‘The Proposal’, Class 10 English, is a one-act play, a farce by Anton Chekhov. The play highlights the tendency of wealthy families seeking ties with other wealthy families to increase their estates by encouraging marriages that make good economic sense.
The Proposal- Short Summary
This farce drama is about how wealthy families seek to tie up with one another through marriages in order to increase their property and wealth. Lomov is a rich bachelor who wishes to marry Natalya, the daughter of Chubukov who himself is a rich man. The play deals with how all the three characters are very quarrelsome. They quarrel over trivial issues and call each other names. Lomov is not really in love with Natalya, but wants to marry her as he feels she is a good house-keeper, beautiful and well educated. He feels that it is the time he should settle down. Natalya, who doesn’t know he has come to propose to her, feels that he has come to claim oxen meadows as his own. This results in a quarrel with her father Chubukov joining in. After much mud-slinging, when Natalya comes to know that he has come to propose her, she becomes willing to marry him. The proposal is made and accepted, with the knowledge that quarrels will take place in life, and important things should not be side-lined because of this.
The Proposal – Long Summary
Lomov visits Chubukov’s house asks for her daughter Natalya’s hand
Lomov was an unmarried man in his mid-thirties. He couldn’t get a bride of his choice but looking at his advancing age and several ailments that he had, he decided to compromise by proposing Natalya for marriage. Natalya was Chubukov’s daughter and Lomov’s immediate neighbour. Both the families never got along well. Even after that, Lomov thought Natalya to be fairly good-looking, well-educated and a great housekeeper. So, Lomov visited Chubukov’s home.
Chubukov is extremely happy to meet him. He asks him to sit down and also enquires why he was wearing an evening dress. Lomov tells him that he has come there with a purpose. He tells him that he wants to request him about something. Suddenly he gets excited. Chubukov feels that he must have come to borrow money from him. Lomov starts to speak and talks about random things. Finally, he tells Chubukov that he has come there to ask for Natalya’s hand. Chubukov gets excited at hearing this.
Chubukovis insanely happy at the Proposal
Chubukov gets so happy that he starts to behave idiotically. He hugs Lomov and kisses him. Lomov tells Chubukov he wants his consent for the marriage. Chubukov tells him that he was always hoping that he would come to ask for Natalya’s hand.
Lomov Thinks About Natalya and his Life
Lomov starts trembling due to overexcitement. He says that if he would have looked for a perfect partner, he would have never got one and would have remained unmarried. He feels that Natalya is a good housekeeper. He says that she is not bad-looking and is very well educated. He feels he is already too old to get married and now he should lead a quiet and regular life. He starts to jump like a mad person.
Lomov and Natalya arguing over the ownership of Oxen Meadows
Natalya comes and asks Lomov why he had not come there for a long tie. She informs Lomov about the harvest. She asks him why he was dressed in an evening dress and enquired if he was going to a ball.
Before Lomov told Natalya his purpose for the visit, they were off the point. He starts telling her that he has known his family for a very long time. He also tells her how he inherited his land and how he respects her father. He tells Natalya that his Oxen Meadows touch Natalya’s Birchwood. On hearing this, Natalya says that the Oxen Meadows are theirs.
Natalya gets serious and tells him that Oxen Meadows do not belong to him. They actually belong to them. Lomov clarifies that he is talking about the Oxen Meadows that are between her Birchwood and Burnt marsh. Natalya insists that they are theirs. Lomov refuses it. He tells her that his aunt’s grandmother gave those meadows to her father’s grandfather. The peasants used the land for forty years.
Argument Continues Between Natalya and Lomov
Natalya refuses and sticks on her point that those Meadows are theirs. Lomov on the other hand says that he has the documents to prove that it is his land. Natalya tells him that they had that land for nearly 300 years.
Both of them continue fighting over the ownership of the land. Lomov offers to make a present of them to Natalya. She also says that she can make a present of them to him. They start shouting at each other.
Lomov and Chubukov he takes Natalya’s side
Chubukov also enters the room. Natalya asks him to tell Lomov that the Oxen Meadows are owned by them. Chubukov also supports Natalya and regards the meadows as theirs. Lomov refuses. Chubukov says that by shouting Lomov cannot prove that the Oxen Meadows are owned by him.
Chubukov accuses Lomov by saying that he cannot talk to him so disrespectfully as he is twice of his age. Lomoc says that he is calling his land as his and wants him to speak to him politely. He calls Chubukov a land grabber.
Lomov threatens that he would take Chubukov to the court. A lot of abuses are exchanged between them. Chubukov says that Lomov’s grandfather was a drunkard. His younger aunt Nastasya ran away with an architect. Lomov felt that he was dying so he could not say anything at that time. Natalya also calls Lomov a rascal. Chubukov calls him a villain and a scarecrow. He also calls him a monster who has the courage to propose.
Natalya asks Chubukov to bring Lomov back at home
As soon as Lomov leaves their home, Chubukov tells Natalya that he came to propose her. Hearing the word ‘propose’ , Natalya enquires him. Chubukov tells her that Lomov had come there to propose Natalya for marriage. Hearing this, Natalya starts crying. She asks Chubukov to bring Lomov back at once.
Fight Over the quality of Dogs
Lomov enters again. Natalya begs to be excused. They shift their talks to the dogs as Natalya tells him that the Oxen Meadows are his. They now talk about the dogs. Lomov tells Natalya that his best dog cost him 125 roubles. Natalya says that it is too much. She tells him that her father had given just 85 roubles for the Squeezer (her dog). She says that Squuzer is better than his dog. Lomov refuses and says that his lower jaw is shorter than his upper jaw. Natalya says that Squeezer is one of the finest pedigrees. They both continue fighting over the breed of their dogs. Chubukov enters ad enquires about the matter. Chubukov also says that Lomov’s dog is old and short.
Lomov suffers from palpitation and collapses
Lomov suddenly falls. Natalya asks her father what has happened to him. Chubukov thinks that he has difficulty in breathing. Natalya feels Lomov is dead. Chubukov then calls for water as well as a doctor.
Chubukov asks Lomov to marry Natalya
Chubukov seems helpless. He starts accusing himself. He asks for a knife and a pistol. He calls himself the most unhappy of men. He calls himself the most unhappy man. Lomov starts reviving. He took the opportunity and gave his
daughter’s hand into Lomov’s hand.
Lomov says that he sees stars. he asks where he is. Chubukov says that he should hurry up and marry Natalya. He also tells him that she is willing to marry him. He asked Lomov and Natalya to kiss each other. Natalya becomes extremely happy on hearing this. Chubukov also feels happy. he blesses them and starts celebration with champagne.