Transgression by Anton Chekhov

This is another of those neat stories that show protagonists that fail to change.  A maid has just threatened the main character on their love child.  She threatens to leave the baby on his doorstep and cause a scandal. Some time later, the main character picks up a baby at his doorstep.  He deliberates on what to do with the baby.  Does he go to his wife and beg for her forgiveness?  Or does he abandon the baby on the doorstep of a merchant?  There is a tug of war between his reputation, his guilt, his morality.  In the end he decides to beg his wife and to persuade her to  accept the baby (the wife is barren). So you think whew! The MC has done the right thing.

However, as soon as the MC lays the baby at his wife’s feet.  He runs out of the house, deeply ashamed and frightened.  Outside he learns that baby was not actually his baby and the mother is crying helter-skelter to find it.  He returns to his wife and tell her that he was joking about his adultery.  And the story ends.

Neat isn’t it?  The MC didn’t change in the end.  His epiphany was a false epiphany, or  he would have come clean and done right by his maid and his love child.  Certainly something to think about some more.


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