The setting for the events is significant because it allows readers to see why the characters struggle. The setting is beautiful (there is a garden, a lovely house, a samovar, benches, chairs, and a swing), but, for Vanya and Sonya, it is clearly a prison. For Serebryakov and Helen, it is also a prison, but only because they do not need to work the land or take care of the estate's administration.
The cartogram of the land radically changes Astroff's conception of the world around him. Years ago there were “green tints, both dark and light, which represent forests, great flocks of swans and geese and ducks” on the map, but the cartogram has changed after twenty-five years. “Only a third of the map is green now with forests. There are no goats left and no elk.” People have stopped taking care of nature, and the cartogram shows it.
Vanya’s bedroom is also his office, where “a table stands near the window; on it there are ledgers, letter scales, and papers of every description. Nearby stands a smaller table belonging to Astrov, with his paints and drawing materials. There is also a map of Africa on the wall, obviously of no use to anybody. There is a large sofa covered with buckram.” All this description affirms that Vanya is educated and very busy, while also suggesting that his intellectual life is stunted due to the tediousness of working for Serebryakov.
Vanya mocks Serebryakov's attire: "It's hot and stuffy here, but the great sage is complete with overcoat, galoshes, umbrella, and gloves" (121). This imagery clearly establishes the puffed-up, pretentious nature of Serebryakov: he is clearly is out of his element in the country.
Uncle Vanya Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Uncle Vanya is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.