Book Review: The Witch (Anton Chekhov).

I have a read couple of short stories written by Anton Chekhov in the past couple of years but have never reviewed any here before this one. The Witch by Anton Chekhov is a short story. The story follows an unhappily married couple during a horrible snowstorm; they play hosts to the postman and his driver.

The story is focused on the wife Raissa and her husband Savely. As the story begins, Savely is accusing Raissa of practicing witchcraft. He believes she is the reason for young men disappearing. The descriptions begin in a way that makes it clear that these two are unhappy with each other. In the beginning, she tries to dismiss him calmly but he keeps going on and on about her being a witch. She loses her patience with him. When the postman and his driver show up at their hut because they lost their way during the storm, Raissa is attracted to the postman. Savely again accuses her of using witchcraft on the postman.

Savely is a sexton, they live in a hut next to the church. Raissa’s father was the sexton of the same church. Before he died, he hastily wants to marry Raissa off to somebody from Consistory. This is how she married Savely, and they inherited the hut, but they are poor. It becomes evident that both are unhappy. Raissa feels stuck in a loveless marriage, and by the end, realizes that she could have had a better life if she hadn’t married Savely. In the end, Savely, on the other hand, becomes sure of her being a witch and being able to control the storm. Drawn to her sexual evilness,  he touches her plaid, then her neck, and she kicks him.

Anton Chekhov used imagery from the get-go to set up the atmosphere of the story. Even the similes are used, setting a certain tone for the descriptions throughout the story. The storm and darkness allude to the confusion, frustration, and unsettling feelings that Raissa is dealing with at the moment. It seems as if Savely should consider himself lucky; he married a beautiful girl, and inherited a house and a job. He is constantly rude and cruel towards her for no apparent reason. There seem to be hints of infidelity on Raissa’s part in the past, and Savely keeps accusing her of bewitching men, so he doesn’t have to accept that he has shortcomings too.

The writing and the narration of the story are pretty simple to follow; it is filled with imagery and similes that create and set up the atmosphere of the story really well. It does seem like the parts describing storms are from Savely’s perspective because they are slightly exaggerated. It makes perfect sense since he thinks that Raissa is controlling it. I liked reading the story.

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Author: Aarti Athavle

Daydreamer - Writer - Bibliophile

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