A Short Story: The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekhov

A story for those who are gambling with hopes...

What would you do if you won the lottery today? Would you invest the money? Would you tell your family or friends? Would you live life to the fullest? There would be too much to think about. Still, it would surely make anyone extremely happy if they won the lottery. Even dreams of having that much money include sweet thoughts. It seems like it was still the case even more than 130 years ago since Chekhov's story which was published in 1887 revolves around this topic.

The story starts with hope and possibility. While the main character Ivan Dmitritch is reading a newspaper, his wife Masha wants him to check the winners of the lottery for her ticket. Ivan is not someone who believes that they could win the lottery but for his wife, he checks for their numbers. A line on the page matches their ticket's first four digits. There are only two digits left for them to win the lottery but before checking them, Ivan wants to dream. Dream of a life that they might have if they win the lottery. At first, it starts lovely. Ivan and Masha are happily married and they have some common dreams. They dream of an estate, a different life. Then, when Ivan says he wants to travel abroad, Masha answers by saying she also wants to. This is the moment everything starts to fall apart. Ivan thinks that his wife would tie him down if they traveled together. Then, he realizes that the lottery ticket doesn't belong to him, it belongs to his wife. He starts to think that his wife will give almost nothing to him. Probably thinking in a similar way, it seems like Masha is also feeling the same way. When Ivan checks the remaining digits they realize they didn't win the lottery. The story ends with their disappointment and cracks in their marriage.

The story shows the worst sides of the greed. The couple is disconnected after thinking badly about each other because of their envy of money they haven't even earned yet. In the process, they started to believe the other person acted without any goodwill. To me, this is the worst a relationship can get. Not just romantic ones, a friendship can suffer from that too. If you believe that a person is ill intended, there is no hope for this relationship from that point. Chekhov merges this idea brilliantly with the topic of the lottery, which makes the story a very fun read. Still, it is hard to not feel sorry for this couple. They were happy once and now, they are broken.


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