SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social SciencesПравильная ссылка на статью:
Love and Trauma in “The Lady with Dog” and The Great Gatsby / Любовь и травма в "Даме с собачкой" и в "Великом Гэтсби"
Дата направления статьи в редакцию:02-02-2022
Аннотация: Эта статья посвящена сравнительному литературному исследованию двух произведений, рассказа русского писателя Антона Чехова "Дама с собачкой" и романа его американского коллеги Ф. Скотта Фицджеральда "Великий Гэтсби". Цель авторов состоит в том, чтобы выявить возможное взаимное влияние между двумя этими авторами и их творчеством. Для достижения поставленной цели авторы стремятся определить наиболее значимые в свете избранных для анализа аспектов (любовь, эго, травма) схожие инциденты и различия. В исследовании используются исторические, аналитические, сравнительные и психоаналитические методы. В частности, авторы основывают свое сравнение на фрейдистском взгляде на любовь и травму, чтобы проанализировать психологическую борьбу после потери любви, пережитой обоими главными героями: Гуровым и Гэтсби. Новизна исследования заключается во всестороннем сравнении темы любви между авторами и их главными героями, а также с самими главными героями. В отличие от существующих научных работ авторами проведено сравнение психологических аспектов не только любви, но травмы и эго Гурова и Гэтсби. В частности, статья раскрывает сходства и различия аспектов любви, эго и травмы, а также то, как они воспринимаются обоими главными героями. Оба главных героя влюбляются в женщин, с которыми не могут быть, потому что они замужем за другими мужчинами. Таким образом, они оба пережили травмирующую ситуацию, с которой не могли справиться. Исследование проливает свет на сходство между Чеховым и Гэтсби и их рассказчиками в обоих тематических исследованиях. Полученные результаты могут быть использованы как в практике литературной психоаналитической критики, так и в практике сравнительных исследований.
Ключевые слова:сравнительное исследование, русская литература, американская литература, психоанализ травма, любовь и травма, изоляция, эго, Фрейд, Чехов, Фитцджеральд
Abstract: This article is devoted to introduce a literary comparative study between two literary works written by the Russian novelist Anton Chekhov’s short story "The Lady with the Dog" and his American counterpart F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel "The Great Gatsby". The goal lies in revealing the possibility of an existed influence between the two authors. Also, it reveals the similarities and differences of the aspects of love, ego, and trauma. Multiple articles dealt separately with the theme of love in both case studies, thus; the novelty lies in comprehensive comparative of the theme of love between the original authors and their protagonists, as well as with the protagonists themselves. Another novelty is presented in comparing other psychological aspects of trauma and ego of Gurov and Gatsby. The research employs the historical, analytical, comparative, and psychoanalytical methods. The author, specifically, bases his comparison on the Freudian view of love and trauma to analyse the psychological struggle after the love loss experienced by both protagonists; Gurov and Gatsby. Both of them fall in love with women they cannot be with because they are both married to other men, so they both experienced traumatic situation that the protagonists could not get over it. The acquired results can be used both in the practice of literary psychoanalytical criticism, and practice in the filed of comparative studies.
Keywords:comparative study, Russian literature, American literature, psychoanalysis, love and trauma, isolation, ego, Freud, Chekhov, Fitzgerald
Erin Negley, in his essay, states that Stenberg, a teacher form high school in Wilson, found similarities between the American author Fitzgerald and his Russian counterpart Anton Chekhov. Stenberg claims that "[t]hey both have a great insight into matters of the human heart" [17, p. 3]. For The Great Gatsby , “[t]he ideals of love and marriage are profoundly strained in [it], a book that centers on two loveless marriages: the union between Tom and Daisy Buchanan and between George and Myrtle” [20, p. 10]. It is the same case for the short story The Lady with the Dog : Virginia Llewellyn Smith remarks that there is "[n]o other single work of Cexov's fiction constitutes a more meaningful comment on Chekhov's attitude to women and to love" [21, p. 212].
