The Three Sisters Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First produced: 1901, at the Moscow Art Theater

First published: 1901 as Tri sestry (revised, 1904; English translation, 1920)

Type of work: Play

Type of plot: Impressionistic realism

Time of work: Nineteenth century

Locale: Russia

Characters DiscussedAndrey Prozorov

Andrey Three Sisters, TheProzorov (ahn-DRAY proh-ZOH-rof), the son of a high-ranking Russian army officer. He studies to be a professor, but after his marriage he turns to gambling to forget his boorish wife, who takes a lover. He is an ineffective man who accomplishes nothing.

Natasha

Natasha (nah-TAH-shuh), Andrey’s ill-bred, rude, and selfish wife. She takes a local official, Protopopov, as her lover.

Masha

Masha (MAH-shuh), one of Andrey’s sisters and the wife of Fyodor Kuligin. She once thought her husband clever, but she has been disillusioned. She falls in love with Vershinin, though he cannot leave his wife and children for her.

Fyodor Kuligin

Fyodor Kuligin (FYOH-dohr KOO-lih-gihn), Masha’s husband. He is an ineffective man who teaches in a high school.

Olga Prozorov

Olga Prozorov (OHL-y-guh), one of Andrey’s sisters. She wants desperately to return to Moscow. She teaches languages in the town’s high school and becomes headmistress, but she is unhappy with her lot.

Irina Prozorov

Irina Prozorov (ihr-IHN-uh), one of Andrey’s sisters. Her hopes are dashed when Baron Tusenbach is killed by Captain Solyony in a duel, for she thought she could escape the little garrison town by marrying the baron.

Ivan Tchebutykin

Ivan Tchebutykin (iv-AHN cheh-BOOT-y-kihn), a medical doctor and friend of the Prozorovs. He is an incompetent medical practitioner.

Baron Tusenbach

Baron Tusenbach (TOO-sehn-bahch), an army lieutenant in love with Irina Prozorov. He is killed in a duel by Captain Solyony, his rival for Irina’s affections.

Captain Vassily Solyony

Captain Vassily Solyony (vah-SIH-lihy soh-ly-ON-y), Baron Tusenbach’s rival for Irina Prozorov’s love. He kills the baron in a duel over the young woman.

Alexandr Vershinin

Alexandr Vershinin (ahl-EHKS-andr vehr-SHIH-nihn), an artillery commander. He believes the world and people will get better and better. He falls in love with Masha but cannot leave his family for her.

Protopopov

Protopopov (proh-toh-POH-pof), a local official who becomes Natasha’s lover.

BibliographyBarricelli, Jean-Pierre, ed. Chekhov’s Great Plays: A Critical Anthology. New York: New York University Press, 1981. An excellent collection of critical essays, of which four directly pertain to the play. One deals with the love theme, another discusses Vershinin, the third analyzes cyclical patterns and triads, and the fourth compares the women characters of the four major plays.Clyman, Toby W., ed. A Chekhov Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985. An eclectic work examining many aspects of the plays and stories. Specific essays focus on Chekhov’s craftsmanship, his impact in the theater, and performance on stage and in film. Good bibliography.Melchinger, Siegfried. Anton Chekhov. Translated by Edith Tarcov. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1972. A slim volume of fewer than two hundred pages with photographs and selected bibliography. A good starting point for the student, containing biographical material, an analysis of Chekhov’s craft, and discussions of individual plays and productions in Europe and America.Troyat, Henri. Chekhov. Translated by Michael Henry Heim. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1986. A readable biography with rare photographs of the author. Includes an interesting description of the writing of The Three Sisters and the reception of the first production.Wellek, René, and Nonna D. Wellek, eds. Chekhov: New Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1984. A brief collection of eight essays with a good discussion of The Three Sisters, as well as a historical review of criticism, typical dramatic structure, and Chekhov’s artistic development.
Categories: Characters