The Proposal By Anton Chekov

Characters 

Stepan Stepanovitch Chubukov : a landowner

Natalya Stepanovna : his daughter , twenty-five years old

Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov : a neighbour of Chubukov, a large and hearty, but very suspicious, landowner

A drawing-room in Chubukov’s house.

Lomov enters, wearing a dress-jacket and white gloves. Chubukov rises to meet him.

CHUBUKOV: My dear fellow, whom do I see! Ivan Vassilevitch! I am extremely glad! [Squeezes his hand] Now this is a surprise, my darling…..How are you?

LOMOV :  Thank you. And how may you be getting on?

CHUBUKOV : We just get along somehow, my angel, thanks to your prayers, and so on. Sit down, please do….Now, you know, you shouldn’t forget all about your neighbours, my darling. My dear fellow, why are you so formal in your get-up!Evening dress, gloves, and so on. Can you be going anywhere, my treasure?

LOMOV : No. I’ve come only to see you, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch.

CHUBUKOV : Then  why are you in evening dress, my precious? As if you’re paying a New Year’s Eve visit!

LOMOV : Well, you see, it’s like this. [Takes his arm] I’ve come to you, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch, to trouble you with a request. Not once or twice have I already had the privilege of applying to you for help, and you have always, so to speak…..I must ask your pardon, I am getting excited. I shall drink some water, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch.
[Drinks.]

CHUBUKOV : [aside] He’s come to borrow money. Shan’t give him any! [aloud] What is it, my beauty?

LOMOV : You see, Honoured Stepanitch….I get pardon Stepan Honouritch… I mean…In short, you alone can help me, though I  don’t deserve it, of course….and haven’t any right to count on your assistance…..

CHUBUKOV : On, don’t go round and round it, darling! Spit it out! Well?

LOMOV : One moment….. this very minute.  The fact is I’ve come to ask the hand of your daughter, Natalya Stepanovna, in marriage.

CHUBUKOV : [joyfully] By Jove! Ivan Vassilevitch! Say it again – I didn’t hear it all!

LOMOV : I have the honour to ask….

CHUBUKOV : [interrupting] My dear fellow….I’m so glad, and so on….Yes, indeed, and all that sort of thing. [Embraces and kisses Lomov] I’ve been hoping for it for a long time. It’s been my continual desire. [Shed a tear] And I’ve always loved you, my angel, as if you were my own son. My God give you both – His help and His love and so on, and so much hope…..What am I behaving in this idiotic way for? I’m off my balance with joy, absolutely off my balance! Oh, with all my soul….I’ll go and call Natasha, and all that.

LOMOV : [greatly moved] Honoured Stepan Stepanovitch, do you think I may count on her consent?

CHUBUKOV : Why, of course, my darling, and….as if she won’t consent! She’s in love; egad, she’s like a lovesick cat, and so on. Shan’t be long!
[Exit.]

LOMOV : It’s cold…..I’m trembling all over, just as if I’d got an examination before me. The great thing is, I must have my mind made up. If I give myself time to think to hesitate, to talk a lot, to look for an ideal, or for real love, then I’ll never get married. Brr…It’s cold! Natalya Stepanovna is an excellent housekeeper, not  bad-looking, well educated. What more do I want? But I’m getting a noise in my ears from excitement. [Drinks] And it’s impossible for me not to marry. In the first place, I’m already 35 – a critical age , so to speak. In the second place, I ought to lead a quiet and regular life. I suffer from palpitations, I’m excitable and always getting awfully upset; at this very moment my lips are trembling, and there’s a twitch in my right eyebrow. But the very worst of all is the way I sleep. I no sooner get into bed and begin to go off, when suddenly something get into bed and begin to go off, when suddenly something in my left side gives a pull, and I can feel it in my shoulder and head………..I jump up like a lunatic, walk about a bit and lie down again, but as soon as I begin to get off to sleep there’s another pull! And this may happen twenty times….[Natalya Stepanovna comes in.]

NATALYA : Well, there! It’s you, and papa said, “Go: there’s a merchant come for his goods.” How do you do, Ivan Vassilevitch?

LOMOV : How do you do, honoured Natalya Stepanovna?

NATALYA : You must excuse my apron and neglige. We’re shelling peas for drying. Why haven’t you been here for such a long time? Sit down…..[They seat themselves.] Won’t you have some lunch?

LOMOV : No, thank you, I’ve had some already.

NATALYA : Then smoke. Here are the matches. The weather is splendid now, but yesterday it was so wet that the workmen didn’t do anything all day. How much hay have you stacked? Just think, I felt greedy and had a whole field cut, and now I’m not at all pleased about it because I’m afraid my hay may rot. I ought to have waited a bit. But what’s this? Why, you’re in evening dress! Well, I never! Are you going to a ball or what? Though I must say you look better……Tell me, why are you got up like that?

LOMOV : [excited] You see ,honoured Natalya Stepanovna…the fact is, I’ve made up my mind to ask you to hear me out…..Of course you’ll be surprised and perhaps even angry, but a ………[aside] It’s awfully cold!

NATALYA : What’s the matter?[pause] Well?