Doug Steinberg was the first to mention the influence of Anton Chekhov on F. Scott Fitzgerald in his article “Lights from a Distance”. Despite the similarities between the two stories that might give the impression of an existing influence; however, Matthew J. Bruccoli makes no mention of Anton Chekhov's "The Lady with the Dog" as a possible influence on The Great Gatsby [6, p. 157]. After the publication of The Great Gatsby in 1925, two references to Chekhov appeared in a collection of letters written by Fitzgerald. The first appeared in a letter addressed to Maxwell Perkins in April 1926, which says “I’ve just finished Chekhov’s Letters on Literature . God, there’s a book” [6, p. 202]. The second reference is dated back to the fourth of May, 1940: “You never could plot for shocks but you might try something along the line of Gogol’s ‘The Cloak’ or Chekhov’s ‘The Darling’. They are both in the modern library’s ‘Best Russian Short Stories’ which the local Carnegie may have in stock” [6, p. 340]. Moreover, Paul Michael Levitt states that:
“Fitzgerald, who admired Chekhov, was likely to have known “The Lady with the Dog” in the Garnett translation, used here, and to have found in that story a template for Gatsby. The striking similarities between Dmitri Gurov and Jay Gatsby cannot be lightly dismissed. Both woo a woman whom they do not initially intend to love: in Gurov’s case, Anna Sergeyevna, and in Gatsby’s Daisy fay” [12, p. 157-158].
The great Gatsby (1925), Fitzgerald’s best known novel, is considered to be “a timeless classic” [1, p. 9]. Fitzgerald ultimately found himself in his protagonist Jay Gatsby. Fitzgerald provided Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, with a background that was similar to his own. He was insecure and suffered from a hopeless and desperate love. Both the author and his hero fell in love with demanded and ambitious women, who were looking for a wealthy and accomplished man. Fitzgerald wanted to impress Zelda in the same way that Gatsby tried to impress Daisy. As a result, Fitzgerald began to write books in order to win her heart. Similarly, Gatsby felt compelled to impress Daisy by throwing lavish parties regularly. Fahey states that, Fitzgerald “was not simply Gatsby, nor Gatsby altogether. Part of him was Nick Carraway” [4, p. 77-78]. So they are both self-portraits of the author, and “Fitzgerald’s use of a narrator [in Gatsby] allowed him to separate the two sides of his nature” [15, p. 70].
Anton Chekhov's short story The Lady with the Dog (1899) "is the best-known and most affirmative of [Chekhov’s] works" [8, p. 197]. It tells the story of an adulterous affair between an unhappy married banker from Moscow and a young married woman, which begins when they were both on vacation in Yalta alone. Like Fitzgerald, The story also is “one of the most personal of [Chekhov’s] great stories. Its main character, Gurov, falls in love for the first time as he nears 40. At that same age [Chekhov] fell in love with the actress Olga Knipper” [19, p. 13]. As a young man, Chekhov had a series of love affaires, his most stressful with the wife of a schoolteacher. As a married man, he was frequently away from his actress wife, Olga Knipper; like in his short story, he lived in Yalta, while she was in Moscow. Chekhov like his hero in “The Lady With the Dog”, was surrounded by a lot of women: “Why was this? One of Chekhov’s biographers, Triolet, dismissed his sex-life with the comment: ‘Autour de lui des femmes, beuacoup de femmes, mais il était, à ce sujet, si discret que l’on se doit de l’étre autant que lui’” [21, p. 14].
The issue that can be widely explored, in both The Great Gatsby and “The Lady with the Dog”, is the psychological struggle with the main character’s lost love. Both Jay Gatsby and Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov search to get back their lost love. Actually Gastby’s situation is different from that of Gurov in the sense that Gatsby is struggling to get a long- lost love from five years ago. Gurov on the other hand searches for a love that he lived only a month ago. However, both Gatsby and Gurov seem to be in a hopeless love, and would do anything in their power to be again with their beloved women.
