Below you will find three outstanding thesis statements / paper topics on “The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “The Lady with the Dog” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot of “The Lady With the Dog” by Chekhov or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: A Psychoanalysis / Character Analysis of Gurov in “The Lady With the Dog” by Chekhov
In Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Lady with the Dog”, we are given a third-person narration that is limited to Dmitry Dmitrich Gurov’s perspective; and we are allowed access to Gurov’s thoughts and feelings to a certain extent. Read this character critically, and with consideration to his states of mind that we are given. There is boredom. There is the narcissistic attitude and behavior in his belittling the people around him and his feelings of supremacy. He exhibits a love for women, yet at points is a blatant misogynist, as seen in the discussion of his marriage: “He had first begun deceiving [his wife] long ago and he was now constantly unfaithful to her, and this was no doubt why he spoke slightingly of women, to whom he referred to as the lower race”. Decide whether or not Gurov really changes by the end of “The Lady with the Dog”. There is certainly evidence that Gurov somehow values or enjoys a double-life. Also, with his minor epiphany upon seeing himself in the mirror, has his narcissism turned to self-loathing by the end? You could judge Gurov in many different lights, especially when considering the scene at the end of “The Lady with the Dog” where he becomes cold and annoyed again when Anna cries.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Boredom at a Resort in “The Lady With the Dog”
The changing locations that combine to form the setting of Chekhov’s story are crucially tied to themes about the significance of place, time, and the memory of such things. Anna says: “‘The days pass quickly, and yet one is so bored here… People never complain of boredom in godforsaken holes like Belyev or Zhizdra, but when they get here it’s: “Oh, the dullness! Oh, the dust!”’” Notice how Gurov is quite apathetic about the time he spends with Anna at the resort, but when he gets back to Moscow, his imagination begins to work on his memory. Chekhov is definitely saying something about how one’s memory of a place and person is shaded and colored, or altered, when he is removed from them, or how love and happiness in the present (the vacation in Yalta in Gurov’s case) is somehow revealed to a person after he is removed from such feelings and such a place. More evidence might yield a different take on this topic, perhaps that Gurov and Anna have complicated things by meeting again, and that their new memories will not be as valued as the ones from Yalta.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Anna Sergeyevna as Representative of Several Themes in “The Lady With the Dog’
Make a close-reading of the character Anna Sergeyevna in Chekhov’s story “The Lady with the Dog”. What we learn about her is for the most part, only given to us through what Gurov learns and how he thinks about it. Questions should arise as to why she is attracted to Gurov in the first place—a man old enough to be her father; as well as the implication that her husband possibly knows that she is having an affair. Consider the strange lines: “… she left the town of S., telling her husband that she was going to consult a specialist on female diseases, and her husband believed her and did not believe her”. Argue what you think about Anna, and the way she is presented to us by the author. Does Chekhov give her any agency in this love affair situation, or is she somewhat a simplified and objectified memory or thing-to-be-coveted by Gurov as the story progresses and comes to a close? You also might work out the significance of the pet dog, as not being just a description of this particular character, but is also to do with dependency, loyalty, and amusement.
This list of important quotations from “The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “The Lady with the Dog” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned. All quotes from “The Lady with the Dog” contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“He had first begun deceiving her long ago and he was now constantly unfaithful to her, and this was no doubt why he spoke slightingly of women, to whom he referred as the lower race” (256)
‘The days pass quickly, and yet one is so bored here’…” (257)
“He recalled her slender, delicate neck, her fine gray eyes.
‘And yet there’s something pathetic about her,’ he thought to himself as he fell asleep” (258).
“Anna Sergeyevna did not come to him in his dreams, she accompanied him everywhere, like his shadow following him everywhere he went. When he closed his eyes, she seemed to stand before him in the flesh, still lovelier, younger, tenderer than she had really been, and looking back, he saw himself, too, as better than he had been in Yalta” (262).
“He walked on, hating the gray fence more and more, and now ready to tell himself irately that Anna Sergeyevna had forgotten him, had already, perhaps, found distraction in another—what could be more natural in a young woman who had to look at this accursed fence from morning to night?” (263)
“Every two or three months she left the town of S., telling her husband she was going to consult a specialist on female diseases, and her husband believed her and did not believe her” (265).
“She could not speak, because she was crying. Turning away, she held her handkerchief to her eyes….‘I’ll wait till she’s had her cry out,’ he thought, and sank into a chair”(266).
“He moved over and took her by the shoulders, intending to caress her, to make a joke, but suddenly he caught sight of himself in the looking-glass.
“His hair was already beginning to turn gray. It struck him as strange that he should have aged so much in the last few years, have lost so much of his looks” (266).
“Time had passed, he had met one woman after another, become intimate with each, parted with each, but had never loved. There had been all sorts of things between them, but never love.
“And only now, when he was gray-haired, had he fallen in love properly, thoroughly, for the first time in his life” (267).
Quoted from “The Lady with the Dog”  by Anton Chekhov, pp. 256-257 in Fiction 100: an Anthology of Short Fiction. Eleventh Edition. Edited by James H. Pickering. Pearson Prentice Hall: 2007. Translated by Ivy Livinov.