LOMOV : I shall try to be brief. You must know, honoured Natalya Stepanovna, that I have long, since my childhood, in fact, had the privilege of knowing your family. My late aunt and her husband, from whom, as you know, I inherited my land, always had the greatest respect for your father and your late mother. The Lomovs and the Chubukovs have always had the most friendly, and I might almost say the most affectionate, regard for each other. And, as you know, my land is a near neighbour of yours. You will remember that my Oxen Meadows touch your birchwoods.

NATALYA : Excuse me interrupting you. You say, “my Oxen Meadows”. But are they yours?

LOMOV : Yes, mine.

NATALYA : What are  you talking about? Oxen Meadows are ours, not yours!

LOMOV : No, it isn’t at all like that! Both grandfather and great grandfather reckoned that their land extended to Burnt Marsh – which means that Oxen Meadows were ours. I don’t see what there is to argue about. It’s simply silly!

I’ll show you the documents. Natalya Stepanovna!

NATALYA : No, you’re simply joking, or making fun of me. What a surprise! We’ve had the land for nearly three hundred years, and then we’re suddenly told that it isn’t ours! Ivan Vassilevitch, I can hardly believe my own ears. These Meadows aren’t worth much to me. They only come to five dessiatins, and we are worth perhaps 300 roubles, but I can’t stand unfairness. Say what you will, I can’t stand unfairness.

LOMOV : Hear me out, I implore you! The peasants of your father’s grandfather, as I have already had the honour of explaining to you, used to bake bricks for my aunt’s grandmother. Now my aunt’s grandmother, wishing to make them a pleasant….

NATALYA : I can’t make head or tail of all this about aunts and grandfathers and grandmothers. The Meadows are ours, that’s all.

LOMOV : Mine.

NATALYA : Ours! You can go on providing if for two days on end, you can go and put on fifteen dress jackets, but I tell you they’re ours, ours, ours! I don’t want anything of yours and I don’t want to give anything of mine. So there!

LOMOV : Natalya Stepanovna, I don’t want the Meadows, but I am acting on principle. If you like, I’ll make you a present of them.

NATALYA : I can make you a present of them myself, because they’re mine! Your behaviour, Ivan Vassilevitch, is strange, to say the least! Up to his we have always thought of you as a good neighbour, a friend; last year we lent you our threshing-machine, although on that account we had to put off our own threshing till November, but you behave to us as if we were gypsies. Giving me my own land, indeed! No, really, that’s not at all neighbourly! In my opinion, it’s even impudent, if you want to know.

LOMOV : Then you make out that I’m a landgrabber? Madam, never in my life have I grabbed anybody else’s land and I shan’t allow anybody to accuse me of having done so. [Quickly steps to the carafe and drinks more water] Oxen Meadows are mine!

NATALYA : It’s not true, they’re ours!

LOMOV : Mine!

NATALYA : It’s not true! I’ll prove it! I’ll send my mowers out to the Meadows this very day!

LOMOV : What?

NATALYA : My mowers will be there this very day!

LOMOV : I’ll give it to them in the neck!

NATALYA : You dare!

LOMOV : [Clutches at his heart] Oxen Meadows are mine! You understand? Mine!

NATALYA : Please don’t shout! You can shout yourself hoarse in your own house but here I must ask you to restrain yourself!

LOMOV : If it wasn’t , madam, for this awful, excruciating palpitation, if my whole inside wasn’t upset. I’d talk to you in a different way! [Yells] Oxen Meadows are mine!

NATALYA : Ours!

LOMOV : Mine!

NATALYA : Ours!

LOMOV : Mine!

[Enter Chubukov]

CHUBUKOV : What’s the matter? What are you shouting for?

NATALYA : Papa, please tell this gentleman who owns Oxen Meadows, we or he?

CHUBUKOV : [to Lomov] Darling, the Meadows are ours!

LOMOV : But, please, Stepan Stepanovitch, how can they be yours? Do be a reasonable man! My aunt’s grandmother gave the Meadows for the temporary and free use of your grandfather’s peasants. The peasants used the land for forty years and got accustomed to it as if it was their own, when it happened that….

CHUBUKOV : Excuse me my precious. you forget just this, that the peasants didn’t pay your grandmother and all that, because the Meadows were in dispute, and so on. And now everybody knows that they’re ours. It means that you haven’t seen the plan.

LOMOV : I’ll prove that they’re mine!

CHUBUKOV : You won’t prove it, my darling –

LOMOV : I shall

CHUBUKOV : Dear one, why yell like that? You won’t prove anything just by yelling. I don’t want anything of yours, and don’t intend to give up what I have. Why should I? And you know, my beloved, that if you propose to go on arguing about it, I’d much sooner give up the Meadows to the peasants than to you. There!

LOMOV : I don’t understand! How have you the right to give away somebody else’s property?

CHUBUKOV : You may take it that I know whether I have the right or not. Because, young man, I’m not used to being spoken to in that tone of voice, and so on. I, young man, am twice your age, and ask you to speak to me without agitating yourself, and all that.

LOMOV : No, you just think I’m a fool and want to have me on! You call my land yours, and then you want me to talk to you calmly and politely! Good neighbours don’t behave like that, Stepan Stepanovitch! You’re not a neighbour, you’re a grabber!

CHUBUKOV : What’s that? What did you say?

NATALYA : Papa, send the mowers out to the Meadows at once!

CHUBUKOV : What did you say sir?

NATALYA : Oxen Meadows are ours, and I shan’t give them up, shan’t give them up, shan’t give them up!