The founding father of Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud suggests that unlike women, when a man falls in love, he displays a sexual overvaluation of the object love. Andrew P. Morrison explains this idea to which Freud refers to it in one of his discussions. He states that, the male shows a sexual overvaluation of the love object which “is derived from the child’s original narcissism to the sexual object and thus corresponds to a transference of that narcissism to the sexual object” [16, p. 31]. This means that a man expresses less egoism than a woman does, since he over valuates and idealizes the love object. This justifies Jay Gatsby’s overvaluation of his beloved woman. He is completely distracted from the outside world. Gatsby's love for Daisy Buchannan seems so consuming that it makes him build all his fortune and buy a huge castle, only to take her again from her husband Tom: “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay” [5, p. 85]. The narrator Nick Caraway hints many times to Gatsby's overstated idealization of Daisy. For instance, he wonders: “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams […] because of the colossal vitality of his illusion” [5, p. 103]. This idealization of Daisy can be explained through Freud’s theory of love which suggests that: “When we are in love […] the object serves as a substitute for some unattained ego ideal of our own. We love it on account of the perfections which we have striven to reach for our own ego, and which we should not like to procure in this roundabout way as a means of satisfying our narcissism” [8, p. 74]. In light of what has gone before, Gatsby sees in Daisy the perfections that he has been striving for a long time, basically to satisfy his own ego. Daisy's affection acts as a substitute for Gatsby's unrealized ego ideal. Instead, he wants to become a significant man in the society; since Daisy belongs to a wealthy bourgeois family, she serves as a substitute for his pressure towards sublimation. Nick analyzes Gatsby's way of talking and thinks: “He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy” [5, p. 118]. This statement vindicates Freud’s claim since it demonstrates Gatsby’s desire to replace his unattained ego ideal or that some idea of himself. This unattained ego ideal is depicted in Daisy, the girl from an old-moneyed family who is overconfident of “her membership in rather distinguished secret society” [5, p. 22].
Just like in The Great Gatsby , Gurov’s love for Anna Sergeyevna, in Chekhov’s short story, is involuntary and overwhelming. It completely changes him into another person. At the very beginning of “The Lady with the Dog”, Gurov is described as having an overly pessimistic view about women, love, and intimacy in general. He continually cheats on his wife, and “had been unfaithful to her often, and, probably on that account, almost always spoke ill of women, and when they were talked about in his presence, used to call them the ‘the lower race” [13, p. 115]. Gurov used to think about intimacy with a woman as an attempt that sooner or later goes bitter, since he believes that “every intimacy, which at first so agreeably diversifies life and appears a light and charming adventure, inevitably grows into a regular problem of extreme intricacy, and in the long run the situation becomes unbearable” [13, p. 115]. However and as Gurov falls in love with Anna, this quote above becomes ironically true. Unexpectedly, Gurov develops strong and honest feelings for Anna, which start to make his whole life feel unsettled. Exactly as Gatsby does, he starts to over valuate Anna, and she “seemed to him [after the separation] lovelier, younger, tenderer than she was; and he imagined himself finer than he had been in Yalta” [13, p. 22]. This quote perfectly goes with the Freudian idea of male’s sexual overvaluation of his love object. At first, Gurov saw something pathetic in Anna and felt bored and irritated by the naïve tone in her conversation [13, p. 120]. However, his feelings seem to develop unconsciously into a deep longing love, and end with an overvaluation and an idealization of his beloved woman. Similarly to Gatsby, Gurov’s love for Anna is so overwhelming that it made him lie to his wife and travels to find Anna in her hometown. He even took the risk of standing vigil next to her house and meeting her in the theatre, even though he could be easily caught by her husband or anyone else. After their first eye contact at the Theatre, “he felt suddenly frightened; it seemed as though all the people in the boxes were looking at them” [13, p. 124]. Belonging to the romanticized category of women, and Drawing from the Freudian theory, one can argue that Anna serves as a substitute for Gurov’s unattained ego ideal, since he loves her due to the perfections which he struggled to reach for his own ego. Gurov’s love is the consequence of his dissatisfaction with his marriage. Therefore, he looks for an alternative for his unattained ego ideal, i.e., the true love which is absent in his relationship with his wife. Anna in “The Lady with the Dog” closely resembles Daisy in The Great Gatsby ; s he represents Gurov’s unattained desire for true love, as Daisy personifies Gatsby’s unachieved desire to be a significant man in a wealthy society. As Nathan Rosen rightly explains, “[f]or the hero [Anna] […] personifies a poetic and sometimes sentimentalized incarnation of the ideal” [5, p. 19].
