Proletariat Despair in Uncle Vanya

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Social class Pages: 4 (1274 words) Published: May 11, 2008
Anton Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” tells the story of a late 1800’s Russian estate tossed into turmoil by the arrival of a professor Serebryakov, a man that has retired from academia to live on his dead wife’s land. The tiresome Serebryakov, displays arrogance and tyranny to everyone around him, and only stays on the estate due to the blind admiration of his former mother-in law. His beautiful young wife, Elena, is lusted after by the other men on the estate, including the doctor Mikhail Lvovich Astrov and the manager of the estate, Ivan Petrovich Voynitzky, Uncle Vanya. Indeed, the primary conflict in the novel is between Vanya and the professor, for upon meeting the figure for which he has toiled for years, Vanya realizes that he has wasted his life laboring for a useless man. It is possible; however, to extend this conflict to a broader matter, what Karl Marx would describe as a larger class struggle between the proletariat, the class that forever labors to support the bourgeoisie, which controls the means of productions and shamelessly exploits the work of the proletariat for their own benefit. The play “Uncle Vanya” exemplifies the type of world the Marx described facing “the specter of Communism”; one where the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are on the verge of revolution.

As previously stated, the primary conflict in the book is between Professor Serebryakov, and his estate manager, Vanya. Vanya feels as though his “life is a waste”, because instead of working for his own gain and notoriety, he has spent most of his life working for the benefit of Serebryakov. In the play, Serebryakov represents the bourgeoisie, the group that owns the means of production; that oppresses the destitute working class, abuses and exploits them. Serebryakov is the wealthy, educated person for whom the estate is run; he makes himself a great burden to the workers of the estate and demands that the peasants send him the fruits of their labor. Serebryakov has...
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