LOMOV : We’ll see! I’ll have the matter taken to court, and then I’ll show you!

CHUBUKOV : To court? You can take it to court, and all that! You can! I know you; you’re just on the look-out for a chance to go court, and all that. You pettifogger! All your people were like that! All of them!

LOMOV : Never mind about my people! The Lomovs have all been honourable people, and not one has even been tried for embezzlement, like your grandfather!

CHUBUKOV : You Lomovs have lunacy in your family, all of you!

NATALYA : All, all, all!

CHUBUKOV : Your grandfather was a drunkard, and your younger aunt, Nastasya Mihailovna, ran away with an architect, and so on……….

LOMOV : And your mother was hump-backed .[Clutches at his heart] Something pulling in my side….. My head………. Help! Water!

CHUBUKOV : Your father was a guzzling gambler!

NATALYA : And there haven’t been many backbiters to equal your aunt!

CHUBUKOV : My left foot has gone to sleep….. You’re an intriguer….Oh, my heart! And it’s an open secret that before the last elections your bri…..I can see stars…….. Where’s my hat?

NATALYA : It’s low! It’s dishonest! It’s mean!

CHUBUKOV : And you’re just as malicious, doublefaced intriguer! Yes!

LOMOV : Here’s my hat. My heart! Which way? Where’s the door? Oh I think I’m dying! My foot’s quite numb……[Goes to the door.]

CHUBUKOV : [following him] And don’t set foot in my house again!

NATALYA : Take it to court! We’ll see!

[Lomov staggers out.]

CHUBUKOV : Devil take him! [Walks about in excitement.]

NATALYA : What a rascal! What trust can one have in one’s neighbours after that!

CHUBUKOV : The villain! The scarecrow!

NATALYA : The monster! First he takes our land and then he has the impudence to abuse us.

CHUBUKOV : And that blind hen, yes, that turnip-ghost has the confounded cheek to make a proposal, and so on! What? A proposal!

NATALYA : What proposal?

CHUBUKOV : Why, he came here to propose to you.

NATALYA : To propose? To me? Why didn’t you tell me so before?

CHUBUKOV : So he dresses up in evening clothes. The stuffed sausage! The wizen-faced frump!

NATALYA : To propose to me? [Falls into an easy-chair and wails] Bring him back! Ah! Bring him here.

CHUBUKOV : Bring whom here?

NATALAYA : Quick, quick! I’m ill Fetch him! [Hysterics.]

CHUBUKOV : What’s that? What’s the matter with you? [Clutches at his head] Oh, unhappy man that I am! I shoot myself! I’ll hang myself! We’ve done for her!

NATALYA : I’m dying! Fetch him!

CHUBUKOV : Tfoo! At once. Don’t yell! [Runs out. A pause.]

NATALYA : [Natalya Stepanovna wails.] What have they done to me? Fetch him back! Fetch him!

[A pause. Chubukov runs in.]

CHUBUKOV : He’s coming, and so on, devil take him! Ouf! Talk to him yourself; I don’t want to……..

NATALYA : [wails] Fetch him!

CHUBUKOV : [yells] He’s coming, I tell you. Oh, what a burden, Lord, to be the father of a grown-up daughter! I’ll cut my throat I will, indeed! We cursed him, abused him, drove him out; and it’s all you…..you!

NATALYA : No, it was you!

CHUBUKOV : I tell you it’s not my fault. [Lomov appears at the door] Now talk to him yourself. [Exit.]

LOMOV : [Lomov enters, exhausted.] My heart’s palpitating awfully. My foot’s gone to sleep. There’s something that keeps pulling in my side……..

NATALYA : Forgive us, Ivan Vassilevitch, we were all a little heated. I remember now: Oxen Meadows……really are yours.

LOMOV : My heart’s beating awfully. My Meadows……My eyebrows are both twitching…….

NATALYA : The Meadows are yours, yes, yours. Do sit down. [They sit] We were wrong.

LOMOV : I did it on principle. My land is worth little to me, but the principle………….

NATALYA : Yes, the principle, just so. Now let’s talk of something else.

LOMOV : The more so as I have evidence. My aunt’s grandmother gave the land to your father’s grandfather’s peasants……..

NATALYA : Yes, yes, let that pass. [aside] I wish I knew how to get him started. [aloud] Are you going to start shooting soon?

LOMOV : I’m thinking of having a go at the blackcock, honoured Natalya Stepanovna, after the harvest. Oh, have you heard? Just think, what a misfortune I’ve had! My dog Guess, who you know, has gone lame.

NATALYA : What a pity! Why?

LOMOV : I don’t know. Must have got his leg twisted or bitten by some other dog. [sighs] My very best dog, to say nothing of the expense. I gave Mironov 125 roubles for him.

NATALYA : It was too much, Ivan Vassilevitch.

LOMOV : I think it was very cheap. He’s a first-rate dog.

NATALYA : Papa gave me 85 roubles for his Squeezer, and Squeezer is heaps better than Guess!

LOMOV : Sqeezer better than Guess? What an idea! [laughs] Squeezer better than Guess!

NATALYA : Of course he’s better! Of course, Squeezer is young, he may develop a bit, but on points and pedigree he’s better than anything that even Volchanetsky has got.

LOMOV : Excuse me, Natalya Stepanovna, but you forget that he is overshot, and an overshot always means the dog is a bad hunter!