Freud claims that, if sexual overestimation and love develop further, the man's ego becomes gradually modest, while the love object itself becomes increasingly valuable, until, in the end, it possesses the ego's whole self-love. Since the object has consumed the ego, this state is naturally followed by self-sacrifice; the object, therefore, humbles the ego by lowering its narcissism. [8, p. 74-75]. Reflecting on this claim, both Gatsby and Gurov keep devoting themselves to their beloved women until the end. Gatsby is devoted to Daisy’s love to the extent that he takes the blame for Myrtle's death instead of her, and putting himself at the risk of being accused of killing; confessing that he was the driver in the car accident. Gurov as well reveals his devotion and total sacrifice to Anna, until he is completely deprived of his feelings of self-importance. Though his love does not end up with a physical death as in Gatsby’s case, Gurov takes many risks only to approach Anna again; “he simply feels a desperate need to see her” [19, p. 19]. Rosen examines the scene at the end of the story when Gurov suddenly notices that “[h]is hair was already beginning to turn grey” [13, p. 126]. He explains that Gurov’s problem is psychological rather than physiological. Moreover, Gurov “feels the force of life weakening within him”, that is because “[h]is Don Juan illusions about himself have faded” [13, p. 23]. After Anna and Gurov have made love for the first time, she grouches about being disrespectful and considers herself as being despised by Gurov. She keeps addressing him with the Russian polite plural pronoun of you “Вы”, while Gurov addresses her, using the familiar form “Ты” [13, p. 15-16]. Conversely, when he approaches her in the theatre for the first time since they have split up, things turn out the way they have been. Gurov this time addresses her using the polite plural form of you “Вы”, while Anna for the first time responds to his questions when she meets him in Moscow, using the intimate form “Ты” [13, p. 21-22]. This change from the familiar to the polite form in talking has a significant menaning. Chekhov here wants to show to the readers how Gurov, after falling in love, is deprived of his feelings of self-importance. This certainly proves Freud’s previously mentioned idea of men’s ego with the love object. Gurov’s ego turns out to be more and more modest while the love object itself, which represent Anna, increasingly becomes valuable.
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog” can be interpreted in the light of what is known in psychology as “overwhelming trauma”. The latter is mostly represented in the characters of Jay Gatsby, and Dmitri Gurov. According to Bessel A. Van Der Kolk, Traumatization arises when “both internal and external resources are inadequate to cope with external threat” [22, p. 393]; which means that the traumatized person is unable to deal with other external obstacles and Gatsby is traumatized as a result of his relationship with Daisy. Gatsby experiences the biggest and first trauma in his life when he loses Daisy. After he first fell in love with Daisy, “the first ‘nice’ girl he had ever known” [5, p. 158], she unexpectedly “vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby—nothing” [5, p. 159]. Gatsby is described as having an overwhelmed fragmented ego after his loss, unable to deal with external problems. Nick notes in the story that the traumatized protagonist's words echo “something—an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I [Nick] had heard somewhere along time ago” [5, p. 119]. He sees that “Jay Gatsby had broken up like glass” [5, p. 158]. It is very clear from the sentences above that Gatsby’s personality becomes fragile to challenge things and situations. In “The Lady with the Dog”, after Gurov says goodbye to Anna in Yalta, he feels slightly “moved, sad, and conscious of a slight remorse” [13, p. 121]. The only difference between Gatsby and Gurov concerning their traumatization is that Gatsby feels devastated since the first time he lost Daisy. In contrast, when Gurov loses Anna for the first time he does not seem as totally traumatized; rather, he slightly regrets his inability to make her happy, although she has seen him different and has “constantly called him kind, exceptional, high-minded” [13, p. 121]. Furthermore, Gurov starts to feel himself completely unstable nearly a month after his return to Moscow. Since Anna seems to be the real love he has never have before, Gurov experiences the biggest trauma in his life after losing her. In Moscow, he turns to be a desperate person with an overwhelmed fragmented ego, unable to deal with external engagements. Struggling with vivid memories of Anna in his mind, he finds himself resenting his everyday life activities and responsibilities; “[h]e was sick of his children, sick of the bank; he had no desire to go anywhere or to talk of anything” [13, p. 123].
