Anton Chekovs Short Story Gooseberries Philosophy Essay

Two main characters of Anton Chekov’s short story ‘Gooseberries’, Ivan Ivanich and Nikolai are two brothers, both of them have very different view towards happiness. Ivan actually the narrator of this story introduces his brother Nikolai and his attitudes toward happiness which he totally disagrees. Ivan who is a veterinary surgeon by profession believes that happiness derives from freedom, justice, and morality where as Nikolai’s optimum happiness comes by eating gooseberries of his own land. Ivan’s opinion of true happiness from liberty and morality forces him to completely contradict that of his brother and most societies. It is this opinion that forces him to redefine what it is to live and ultimately what it means to be truly happy.

Ivan begins to tell his tale by introducing his brother Nikolai who is an office clerk and dreams about his own land under the shiny sun and fresh air. Meaning of joy for Nikolai is books on agriculture and hints in almanacs. His highest happiness arrives, when he gets success; and his success is own farm with gooseberry plants. Nikolai’s happiness is limited within a gooseberry farm. He does not care how much time he spends to own a land? How does he live his life? And how many people does he make unhappy and assaulted just to accomplish his dream. It is impossible for Nikolai to imagine a good house, a romantic spot without a gooseberry bush. Even though, he gets married to an old wealthy widow, his thrifty lifestyle pushes that innocent lady to death, which Nikolai does not lament about. He continuously under treats many people including himself to just for a land. His sparkling eyes and excited and excited tone of voice resemble the level of happiness when he eats the gooseberries of his own farm for the very first time. For Ivan, those berries were un ripen and sour, however, Nikolai does not taste them as sour and does not see them un ripen, those are the most delicious berries in an entire world. Ivan sees his brother as a happy child whose dream has just become true and of course, that is the Gooseberries from his farm which is his biggest victory.

Similarly, for the narrator or Ivan, happiness comes from freedom and he respects his father and grandfather who struggle their whole life to provide freedom to their children which means happiness for him. He strongly supports liberty and shows characteristic of utilitarian personnel. He never agrees with Nikolai’s view and never sympathizes with his desire to enclose himself for rest of the life in a little farm with gooseberry bushes. Ivan’s opinion toward true happiness contradicts opinion of Nikolai and of most societies, which Ivan believes fake and unhealthy happiness. The meaning of true happiness for Ivan reflects when he comments on one statement of his brother, "…a man does not need six feet of land, not a farm, but he needs the whole earth, all nature, where in full liberty he can display all the qualities and properties of the free spirit." (From text) Ivan clearly says that country life is not a life-it is egoism, laziness, and monasticism without action.

Nikolai becomes obsessive and greedy about money and gooseberries and he leaves his government job and commits to buy a land for his own pursuit of happiness. Ivan believes his brother is buying the ‘six feet of land’ for a corpse not the true happiness. He does not know how to swim therefore has not been to the depth of happiness. He measures the depth of happiness by living on a shallow. By speaker’s voice, Nikolai’s happiness depends upon his obsession, selfishness, and …..Ivan or the speaker is closer to the society with people who do well for society. On the other hand, blind whims and wishes of Nikolai and true nature of society never can get along. For narrator, Nikolai cannot and never can be happy because his happiness is based on the unhappiness of others. For Ivan, something greater than materialism, higher than achievement, and more precious than wealth is true happiness. To be at depth of this happiness it is extremely important to be rational and broad minded.

Overall, in the story ‘Gooseberries’ narrator speaks about the one highest good-happiness for both brothers but different opinions about it. The perfect world for Nikolai has a factitious happiness which has pillar of miserable silence and powerful greediness. On the other hand, Ivan’s world bases upon those living beings of a society who are bonded with the thread of love, respect, and morality. Of course, Ivan’s broad vision towards happiness overcomes Nikolai’s limited one. Ivan’s view towards happiness stands for whole earth where as Nikolai’s just for his country life. It means Ivan’s approach to happiness seems more effective than Nikolai’s. In fact, Nikolai’s happiness is self-centered and pitiful; Ivan’s happiness is hard to cultivate, however best to have.