NATALYA : Overshot, is he? The first time I heart it!

LOMOV : I assure you that his lower jaw is shorter than the upper.

NATALYA : Have you measured?

LOMOV : Yes. He’s all right at following, of course, but if you want to get hold of anything…..

NATALYA : In the first place, our Squeezer is a thoroughbred animal, the son of Harness and Chisels while there’s no getting at the pedigree of your dog at all. He’s old and as ugly as a worn-out cab-horse.

LOMOV : He is old, but I wouldn’t take five Squeezers for him. Why, how can you? Guess is a dog; as for Squeezers, well, it’s too funny to argue. Anybody you like has a dog as good as Squezeer …..you may find them under every bush almost. Twenty-five roubles would be a handsome price to pay for him.

NATALYA : There is some demon of contradiction in you today, Ivan Vassilevitch. First you pretend that the Meadows are yours; now, that Guess is better than Squeezer. I don’t like people who don’t say what they mean, because you know perfectly well that Sqeezer is a hunded times better than your silly Guess. Why do you want to say he isn’t?

LOMOV : I see, Natalya Stepanovna, that you consider me either blind or a fool. You must realise that Squeezer is overshot!

NATALYA : It’s not true.

LOMOV : He is!

NATALYA : It’s not true!

LOMOV : Why shout madam?

NATALYA : Why talk rot? It’s awful! It’s time your Guess was shot, and you compare him with Squeezer!

LOMOV : Excuse me, I cannot continue this discussion, my heart is palpitating.

NATALYA : I’ve noticed that those hunters argue most who know least.

LOMOV : Madam, please be silent. My heart is going to pieces. [shouts] Shut up!

NATALYA : I shan’t shut up until you acknowledge that Squeezer is a hundred time better than Guess!

LOMOV : A hundred times worse! Be hanged to your Squeezer! His head…. eyes…… shoulder……..

NATALYA : There’s no need to hand your silly Guess; he’s half-dead already!

LOMOV : [weeps] Shut up! My heart’s bursting!

NATALYA : I shan’t shut up.

[Enter Chubukov.]

CHUBUKOV : What’s the matter now?

NATALYA : Stepan Stepanovitch, I implore you to tell me just one thing: is your Squeezer overshot or not? Yes or no?

CHUBUKOV : And suppose he is? What does it matter? He’s the best dog in the district for all that, and so on.

LOMOV : But isn’t my Guess better? Relly, now?

CHUBUKOV : Don’t excite yourself, my precious one. Allow me. Your Guess certainly has his good points. He’s purebred, firm on his feet, has well-sprung ribs, and all that. But, my dear man, if you want to know the truth, that dog has two defects: he’s old and he’s short in the muzzle.

LOMOV : Excuse me, my heart……Let’s take the facts. You will remember that on the Marusinsky hunt my Guess ran neck-and-neck with the Count’s dog, while your Squeezer was left a whole verst behind.

CHUBUKOV : He got left behind because the Count’s whipper-in hit him with his wip.

LOMOV : And with good reason. The dogs are running after a fox, when Squeezer goes and starts worrying a sheep!

CHUBUKOV : It’s not true! My dear fellow, I’m very liable to lose my temper, and so, just because of that, let’s stop arguing. You started because eveybody is always jealous of everybody else’s dogs. Yes, we’re all like that! You too, sir, aren’t blameless! You no sooner begin with this, that and the other, and all that……I remember everything!

LOMOV : I remember too!

CHUBUKOV : [teasting him] I remember, too! What do you remember?

LOMOV : My heart…….my foot’s gone to sleep. I can’t……..

NATALYA : [teasing] My heart! What sort of a hunter are you? You ought to go and lie on the kitchen over and catch black beetles, not go after foxes! My heart!

CHUBUKOV : Yes, really, what sort of a hunter are you, anyway? You ought to sit at home with your palpitations, and not go tracking animals. You could go hunting, but you only go to argue with people and interfere with their dogs and so on. Let’s change the subject in case I lose my temper. You’re not a hunter at all, anyway!

LOMOV : And are you a hunter? You only go hunting to get in with the Count and to intrigue. Oh, my heart! You’re an intriguer!

CHUBUKOV : What? I am an intriguer? [shouts] Shut up!

LOMOV : Intriguer!

CHUBUKOV : Boy! Pup!

LOMOV : Old rat! Jesuit!

CHUBUKOV : Shut up or I’ll shoot you like a partridge! You fool!

LOMOV : Everybody knows that- oh, my heart! – your late wife used to beat you…..My feet……temples………..sparks……….I fall, I fall!

CHUBUKOV : And you’re under the slipper of your house-keeper!

LOMOV : There, there, there… my heart’s burst! My shoulders come off! Where’s my shoulder? I die. [Falls into an armchair] A doctor!

CHUBUKOV : Boy! Milksop! Fool! I’m sick! [Drinks water] Sick!

NATALYA : What sort of a hunter are you? You can’t even sit on a horse! [To her father] Papa, what’s the matter with him? Papa! Look, Papa! [screams] Ivan Vassilevitch! He’s dead!

CHUBUKOV : I’m sick! I can’t breathe! Air!