Accordingly, both Gurov and Gatsby tend to live in an imaginative world after they have lost their beloved women. Gatsby for instance gets himself isolated from the outside world, living alone with his fantasies, hoping to meet Daisy again. Nick becomes aware of Gatsby’s separation from the world; he comments: “[h]e [Gatsby] was content to be alone” [5, p. 24]. And even being at the midst of his extravagant parities, all he does is gazing at his guests, “standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes” [5, p. 55]. This description gives the impression of how lonely Gatsby as if he lives in another world. Marius Bewley opines that: “Gatsby’s vision maintains its gigantic unreal stature. It imposes a rhythm on his guests which they accept in terms of their own tawdry illusions, having no conception of the compulsion that drives him to offer them the hospitality of his fabulous wealth” [5, p. 42]. Likewise, Gurov is described in Chekhov’s short story as living in an isolated world which is different from his reality. His memories with Anna in Yalta haunts him wherever he goes and whatever he does. Chekhov accurately describes his obsession with Anna, by stating:
“When in the evening stillness he heard from his study the voices of his children, preparing their lessons, or when he listened to a song or the organ at the restaurant, or the storm howled in the chimney, suddenly everything would rise up in his memory: what had happened on the groyne, and the early morning with the mist on the mountains, and the steamer coming from Theodosia, and the kisses” [13, p. 122].
Gurov’s obsession with his memories with Anna is so intense that they pass into his dreams, and follow him in all places like a shadow [13, p. 122]. Unlike Gatsby who constantly lives in one isolated hidden world after losing Daisy, Gurov discovers that he has two lives; one which is “open, seen and known by all who cared to know, full of relative truth and of relative falsehood, exactly like the lives of friends and acquaintances; and another life running its course in secret” [13, p. 124]. Ironically, Gurov’s public life does not matter to him anymore; now, he is more into his secret life with Anna. Rosen explains that Gurov’s “true, authentic life is secret, and it consists of his love for Anna Sergeevna” [19, p. 22]. Yet the difference between Gatsby and Gurov is that although Gatsby lives in a complete isolation; however; he finds comfort talking to Nick Carraway, who devotedly listens to his struggling in his love life. Nick declares: “He [Gatsby] talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that we wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy” [5, p. 118]. Nick seems to understand and care about Gatsby’s suffering. He even takes his side at the end, since he states “I found myself on Gatsby’s side and alone” [5, p. 164]. On the other hand, Gurov has had a strong desire to admit his feelings for Anna, but he cannot find anyone trustful and compassionate for this; “in his home it was impossible to talk of his love, and he had no one outside; he could not talk to his tenants nor to any one at the bank” [13, p. 122]. Even when he tries to talk about Anna with a friend of his at the club, he is not taken seriously by him; his friend answers him instead, making an observation about the smell of the sturgeon they have eaten before. This observation “fills him with anger because it takes the place of what he wanted to say about Anna” [19, p. 19].
