The Ninny: A Strength in Weakness

Paula Jordan-Rozwadowski
Mr. Iozzo
ENG2DP
3 March 2017

A strength in weakness

Anton Chekhov's "The Ninny" is a short story that examines conventional ideas of strength and weakness in the human character, and redefines them through the story’s protagonist and antagonist. In “The Ninny,” Chekhov explores the human spirit and, through stream of consciousness and character epiphanies, shows how it reacts to being both the oppressed and the oppressor. The story turns expectations inside out; with a plot that sees an employer attempt to cruelly trick his governess into thinking she is being cheated out of her salary just to see if she will put up a fight. Instead, he learns a ...

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ranging from rank, to gender, to figure, to composure; in fact, the two are perfect opposites. This contrast between the wealthy owner and the lower caste governess, serves to validate the disparities of strength and weakness at a high degree. In narrating the story from the employer’s perspective, Chekhov underscores the mindset of 19 th century Russian society by attributing dominant qualities society to the wealthy, especially if they are male. Written in 1860, it is safe to say that worldviews, dictated men as highly superior to women, automatically suggesting that “forte” is a masculine quality. Yulia’s employer establishes his dominance over her by commanding her from the very start. “Sit down, Yulia Vassilyevna (Chekhov page 1). Yulia in turn obeys. In referencing his notes to support his arguments, the employer repeatedly establishes that his word is above Yulia’s. The governess, in contrast, is a depiction of how society interprets weakness: A woman, a victim of ...

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is initially interpreted as the only kind of strong plausible, however the reader, like the owner, learns that strength has different forms not always relates to social class. He initially presents a woman who is meek and submissive, but as the story progresses some same traits start to become symbols of her strength. Ironically it is the owner and not Yulia that who proceeds to show weakness. As he continues to push Yulia to lose her temper and stand up for herself, the employer begins to rapidly lose control. “I jumped up, and began pacing up and down the room. I was in a furious temper (2). The owner was unable to control his emotions. He shows weakness here. This twist in the ...

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Added: 2/24/2019 02:47:57 PM
Submitted By: paulajordan
Category: Book Reports
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