NATALYA : He’s dead. [Pulls Lomov’s sleeve] Ivan Vassilevitch! Ivan Vassilevitch! What have you done to me? He’s dead. [Falls into an armchair] A doctor, a doctor! [Hysterics]

CHUBUKOV : Oh! What is it? What’s the matter?

NATALYA : [wails] He’s dead…….dead!

CHUBUKOV : Who’s dead? [Looks at Lomov] So he is! My word! Water! A doctor! [Lifts a tumbler at Lomov’s mouth] Drink this! No, he doesn’t drink. It means he’s dead, and all that. I’m the most unhapp of men! Why don’t I put a bullet into my brain? Why haven’t I cut my throat yet? What am I waiting for? Give me a knife! Give me a pistol! [Lomov moves] He seems to be coming around. Drink some water! That’s right.

LOMOV : I see stars……mist……. where am I?

CHUBUKOV : Hurry up and get married and – well, to the dvil with you! She’s willing! [He puts Lomov’s hand into his daughter’s ] She’s willing and all that. I give you my blessings and so on. Only leave me in peace!

LOMOV : [getting up] Eh? What? To Whom?

CHUBUKOV : She’s willing! Well? Kiss and be damned to you!

NATALYA : [wails] He’s alive…..Yes, yes, I’m willing.

CHUBUKOV : Kiss each other!

LOMOV : Eh? Kiss whom? [They kiss] Very nice, too. Excuse me, what’s it all about? Oh, now I understand…. my heart……. stars….. I’m happy. Natalya Stepanovna….. [Kisses her hand] My foot’s gone to sleep.

NATALYA : I…. I’m happy too…….

CHUBUKOV : What a wright off my shoulders, ouf!

NATALYA : But, still you will admit now that Guess is worse than Squeezer.

LOMOV : Better!

CHUBUKOV : Well, that’s a way to start your family bliss! Have some champagne!

LOMOV : He’s better!

NATALYA : Worse! Worse! Worse!

CHUBUKOV : [trying to short her down] Champagne! Champagne!

CURTAIN

The Proposal Summary

Lomov at Chubukov’s House

The play begins with the scene stet in Chubukov’s house. Lomov comes there and meets Chubukov. Chubukov is extremely happy to meet him. He asks him to sit down and also enquires why he was wearing an evening dress.

Lomov tells him that he has come there with a purpose. He tells him that he wants to request him about something. Suddenly he gets excited. Chubukov feels that he must have come to borrow money from him. Lomov starts to speak and talks about random things. Finally, he tells Chubukov that he has come there to ask for Natalya’s hand. Chubukov gets excited at hearing this.

Chubukov’s Reaction to the Proposal

Chubukov gets so happy that he starts to behave idiotically. He hugs Lomov and kisses him. Lomov tells Chubukov he wants his consent for the marriage. Chubukov tells him that he was always hoping that he would come to ask for Natalya’s hand.

Lomov Thinks About Natalya and his Life

Lomov starts trembling due to overexcitement. He says that if he would have looked for a perfect partner he would have never got one and would have remained unmarried. He feels that Natalya is a good housekeeper. He says that she is not bad-looking and is very well educated. He feels he is already too old to get married and now he should lead a quiet and regular life. He starts to jump like a mad person.

Talk Between Lomov and Natalya

Natalya comes and asks Lomov why he had not come there for a long tie. She informs Lomov about the harvest. She asks him why he was dressed in an evening dress and enquired if he was going to a ball.

Before Lomov told Natalya his purpose for the visit, they were off the point. He starts telling her that he has known his family for a very long time. He also tells her how he inherited his land and how he respects her father. He tells Natalya that his Oxen Meadows touch Natalya’s Birchwood. On hearing this, Natalya says that the Oxen Meadows are theirs.

Argument Regarding Land Ownership

Natalya get serious and tells him that Oxen Meadows do not belong to him. They actually belong to them. Lomov clarifies that he is talking about the Oxen Meadows that are between her Birchwood and Burnt marsh. Natalya insists that they are theirs. Lomov refuses it. He tells her that his aunt’s grandmother gave those meadows to her father’s grandfather. The peasants used the land for forty years.

Argument Continues Between Natalya and Lomov

Natalya refuses and sticks on her point that those Meadows are theirs. Lomov on the other hand says that he has the documents to prove that it is his land. Natalya tells him that they had that land for nearly 300 years.

Both of them continue fighting over the ownership of the land. Lomov offers to make a present of them to Natalya. She also says that she can make a present of them to him. They start shouting at each other.

Chubukov takes Natalya’s Side

Chubukov also enters the room. Natalya asks him to tell Lomov that the Oxen Meadows are owned by them. Chubukov also supports Natalya and regards the meadows as theirs. Lomov refuses. Chubukov says that by shouting Lomov cannot prove that the Oxen Meadows are owned by him.

Chubukov accuses Lomov by saying that he cannot talk to him so disrespectfully as he is twice of his age. Lomoc says that he is calling his land as his and wants him to speak to him politely. He calls Chubukov a land grabber.

Lomov threatens that he would take Chubukov to the court. A lot of abuses are exchanged between them. Chubukov says that Lomov’s grandfather was a drunkard. His younger aunt Nastasya ran away with an architect. Lomov felt that he was dying so he could not say anything at that time. Natalya also calls Lomov a rascal. Chubukov calls him a villain and a scarecrow. He also calls him a monster who has the courage to propose.