Freud’s description of “overwhelming trauma” enables us to understand the case of both Gatsby and Gurov after falling in love. He continues: It is possible, too, that a traumatic experience shatters the foundation of a person's life to the point where he loses all interest in the present and future and becomes permanently immersed in mental concentration on the past; "shattered self", that is, a disordered personality, is a distinct theoretical formulation than symptoms based on widespread unconscious conflict. [11, p. 20]. The traumatized person loses the notion of time, and becomes a prisoner of the past. All of these symptoms can perfectly apply to both of them. For Gatsby, time has stopped at a certain point in his past when he became traumatized. Since then, he has been repeating his life because it is the only way for him to revive all of his memories. Thus, Gatsby represents the traumatized person who “cannot resume the normal course of [his life]” [10, p. 37]. He feels, according to the psychiatrist Judith Lewis Herman, “as if time stops at the moment of trauma. The traumatic moment becomes encoded in […] [a] form of memory” [10, p. 37]. Gatsby’s obsession with his past life memories can be clearly perceived through his conversation with his friend. When Nick reminds him of the impossibility of repeating the past, Gatsby replies: “Why of course you can!” [5, p. 118]. Nick describes Gatsby’s look while saying it as wild “as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his [Gatsby’s] hand” [5, p. 118]. In the same way, time has completely stopped for Gurov at the moments when he was in Yalta with his beloved Anna. He is reliving them, in an attempt to stimulate all his memories with her. Chekhov depicts Gurov after his separation with Anna as an emotionally traumatized man, who “would pace a long time about his room, remembering it all and smiling; […][h]is memories passed into dreams, and in his fancy the past was mingled with what was to come” [13, p. 122]. The latter sentence corresponds to Freud’s description of a traumatized person; since Gurov loses the ability to distinguish the past from the present and the future. Moreover he turns to be a prisoner of his past life memories with Anna. He feels that “there is no escaping or getting away from it—just as though one were in a madhouse or a prison” [13, p. 123].
For Gatsby, eventually, dwelling on the past has dramatic effects; it shatters his identity and ruins his present as well as his future. The determination of Gatsby and Gurov to return to the past can probably aim to change their traumatic breakups. Gatsby’s loss of Daisy made “his life […] distorted since then” [5-118]. As well, Gurov, after losing Anna, vainly looks for “someone like her” [13, p. 122]. Judith Herman proclaims that: “Sometimes people reenact the traumatic moment with a fantasy of changing the outcome of the dangerous encounter. In their attempts to undo the traumatic moment, survivors may even put themselves at risk of further harm” [10, p. 39]. Survivors repeat the traumatic moments in their brains over and over, with delusions about their ability to modify what happened. In The Great Gatsby, Nick's portrayal of Gatsby's feelings about Daisy perfectly represents this viewpoint. He says: “He [Gatsby] felt married to her, that was all” [5, p. 159]. This statement exposes Gatsby's delusion that he can change the past, and instead of Daisy is married to Tom, he imagines himself as her spouse. Likewise, as the Chekhov’s story goes on, Gurov becomes emotionally attached to Anna until he feels that they are married. Chekhov states: “Anna Sergeyevna and he loved each other like people very close and akin, like husband and wife, like tender friends” [13, p. 126]. The only difference between Gatsby and Gurov here is that the intimacy between Gurov and Anna is mutual, while it is not the same case with Gatsby.
Traumatized people are meant only, according to Freud, to “repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience instead […] [of] remembering it as something belonging to the past” [9, p. 18]. The "repetition compulsion," as defined by Sigmund Freud, is a psychological phenomena in which a person constantly repeats a painful event or its consequences. The trauma can be repeated either through memories or through actions, and this is what actually happens to both Gatsby and Gurov. When we long for the past, going over it again and again in our minds, we can fall short of realizing that the past events cannot be necessarily the same as the one we've resurrected in our minds. Herman contends: “Just as traumatic memories are unlike ordinary memories have a number of unusual qualities” [10, p. 37]. In Traumatic memories, “the experience may lose its quality of ordinary reality. The person may feel as through the event is not happening [at all]” [10, p. 43], or may even go through just fragments of the traumatic event itself, accompanied sometimes with a little imaginative expansion [10, p. 39]. In fact, what one remembers from the traumatic event is not always what actually happened. Although Daisy proved to be imperfect in The Great Gatsby , Gatsby keeps seeing and describing her as an idealized and ethereal woman. The image Gatsby had conjured up in his imagination about Daisy for years does not correspond to her in reality. Nick comments later on:
There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of [Gatsby's] dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart [5, p. 103].
