomov by says that Guess is always suffering from palpitations and that he can’t be a good hunter. They start quarrelling again. Lomov calls Chubukov an intriguer. Chubukov retorts and calls him ‘‘Pup’’. Lomov calls him ‘‘old rat! Jesuit!’’
Lomov Falls into Armchair:
Lomov has always some problem with his body. He is overexcited. He falls into an armchair. He wants a doctor to be called at once. Natalya starts crying that Lomov is dead. Chubukov is alarmed. He lifts a tumbler of water to Lomov’s mouth. Lomov doesn’t drink the water. Chubukov threatens to cut his throat with a knife or shoot himself with a pistol. Chubukov doesn’t want to miss the opportunity. He asks ‘‘Hurry up and get married!’’ He wants Lomov and Natalya to live him in peace. He is ready to give them his blessing. Natalya feels happy to find Lomov still alive. Chubukov asks her to kiss Lomov at once. Lomov and Natalya kiss each other. He feels relieved. Natalya and Lomov again start quarrelling over Oxen Meadows and their dogs Squeezer and Guess. So, they begin their married life with a new quarrel.
‘The Proposal’ is a one–act play. Actually, it is a farce written by Anton Chekhov in 1888–89. The play is
about the tendency of wealthy families to seek matrimonial ties. The real purpose is to increase their estates and landed properties. Ivan Lomov was a wealthy neighbour of another wealthy farmer, Stepan Chubukov. Lomov comes to seek the hand of Chubukov’s twenty–five–year–old daughter, Natalya. ‘Lomov, Chubukov and Natalya’–all three are quarrelsome people. They quarrel over petty or small issues. Each one of them has a claim over a particular piece of land. They also quarrel over their dogs. Amidst this quarrelling, they completely forget the real issue — the marriage proposal. But good sense prevails in the end. Economic good sense ensures that the proposal is made. Chubukov doesn’t want to miss the opportunity. He puts his daughter’s hand into Lomov’s hands. He doesn’t waste any time and blesses them. However, old habits die hard. The newly married couple starts their married life with a fresh quarrel.
The play, ‘The proposal’, focuses on the cold approach to marriage that had been common in nineteenthcentury Russia, especially among the wealthy. Anton Chekov satirises the wealthy, money-minded people of the times to whom the consideration of wealth of the prospective bride, appealed more than love and compatibility between the bride and groom.
‘The Proposal’ is a one act play that begins with a young man, Lomov presenting a marriage proposal
to his neighbour’s daughter. Before he could actually convey it to the girl, they enter into an argument
about Oxen Meadows. Chubukov, the girl’s father, also joins the heated discussion. After they end this,
they enter into another argument about their dogs and which one is better than the other. In the midst
of all this, proposal gets forgotten until Lomov falls off due to his palpitations, and Chubukov instantly
puts her hands in Lomov’s hand. Unfortunately, the quarrel still continues.
Justification of the Title
The play is about a marriage proposal made by the rich Ivan Lomov to Natalya, who is the daughter of
Chubukov, a wealthy landowner. The play farcically enacts how the proposal is made amidst quarrelling and name-calling. In fact, at one point of time, it is even in danger of being revoked because of the
animosity between Natalya and Ivan. But when Natalya comes to know of Ivan’s intention to marry her,
her good economic sense takes over and she accepts his proposal most wholeheartedly. The proposal is
prompted not by any romantic feelings but by sound economic sense as the marriage alliance will bring
more wealth to both the families.
Key Points (Train of Thoughts)
• Lomov and Chubukov are both neighbours and landlords.
• Lomov comes to Chubukov with a proposal of marriage with Chubukov’s daughter, Natalya.
• He is 35 and wants to lead a peaceful married life.
• He thinks that Natalya is an excellent housekeeper, and not bad-looking.
• Lomov is excited and forgets the purpose of his visit.
• He starts quarrelling with Natalya over Oxen Meadows.
• Natalya opposes Lomov and claims that Oxen Meadows belong to them.
• Lomov is ready to show the documents to prove his ownership of Oxen Meadows.
• Chubukov enters and adds fuel to the fire.
• Chubukov sides with his daughter, Natalya.
• Lomov threatens to go to the court.
• They quarrel and indulge in abusing and insulting each other.
• Natalya comes to know that Lomov has come there with a proposal of marriage.
• She blames her father for not telling her about it before.
• She threatens to die if Chubukov doesn’t bring Lomov back.
• Lomov returns and now they pick up a new quarrel over their dogs.
• Natalya says that her dog, Squeezer is far superior to Lomov’s dog, Guess.
• Lomov gets excited and his palpitations start rising.
• He falls down in the armchair and loses his consciousness.
• Chubukov is confused and threatens to cut his throat or shoot himself.
• Chubukov doesn’t want to miss this opportunity.
• He makes them embrace and kiss each other.
• Chubukov blesses them a happy married life.
Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov:
Lomov was a young, unmarried man of thirty-five. He was anxious to get married as he had already reached a critical age. So he decided to propose a girl in the neighbourhood. Her name was Natalya. Lomov thought that she was a good housekeeper and was not bad looking. He was a funny character. He suffer from palpitations. When Lomov came to propose Natalya, he started quarrelling over trifles. He even abused Natalya and her father, Chubukov while quarrelling.
Natalya is talkative and short-tempered. She is very much concerned about her family’s honour and land. She is argumentative also. She argues with Lomov about the ownership of Oxen Meadows and the superiority of her dog, Squeezer. She is very keen to get married.
Stepan Stepanovitch Chubukov:
Stepan Stepanovitch Chubukov is a landowner. He has a helping nature towards Lomov. He loves his daughter and plays a role of a good father. He is in search of a good match for his daughter. He is a good selector of words. He calls Lomov my angel, treasure, etc. This shows his cunningness. When Chubukov finds Lomov fighting with Natalya, he immediately changes and starts to support his daughter. He uses many ill words for Lomov and tells him to leave his house.