Chubukov Tells Natalya the Purpose of Lomov’s Visit

As soon as Lomov leaves their home, Chubukov tells Natalya that he came to propose her. Hearing the word ‘propose’ , Natalya enquires him. Chubukov tells her that Lomov had come there to propose Natalya for marriage. Hearing this, Natalya starts crying. She asks Chubukov to bring Lomov back at once.

Fight Over the Dogs

Lomov enters again. Natalya begs to be excused. They shift their talks to the dogs as Natalya tells him that the Oxen Meadows are his. They now talk about the dogs. Lomov tells Natalya  that his best dog cost him 125 roubles. Natalya says that it is too much. She tells him that her father had given just 85 roubles for the Squeezer (her dog). She says that Squuzer is better than his dog. Lomov refuses and says hat his lower jaw is shorter than his upper jaw. Natalya says that Squeezer is one of the finest pedigree. They both continue fighting over the breed of their dogs. Chubukov enters ad enquires about the matter. Chubukov also says that Lomov’s dog is old and short.

Lomov Drops to the Ground

Lomov suddenly falls. Natalya asks her father what has happened to him. Chubukov thinks that he has difficulty in breathing. Natalya feels Lomov is dead. Chubukov then calls for water as well as a doctor.

Chubukov Asks Lomov to Marry Natalya

Chubukov seems helpless. He starts accusing himself. He asks for a knife and a pistol. He calls himself the most unhappy of men. He calls himself the most unhappy man. Lomov starts reviving. Lomov says that he sees stars. he asks where he is.  Chubukov says that he should hurry up and marry Natalya. He also tells him that she is willing to marry him. Natalya becomes extremely happy on hearing this. Chubukov also feels happy and offers some champagne for this occasion.

Chapter Sketch

‘The Proposal’ is a one act play by the Russian short story writer and dramatist Anton Chekov. The play is set in a rural countryside of Russia. A long time wealthy neighbour of Stephan Chubukav, Ivan Lomav, comes to seek the hand Stephan’s daughter, Natalya. As three of them are very proud and quarrelsome, they start fighting over petty issues. The proposal of marriage is made finally but the quarrelling continues.

About the Characters

Stephan Stepanovitch Chubukov : He is a landowner and the father of young girl named Natalya.

Natalya : She is a young girl. She is fussy and argumentative.

Ivan Vassilvitch Lomav : He is a young man who wishes to marry Natalya. He is also very argumentative.

Chapter Highlights

  1. Lomov goes to Chubukov’s house to seek hand of Chubukov daughter.
  2. Lomov tells Chubukov the purpose of his visit. Chubukov consents him to marry his daughter.
  3. Lomov starts talking of his land that Natalya thinks owned by her.
  4. Lomov explains Natalya that he owns the land. Argument continues between Lomov and Natalya
  5. Chubukov arrives and takes side of Naalya.
  6. Chubukov tells the purpose behind Lomov’s visit to natalya
  7. Natalya tells Chubukov to call Lomov. Lomov arrives and they quarrel again regarding whose pet dog is better.
  8. Lomov becomes unconscious. Chubukov gives her daughter’s hand to Lomov.

Word Meanings

squeeze : to press something firmly

treasure : (here) used to address a person you like

privilege : a special right

pardon : to excuse

by jove : used to express surprise or emphasis

continual : for a long time

consent : to give permission for someting

tremble : to shake slightly as you are afraid, nervous, excited etc.

lovesick : sick with love

egad : expressing surprise, anger or affirmation

palpitation (of the heart): to beat quickly and strongly and often in a way that is not regular because of excitement , nervousness etc

twitch : to make a slight, sudden movement that is not controlled or deliberate

lunatic : a crazy person

neglige : gown

splendid : glorious

rot : to decay

ball : a large formal gathering for social dancing

late : no longer alive

inherited : received from somebody

regard : a feeling of respect and admiration for someone

meadow : a place for grazing cattle

marsh : a place with loose earth and water

perpetually : the state of continuing for a long time

peasant : a farmer

reckon : believed

wedged : to force into a narrow space, squeeze

worth : having a certain value in money

implore : to make a very serious or emotional request to someone

threshing : process of separating the grains from teh plant

gypsie : a homeless person

impudent : failing to show proper respect and courtesy

grab : to obtain immorally

accuse : to blame

carafe : ta glass container that has a wide mouth and is used to serve drinks

mower : a person who cuts grass

clutch : to hold with the hand

hoarse : loud

restrain : to stop somebody from doing something

yell : to say something very loudly especially as you are very angry

excruciating : very painful; causing great mental or physical pain

accustomed : habitual

temporary : for some time

agitating : disturbing, exciting or angering someone

pettifogger : one who argues about small issues

embezzlement : to steal the money of your employer

lunacy : madness

drunkard : a person who is drunk or who often gets drunk

hump backed : having a hump at the back

guzzle : fat or drink (something ) greedy

gambler : one who gambles

intriguer : cheater

malicious : having or showing a desire to cause harm

stagger : to move unsteadily form side to side

rascal : a cruel or dishonest man

scarecrow : a person who is very badly dressed, odd-looking or thin

impudence : quality of not showing respect for others

confounded : used for emphasis, especially to express anger or annoyance

wizen-faced : wrinkle-faced

frump : a colourless person

wail : to cry

grown up : adult

beating : pulsation or throbbing, typically of the heart

fetch : to go after and bring back someone

evidence : proof

misfortune : bad luck

lame : having an injured leg or foot that makes walking difficult or painful

twisted : forced out of its natural or proper shape

bitten : to cut into someone with teeth

expense : expenditure

pedigree : the history of the family members in an animal’s past especially when it is good or impressive

