Anton Chekhov?s ?Misery? relates his readers to the awful reality of death. Iona, the main character in the story, is a ?cabdriver? who desperately tries to find someone to talk to about his son?s death. He is able to meet and talk to different people of different background because of his job but he is not able to communicate about his suffering, so in the end he tells his mare about his son?s death instead.
Misery is told in the first person?s point of view. Iona, being the central character, has flat characteristics. He does not change throughout the story. He keeps telling people of his son?s death by starting with ?This week?er?my?er?son died?(31), but still he does not receive the emotional support that he needs to recover from such a tragic event. Anton Chekhov?s style of writing uses the tone of a grown man in deep sorrow for the death of his son to communicate the sadness involved with death.
The setting of this short story is in late 1800?s to the early 1900?s era. The sentence, ?A coachman driving a carriage? and brushing the horse?s nose?(9) provides the readers the not only the era but also the background and physical surrounding of this short story. The scenery of the white wet snow and ?a coachman driving a carriage? gives the reader the time of year this setting is in. The atmosphere of ?Misery? induces the readers to feel sympathy for Iona. As indicated in paragraph 42, ?Iona?s eyes stray restlessly among the crowds moving to and fro on both sides of the street: can he not find among those thousands someone who will listen to him? …the crowds flit by?. His misery is immense, beyond all bounds?; he?s trying to communicate to the world of his immeasurable pain, ?Iona looks to see the effect produced by his work, but he sees nothing. The young man?is already asleep. He thirsts for speech.?(53), but disappointingly unable to find someone to respond effectively to this outcry for help.
The diction the author uses such as ?I? He-he! Me-er-ry gentlemen?. Here my son?s dead and I am alive?. It?s a strange thing, death has come in at the wrong door?. Instead of coming for me it went for my son?.?, illustrates the century the story is told.
Irony is also noted in this short story. The central player in ?Misery? tries to look for people to communicate his profound sorrow but what is ironic is that in the end, only the horse is able to help him release this built up feeling.
The title ?Misery? is the central idea of this short story. After reading this story, this title seems to be the most appropriate. It coincides with the theme of the story. Iona?s suffering in incommunicable but suffering must have an outlet; therefore, he tells his tragic story to his horse because the horse will listen. The horse will not be able to talk back nor will she look at her master any differently after hearing his problem.
In short, ?Misery? uses the first person narrative to tell the world that suffering is incommunicable but suffering must have an outlet. This story is sad but in the end, Iona gets his outlet, which gives this story a happy ending. The title itself already indicates the central idea of the story. The main character is flat but because of the diction the author uses, the reader is able to see what point in time the story in is and where the story takes place. The setting and diction also provides the mood of the story, which is immense sorrow. The final element to mention in this story is irony. It is ironic that Iona tries desperately in search of a human support system but no one could help him. As a result, he finds not a human to confide in but rather a horse.