Gatsby spends the present time recollecting memories of those “perfect” past moments with Daisy, at least as he imagines. These memories, on the other hand, are so bright that they blind him to what is genuine and what is not. This distortion of real memories mainly acts as a protector for him from the pain that his trauma caused. In “The Lady with the Dog” as well, Gurov unceasingly spends the winter, recalling memories of those past moments with Anna in Yalta; he strongly idealizes Anna and his days with her, even if she has not seemed to him as perfect in the very beginning. Chekhov describes Gurov when he starts to fall in love with Anna. He writes: “When he shut his eyes he saw her as though she were living before him, and she seemed to him lovelier, younger, tenderer than she was; and he imagined himself finer than he had been in Yalta” [13, p. 133]. After his separation from Anna, Gurov does not stop repeating his memories with her and their sudden traumatic breakup; he “is idealizing Anna, and begins to want to live up to her idealization of him” [19, p. 19].
Conceivably, the emotional trauma of Gatsby and Gurov can be further analyzed by comparing it to that of Freud, whose half-brother, Emanuel, was killed during Austria’s war. This caused Freud a tremendous sorrow, as they had always been together since they were children [3, p. 3]. As a result, Sigmund Freud began the year 1915 with a profound sense of trauma. Trevor Lubbe quotes from Freud’s letter to Abraham in which he writes: “At present I am as in a polar night and am waiting for the sun to rise” [14, p. 102]. Here, we notice that Freud refers to his trauma, as “a polar night”. This reminds us, in a way or another, of the darkness in the life of Gurov and Gatsby after their traumatic separation from their beloved women. Nick in his description of Gatsby states: “[h]e [Gatsby] stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way” [5, p. 24]. The water in Fitzgerald’s novel is literally separating Gatsby’s house from Daisy’shouse; it is described by Nick as being dark to express Gatsby’s trauma due to his separation from Daisy. In the same way and after the train moves off carrying Anna away from him, Gurov stands alone on the platform, “gazing into the dark distance” [13, p. 121]. Chekhov describes the distance between Gurov and Anna in this moment as being dark. Writing “dark distance”, Chekhov is definitely referring to Gurov’s trauma after this sudden separation from Anna. The expressions of “polar night”, “dark water and “dark distance” share the notion of “darkness”, which can possibly be associated with traumatized people.
Both Anton Chekhov and F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced stories similar to theirs, concerning their love affairs. The protagonists, Gatsby in The Great Gatsby and Gurov in “The Lady with The Dog”, experienced desperate love with married women. Analyzing the themes of love and trauma, we can conclude that the two stories are similar to a far extent. According to the Freudian view of love is that, when man falls in love he over valuate the woman he falls in love with. Both Gatsby and Gurov are deprived of their self-importance when they truly fall in love. Furthermore, the ego ideal for both of them is unattained. Gatsby’s love for Daisy, who belongs to a wealthy bourgeois family, is an alternative of his unattained ego ideal and his dissatisfaction with his social situation as he is considered to belong to the “nouveaux riches”. Same for Gurov who is dissatisfied with his marriage, and he is looking for an alternative for his unattained ego ideal and true love which is absent in his relationship with his wife. One can argue that Anna serves as a substitute for Gurov’s unattained ego ideal. In addition to that, Gatsby and Dmitri Gurov are the most prominent representation of overwhelming trauma introduced by Freud. Both of them experienced the biggest trauma of their lives after they lost their beloved women. Freud explained that the traumatized person loses the notion of time and becomes psychologically prisoner of the past. That is why time stops for them when they were separated with their beloved ladies. Despite that Daisy and Anna prove imperfection; however, they are still idealised and over valuated. Because Gatsby and Gurov could not take the pain of separation, they tried to overcome the trauma each by his own way. For Gatsby, he tries to overcome trauma by throwing lavish parties every now and then for the whole resident of the city hoping for Daisy to show out at one of that parties. While Gurov isolates himself from everyone, hunted by the idea of Anna and the days spent together in Yalta. This is called, according to Freud, “the repetition compulsion” which describes a situation where the traumatized person keeps repeating events happened at the time of the trauma. Thus, both of them kept recalling good memories, obsessed with the past and are blinded to see the reality. Living in the allusion of the past costs Gatsby his life and Gurov his peace of mind.