assure : convince

thoroughbred : of pure and unmixed breed

worn-out : tired

overshot : having the upper jaw extending the lower

heaps : (here) much

contradiction : the act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else

bursting : to break open or into pieces

pretend : assume

rot : (here) rubbish

worse : bad in comparison to something

well-sprung : rounded

purebred (of an animal): having parents that are of the same breed

muzzle : the usually long nose and mouth of an animal

verst : a Russian unit of distance equal to 1.067 kilometres

neck and neck : very close ( as in a race)

whipper : one who whips

liable to : likely to

tracking : (here) hunting

partridge : a bird

milksop : a man who lacks courage

slipper : footwear

worrying : (here) following

jesuit : one who cheats

bliss : complete happiness

damned : used to say that something is not important

Questions and Answers

NCERT Solutions
Thinking about the Play (Page 157)

Question 1 : What does Chubukov at first suspect that Lomov has come for? Is he sincere when he later says “And I’ve always loved you, my angle, as if you were my own son”? Find reasons for your answer form the play.

Answer : At first Chubukov suspected that Lomov has come to borrow money as he was in his evening dress. He was not sincere when he told Lomov that he had always loved him and that he was like his own son, because he had decided to not give any money to Lomov. t was only when Lomov asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage that his attitude changed and he rushed out to call his daughter, Natalya.

Question 2 : Chubukov says of Natalya:”…..as if she won’t consent! She is in love; egad, she’s like a lovesick cat….” Would you agree? Find reasons for your answer.

Answer : Yes, Natalya is in love. This is clear by the way she behaves when she gets to know that Lomov came to propose her. She starts weeping and asks her father to bring Lomov at once.

Question 3 : i) Find all the words and expressions in the play that the characters use to speak to each other, and the accusations and insults they hurt at each other. (For example, Lomov in the end calls Chubukov an intriguer; but earlier, Chubukov has himself called a “malicious, doublefaced intriguer”. Again, excellent housekeeper, not bad-looking, well-educated.”)

ii) Then think of five adjectives or adjectival expressions of your own to describe each character in the play.

iii) Can you imagine what these characters will quarrel about next?

Answer : The words and expressions that have been used to describe each other by various charactes of the play are Chubukov: intriguer, grabber, old rat; Natalya: a lovesick cat, an excellent housekeeper, not bad-looking, well-educated; Lomov : a good neighbour, impudent, pettifogger, malicious, double faced intriguer, rascal, blind hen, turnip ghost, a villain, scare crow, stuffed sausage etc.

Thinking about the Language (Page 157)

Question 1 : I. This play has been translated in English from the Russian original .Are there any expressions or ways of speaking that strike you as more  Russian than English?

For example would an adult man be addressed by an older man as my darling or my treasure in an English play?

Answer : I. Expressions not used in contemporary English are – my angel, my beloved, my beauty (here these expressions, are used for an adult man) and ‘all that sort of thing’ (not explaining what it is just leaving it as it is) and ‘how may you be getting on?’

II. You must have noticed that when we report someone’s exact words, we have to make some changes in the sentence structure. In the following sentences fill in the blanks to list the changes that have occurred in the above pairs of sentences. One has been done for you.

  1. To report a question, we use the reporting verb asked.
  2. To report a declaration, we use the reporting verb…………..
  3. The adverb of place here changes to …………
  4. When the verb in the direct speech is in the present tense, the verb in reported speech is in the ………tense.
  5. If the verb in direct speech is in the present continuous tense, the verb in reported speech changes to ………. tense. For example,,…………changes to was getting.
  6. When the sentence in direct speech contains a word denoting respect, we add the adverb……………in the reporting clause.
  7. The pronouns, I me, our and mine, which are used in the first person in direct speech, change to third person pronouns to such as …….., …………, …………, or, ………….in reported speech.

Answer : 2) declared, (3) there (4) past (5) pat continuous, is getting (6) respectfully (7) he, him, their, his

Extra Questions

Extract Based Questions

Read the following extracts carefully and choose the correct option.

Question 1 : What are you talking about? Oxen Meadows are  ours, not yours?

i) Who is the speaker in the given extract?

a) Stevan Chubukov

b) Natalya

c) Ivan Lomov

d) Anton Chekov

ii) ‘Who’ is being referred to by ‘yours’?

a) Anton Chekov

b) Steval Chubukov

c) Ivan Lomov

d) Natalya

iii) What does Natalya claim to own?

a) Oxen meadows

b) Chubukov house

c) Birchwoods

d) Burnt Marsh

iv) ……..in the extract means ‘a piece of grassland’.

a) Oxen

b) Birchwood

c) Burnt Marsh

d) Meadows

Answer : i) b) Natalya

ii) c) Ivan Lomov

iii) a) Oxen meadows

iv) d) Meadows

Question 2 : Hear me out, I implore you! The peasants of your father’s grandfather, as I have already had the honour of explaining to you, used to bake bricks for my aunt’s grandmother. Now my aunt’s grandmother, wishing to make them a peasant……

i) Who is the speaker in the above extract?

