The Proposal Chapter Notes: ‘The Proposal’ is a play filled with farcical ridiculous situations and scenes. The notes given here comprise a summary with proper headings, theme and character sketch of the character of the play. For more materials, you can click the below links.
Summary: The Proposal
The Proposal is a one-act satirical play in which Lomov presents proposes a marriage to his neighbour’s daughter. Before things could be communicated, they indulge in a series of arguments. The author portrays how affluent families seek to marry in similar families to add to their assets.
Broadly The Proposal can be divided into:
- Lomov visits Chubukov
- Lomov’s Purpose of Visit
- Chubukov’s Consent
- Lomov’s Thoughts
- Natalya and Lomov together
- Lomov’s Claim and Natalya’s Defense
- Intense Argument
- Chubukov on Natalya’s Side
- Abuses and Accusations
- Natalya’s Reaction to the ‘Proposal’
- Fighting over Dogs
- Abuses Hurl
- Lomov’s Physical Condition
- Chubukov Announces the Marriage
Lomov Visits Chubukov
- One day, Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov visited Stepan Chubukov.
- Ivan Lomov was dressed in his finery – a dress jacket and white gloves.
- The two neighbours greet each other affectionately.
Lomov’s Purpose of Visit
- Chubukov thinks Lomov is here to ask for money.
- Lomov is in a state of excitement. Stammering, he asks Chubukov for his daughter Natalya’s hand.
- Chubukov is ecstatic. He accepts the proposal and runs out to send Natalya to meet Lomov.
- He is confident that his daughter will accept the proposal too.
- After Chubukov leaves, Lomov thinks to himself.
- He feels that he needs to decide and not think too much. Otherwise, he will never get married.
- Natalya – he feels – has all the qualities of a good wife. She is ‘an excellent housekeeper, not bad-looking and well-educated’.
- Besides, he is thirty-five and has a weak heart. He ought to settle down and lead a quiet life.
Natalya and Lomov Together
- At this point, Natalya enters. She makes Ivan comfortable and asks after him.
- Ivan hesitatingly and nervously begins to say why he is there. Instead of getting straight to the point, he starts talking about their childhood and the warm relationship between their families.
Lomov’s Claim and Natalya’s Defense
- Lomov also points out that they are neighbours too – his Oxen Meadows touch their birchwood trees.
- Natalya interrupts him here. She asserts that Oxen Meadows belongs to the Chubukovs and not the Lomovs.
- Ivan disagrees strongly.
- And thus, begins a long argument between Natalya and Ivan about the ownership of Oxen Meadows.
- Ivan believes that his grandmother had allowed some peasants of Natalya’s great-grand father to settle on the land in exchange for laying bricks for her.
- Natalya, on the other hand, tells him that Oxen Meadows had always been part of their estate.
- The argument gets louder and louder, and Natalya threatens to send her mowers to Oxen Meadows on the same day.
- Lomov feels agitated. He clutches at his heart, but he does not back down.
- Natalya’s father, hearing the commotion, enters the room.
Chubukov on Natalya’s Side
- Natalya asks her father to settle the matter. Chubukov, of course, agrees with his daughter.
- And thus, starts a new round of arguments between the two Chubukovs and Lomov. Lomov threatens to take them to court.
Natalya’s Reaction to the ‘Proposal’
- Natalya is horrified when she realises what she had done. She cries out hysterically and tells her father to call Ivan back.
- Chubukov is alarmed to see his daughter’s state. He leaves and sends Lomov back.
- Natalya greets Lomov affectionately and tells him that Oxen Meadows is his. Lomov is happy to hear that.
Abuses and Accusations
- Chubukov, in anger, abuses his family.
- Lomov feels his arm going numb. Angry and agitated, Lomov stumbles out the door.
- Chubukov, calling him a villain, tells Natalya that he cannot believe that this ‘scarecrow’ had the nerve to propose to Natalya.
Fighting over Dogs
- Lomov then tells her that his dog has gone lame. He laments the fact that he paid 125 roubles for him.
- Natalya feels that the amount was too high. She believes that the dog her father bought for merely 85 roubles is better than Lomov’s.
- Lomov disagrees. And another long argument starts.
- Chubukov returns as the heated argument is in progress.
- By now, Lomov feels that his foot is going to sleep. His heart does not feel well either.
- Chubukov and Natalya continue arguing with Lomov. They even begin to tease him.
- Lomov, unable to bear it anymore, collapses.
- Natalya screams. She believes Lomov is dead.
Lomov’s Physical Condition
- Chubukov looks around wildly, shouting for a doctor. In panic, he seizes a glass and brings it to Lomov’s mouth.
- To their surprise, Lomov starts moving. He is not sure where he is.
Chubukov Announces the Marriage
- Chubukov quickly tells him that Natalya is willing to marry him. He tells his daughter to kiss him in agreement.
- Lomov is now fully awake. He is happy that Natalya has agreed to marry him.
- Natalya is also happy, but she is unwilling to lose the argument. She reiterates that her dog Squeezer is better than Lomov’s Guess. Lomov too refuses to give in and insists that Squeezer was worse.
- As for Chubukov, he wanted to avoid another argument. He quickly shouts for champagne.
The major theme of the chapter is :
- Romance and Marriage
- Lack of Communication
Romance and Marriage
- Through the story, the poet depicts that marriages are not always as romantic as we believe.
- The arranged marriage between Lomov and Natalya is purely a practical agreement and there is no respect or love between the two.
- Through the characters of the story, Chekhov describes how wealthy families marry in similar families to maintain their status and grow their wealth.
Lack of Communication
- Chekhov depicts the theme of lack of communication throughout the story.
- Firstly, when Lomov first meets Natalya, he talks about their families instead to directly proposing to her.
- Secondly, even after knowing that they were prospective partners, they argued about who had a better dog, instead of talking about their future.
- And finally, the use of abusive words is never a mark of a healthy communication. They insult each other and call each other names like ‘snake’, ‘rat’, ‘brat’, ‘fool’, etc.
The major characters in The Proposal are:
- Stephan Stepanovitch Chubukov
- Natalya Stepanovna
- Ivan Vas Silevitch Lomov
Stephan Stepanovitch Chubukov
Responsible: Chubukov, a landowner and father of Natalya, is desperate to marry her daughter as he believes that she is of a “marriageable age”.
Cunning: He calls Lomov by names like ‘angel’, ‘treasure’, etc., so that Lomov’s desire to marry Natalya persists.
Favours family: Until Natalya entered the scene, Chubukov sang praises of Lomov. But no sooner did the fight between Natalya and Lomov pick up than Chubukov favoured his daughter.
Short tempered: Natalya, though well educated, is short-tempered and quarrelsome. Even though she wished to marry Lomov, she quarrelled over a piece of land.
Love-sick: Natalya is desperate to fall in love. So much so that her father calls her a ‘lovesick cat’. She forces her father to call Lomov back after he stormed out because she wanted to marry him.
Argumentative: She continues to argue with Lomov over trivial matters, knowing that she may anger him and he may not marry her.
Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov
Desperate: Lomov is a thirty-five-year-old man who is desperate to get married. He visits Chubukov with a proposal to marry his daughter, Natalya.
Practical: Lomov thinks of Natalya as a good prospect to get married as she is a ‘good housekeeper’ and ‘not bad looking’. He has a very practical approach towards marriage and is clearly far from love.
Quarrelsome: He quarrelled with Natalya over irrelevant things like Oxen Meadows and pet dogs when he had visited them with a proposal to marry Natalya.