The theme of Anton Chekhov's play "Uncle Vanya" is the life of the "little" people, with its invisible suffering and difficulty in the name of someone else's happiness, beauty theme lost in vain.
With the very name of the play Chekhov indicates simplicity, commonness of the characters and their suffering.
Uncle Vanya and his niece Sonya their entire lives are working tirelessly for the happiness of others: to create material wealth for Sonya’s father, professor Serebryakov, who they used to take for talented scholar.
Serebryakov, already retired professor, married secondly a beautiful young woman. His first wife, Sonia’s mother and uncle Vanya’s sister died long ago.
The estate belonged to the deceased Sonya's mother. Now it belongs to Sonia. Uncle Vanya for twenty-five years worked in order to pay off his father's debt and bring disordered estate in order. Twenty-five years he worked "as the most conscientious clerk", receiving miserable salary from Serebryakov and sent him to the capital all the income to the last penny so that he could safely write his scholarly works and discourse from the pulpit. Sonia and Uncle Vanji were inspired by the idea that serving the scientist, they serve science, culture, progress - the general idea. The professor was their "superior being".
Uncle Vanya is forty-seven years. He is a beggar. He never knew joy or rest. And now, when his best years have passed, he opened his eyes to the awful truth. He realized that he gave the best years, his youth to the service of insignificance. He saw that his idol is just a pompous mediocrity, stuffed with claims and self-important.
Pampered by easily received successful career, by women’s love, by Uncle Vanya and Sonya’s work, Serebryakov is heartless and selfish. For twenty-five years, he never thanked Uncle Vanya, he did not add a penny to his salary.
Serebryakov’s arrival in estate violates all the rigorous work order in the house. Professor tyrannized everyone with his whims, his gout, his callous selfishness. Everyone in the house has to care only about him. Uncle Vanya is going through a serious condition of the person, who in old age had to realize that he had senselessly lived his life. So he comes to his tragically belated "rebellion." He seemed to require back his ruined life. He falls in love with his professor’s wife. For the first time in his life he starts to drink.
Professor announces his project: to sell the estate and to live on this money in the capital. Uncle Vanya is shocked. Not only that, he gave all his money and all his life to Serebryakov, now, when he became old, he, along with Sonia, is driven from his native corner.
Uncle Vanya’s "riot" ends with a shot into the professor. After this climax Uncle Vanya still cherishes the idea of suicide, but then, under the influence of a gentle and meek Sonya, he returned again to his work.
This is the story of a life dedicated to an "idol." How many of such workers, unnoticed by other, gave their best forces to the false idols, convinced that their work serves the "general idea".
In the plays of Chekhov's human stories are revealed. Past, present, and future of heroes, the development of their destinies and characters is presented to the reader with the same fullness as it happens in the novel.
The theme of exposing the terrible futility of service to "chosen" individuals - that Chekhov's theme has found a strong expression in "Uncle Vanja." The theme of dying beauty of life is the leitmotif of the play. It is connected with all the protagonists.
From Chekhov’s point of view of and his characters, it is labor and creativity creates human beauty. Poetry of labor and longing for this poetry - that is the secret charm of heroes and heroines of Chekhov.
Dr. Astroff, Uncle Vanya's friend, says about Elena Andreyevna, Serebryakov’s wife: "The man should be beautiful: the face and clothing, and soul, and mind. She is beautiful, no doubt, but ... because she just eats, sleeps, walks, charms us with her beauty - and nothing else. She has no responsibilities, others are working on her ... right? And an idle life cannot be pure. "
Passionately in love with the beauty of his native land, its forests, gardens, suffers from the fact that the forests are being cut down Astroff says: "Yes, I understand, if in place of the deforested would have been laid highways, railways, if there were factories, schools - people would be healthier, richer, smarter, but there is nothing of the sort! Everywhere the same swamps, mosquitoes, the same roads, poverty, typhoid, diphtheria, fires ... almost everything is destroyed, but created nothing instead". Astroff mourns over destroyed beauty of the land, over destroyed human beauty
The leitmotif of the play - dying beauty - sounds in many variations. After all, Astroff grieving over the destruction of the beauty of life, too, is in a way of dying beauty. Astroff’s inner beauty is destroyed by the life itself.
Wisdom of the play’s ending consists in the mentioning that "light of life, beautiful, elegant" – is the life that Sonia and Uncle Vanja and Astroff deserve, and a lot of other "little" people, workers, who give everything for the happiness of others.