a) Natalya

b) chubukov

c) Lomov

d) Chekov

iii) What did the peasants do?

a) baked bricks for grandmother of Lomov’s Aunt

b) Cooked food for Natalya

c) Did farming for Chubukov

d) Grew tea for Lomov

iii) Which word in the extract can be replaced by ‘high respect’?

a) Implore

b) Peasants

c) Bake

d) Honour

iv) …………..in the extract means ‘to ask something in a very serious way’.

a) Honour

b) Implore

c) Bricks

d) Bake

Answer : i) c) Lomov

ii) a) baked bricks for grandmother of Lomov’s Aunt

iii) d) Honour

iv) b) Implore

Short Questions and Answers

Question 1 : Which qualities are common in all three characters of the play ‘The Proposal’?

Answer : All the characters in the play are argumentative, full of pride and possessiveness. They are always ready to argue for petty things. They even fought over the breed of dogs.

Question 2 : How does Lomov come to Chubokov’s house? For what does he come? How is he receivd?

Answer : Lomov comes to Chubokov’s house in the evening dress with gloves on. He comes to propose his duaghter Natalya. He is received with all the respect by Chubukov, who also felt happy and offered champagne to him.

Question 3 : How does Chubukov react when Lomov says that he has come to ask for the hand of his daughter?

Answer : When Lomov says that he has come to ask for the hand of his daughter, Chubukov gets off balanced with joy. He embraces and kisses Lomov, sheds a tear of joy and calls for God’s blessings for Lomov and Natalya. They celebrated that moment with champagne.

Question 4 : Why did Lomov want to get married?

Answer : Lomov wanted to get married as he was already 35 years old. Moreover, he was suffering due to a weak heart and sleep-sickness and wanted company of someone to look after them. Moreover he knew Natalya’s family for a long time and liked her a lot.

Question 5 : What happens to Lomov when he is in an excited state?

Answer : When Lomov is in an excited state, his heartbeat increases, lips tremble and there is a twitch in his right eyebrow. When he goes to sleep in such a state, something pulls him from this left side and he jumps like a lunatic.

Question 6 : How does Natalya excite Lomov to the point of verbal fighting?

Answer : Natalya repeatedly insists that Oxen Meadows are theirs and tells Lomov that upto now she considered Lomov a good neighbour and friend.

This excites Lomov to the point of verbal fighting. Though he has the documents to prove his possession but Natalya refuses his claim.

Question 7 : How does Lomov react when Chubukov says that he is not used to misbehave by a young man like Lomov?

Answer : Lomov reacts by saying that Chubukov thinks that he is a fool. He says that he cannot talk to him calmly and politely as he is making a false claim to his property. He further accuses Chubukov of being a grabber. He also threatens Chubukov to take him to the court.

Question 8 : Why does Natalya ask her father Chubukov to fetch Lomov in at once? Why does she accuse her father?

Answer : Natalya asks her father to fetch Lomov at once as she comes to know that Lomov had come to propose her. She accused Chubukov of driving Lomov out of their home.

Question 9 : How does Natalya react when she comes to know that Lomov had come to propose her?

Answer : When Natalya comes to know that Lomov had come there to propose her, she was shocked. She cries, changes her stance and asks her father to fetch Lomov in. When he proposed her, she became very happy as she also wanted to marry him.

Long Questions and Answers

Question 1 : The principle ‘forgive and forget’ , helps a lot in maintaining cordial relations with our neighbours. Do you think Anton Chekov conveys this message in the play ‘The Proposal’?

Answer : Anton Chekov does convey the message that the principle of ‘forgive and forget’ helps a lot in maintaining cordial relationship with one’s neighbours. Initially, the neighbours in the play, Lomov, Natalya and Chubukov were fighting over petty issues. They were putting important issues behind them and wasting their time by arguing over small things . These arguments slowly developed into fights and they started hurling abuses at one another. This damaged their relationship with each other.

It was when Natalya came to know that Lomov had come to propose her she left the topic of argument (Oxen Meadows) behind. She also asked for forgiveness from Lomov and requested him to come to the point. This shows that whether they fought unnecessarily upon insignificant issues like breed of dog etc but when it was about the marriage proposal, they forgot their enmity and agreed to marry. Even Chubukov who was insulted by Lomov enjoyed the moment and agreed for their marriage. Hence, it is mandatory to ‘forgive and forget’ if one wants to have cordial relationship with others.

Question 2 : Neighbours must have a cordial relationship which Lomov and Natalya do not have. Describe the first fight between them.

Answer : Lomov meets Natalya and rather than proposing her he gets off the point. He tells her how he inherited his land and how he respects her father. He also tells Natalya that his Oxen Meadows touch Natalya’s Birchwood. On hearing this, Natalya says that Oxen Meadows are theirs. They start arguing about it. Lomov clarifies that he is talking about the Oxen Meadows that are between her Birchwoods and burnt marsh.

Natalya again insists that they are theirs. Lomov refuses it. He tells her that his aunt’s grandmother gave those meadows to her father’s grandfather. The peasants used the land for forty years and started regarding it as their own.

Natalya’s father comes and also starts quarrelling with Lomov. They get into heated argument and resort to name-calling after some time, Lomov leaves their house.