The Death of a Government Clerk

The Death of a Government Clerk Analysis

Death of the Government Clerk is one of the early stories of the famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov. Death of the Government Clerk is written in a spirit of realism, this school was spread in Russia in the second half of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Chekhov was able to combine the "strict realism" with increased conditionality. We can clearly trace the features of this direction at the beginning of the story, but at the end of the work Chekhov goes beyond the realism for which the mockery of death is unacceptable.

This work raises the theme of the "little man”. Chekhov tried to protest the suppression of the human person in his works, and in the work Death of the government clerk clearly shows the effects of the treatment: the subject of ridicule is a minor official, who is constantly confused without any reasons.

There are only three characters in the story: a government clerk with the speaking name Ivan Dmitrievich Cherviakov (rus. Cherviak – a worm), a Chervyakov’s wife and General Brizzhalov. Chekhov paid the greatest attention to the government clerk, because he's the main character, an object of mockeries. The author is not interested in the rest of the characters.

The little man in this story is both comic and pathetic. Ridiculous Chervyakov’s perseverance causes laughter and compassion begets his zealous humiliation of himself. Once again, apologizing to the general, the official abandoned his dignity.

At the beginning of the story the author compares the two sides: of a petty official, and of a General. Right from this moment the conflict, traditional for Chekhov’s works, appears. Due to the fact that General shouted at a visitor, Cherviakov dies - like in a familiar plot scheme. But there are significant changes in the story: General shouted at a man only when he brought him to aggression.

This unexpected and comical turn of events is precisely in a particular worldview of the protagonist. Cherviakov died not from fear, but from the fact that the saint for him principles were violated by a high rank person.

The master of the small genre could not change his style even at that time. Chekhov’s brevity is simply amazing. His small works often have a profound meaning, and it is possible to learn it only with the artistic details that are meant to convey the main idea to a reader. The presence of the author isn’t felt in this story, Chekhov moves away from the heroes. This technique helps to describe the action even more objectively.

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