Isolation and “otherness”

The motif of isolation and “otherness” is a common one in art and literature.

Select a text from your own reading or viewing that focuses on a character who is isolated and longs for another place or connection where he or she can feel a sense of belonging.

Write an essay analyzing this theme and showing how it is developed.

Art is coming face to face with yourself

Select one of the following quotations and write an essay explaining how one of the texts you have studied does or does not support the quote.

“Art is coming face to face with yourself.” – Jackson Pollock

“When I reflect that the task which the artist implicitly sets himself is to overthrow existing values, to make of the chaos about him an order which is his own, to sow strife and ferment so that by the emotional release those who are dead may be restored to life, then it is that I run with joy to the great and imperfect ones, their confusion nourishes me, their stuttering is like divine music to my ears.” – Henry Miller

“The subject matter of art is life, life as it actually is; but the function of art is to make life better.” – George Santayana

A Marriage Proposal

Read Anton Chekhov’s A Marriage Proposal.

Meaning

  1. Identify the object of Chekhov’s satire in this play. Support your interpretation with a specific reference to the text.
  2. Why do you think Chekhov included the character to Chubukov in the play? What functioin does he serve?

Form and Style

  1. The play has a strong emotional tone. Explain how both the structure of the play and the punctuation of the text contribute to the emotional tone. Cite specific examples to support your answer.
  2. Melodrama is defined s “a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions.” Comment on how Chekhov uses melodramatic techniques to create humor in this piece.

Exploring Content

  1. What information about life in Czarist Russia do we learn from this script? Explain how this information creates the context of the drama in the play.

Creative Extension

  1. Choose a segment of the play and rewrite it in a narrative (short story) form. Be prepared to discuss changes you needed to make to transpose one form to another.
  2. Prepare a readers’ theatre presentation of a portion of the script. Focus on capturing the emotional tension created through the dialogue. Record your presentation (audio or video) and share it.
  3. Read Chekhov’s monologue On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco. Using this monologue as a model, write a script for a monologue given by one of the characters from A Marriage Proposal: Chubukov on the dangers of domestic champagne, Natalya on the dangers faced by women at harvest, or Lomov on the dangers of modern fabrics … and so on and so forth and all that.

Hunches

A hunch is a feeling or impression that something is about to happen. Authors sometimes use a character’s hunches to create suspense or to tie together a group of events. For example, in “Stains,” the mother has been afraid for her son “for a long time. She realized that when the doorbell rang at 4 a.m.”

Write a story about a character’s hunches. Try to use this hunch not only to create suspense, but to help explain the action that comes at the end of the story.