Three Sisters (play)  

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Three Sisters is a play by Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov. Written in 1900 and first produced in 1901, It is considered one of Chekhov's major plays.

Unseen characters

The Three Sisters has a great number of important characters that are talked about frequently, but never seen. These include Protopopov, The head of the local Council and Natasha's lover, Vershinin's Suicidal wife and two daughters, and Andrei and Natasha's children Bobick and Sasha.


Three Sisters is a naturalistic play about the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world. It describes the lives and aspirations of the Prozorov family, the three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and their brother Andrei. They are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence. The sisters are refined and cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow; however for the past eleven years they have been living in a small provincial town. Moscow is a major symbolic element: the sisters are always dreaming of it and constantly express their desire to return. They identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. However as the play develops Moscow never materializes and they all see their dreams recede further and further. Meaning never presents itself and they are forced to seek it out for themselves.


Act one begins with Olga (the eldest of the sisters) working as a teacher in a school, but at the end of the play she is made Headmistress, a promotion she had no interest in. Masha, the middle sister, is married to Feodor Ilyich Kulygin, a schoolteacher. At the time of their marriage, Masha was enchanted by his cleverness, but seven years later, she considers him to be rather dull, and not as intelligent as she first thought. Irina, the youngest sister, dreams of going to Moscow and meeting her true love. Andrei is the only boy in the family. He is in love with Natalia Ivanovna (Natasha). The play begins on the first anniversary of their father's death, also Irina's name-day. It follows with a party. At this Andrei confesses his feelings to Natasha.

Act two begins about 21 months later, Andrei and Natasha are married and have their first child, a son. Natasha is having an affair with Protopopov, Andrei's superior, a character who is mentioned but never seen onstage. Masha begins to have an affair with Aleksandr Ignatovich Vershinin, a lieutenant colonel who is married to a woman who continually attempts suicide. Tuzenbach and Solyony declare their love for Irina.

Act three takes place about a year later in Olga and Irina's room (a clear sign that Natasha is taking over the household as she asked them to share rooms so that her child could have a different room). There has been a fire in the town, and everyone is helping. Olga, Masha and Irina are angry with their brother, Andrei, for mortgaging their home and keeping the money to pay off his gambling debts. Masha tells Olga and Irina about her continuing affair with Vershinin. Kulygin (her husband) becomes more affectionate towards her, but she less so with him. Irina decides she will marry Tuzenbach because Olga (who is a little old-fashioned) suggested she should because it is her duty as a woman. Chebutykin is drunk, and smashes a clock belonging to the sister's and Andrei's mother, whom he loved.

In the fourth and final act the soldiers, who by now are friends of the family, are preparing to leave the area. Just as they are leaving, Solyony kills Tuzenbach in a duel. This does not occur onstage, but a shot is heard and the death is announced shortly before the end of the play. Masha returns to her accepting husband. Olga reluctantly takes the position of permanent headmistress of the school where she teaches and moves out. She is accompanied by Anfisa, protecting the elderly woman from Natasha's clutches. Irina's fate is uncertain but she wants to move on with her teaching career. Natasha remains as the chatelaine, in charge and in control. Andrei is stuck in his marriage with two children, the only people that Natasha truly dote on.

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