The Bear Summary by Anton Chekhov

A Loyal Widow

The story revolves around Mrs Elena Popova who is mourning her dead husband Nicholas. She is consoled by her servant Luka who want her to move on in life. Elena disagrees and tells him that she will never come out of mourning or from the room itself. She pledges to never see another man in her lifetime.

Luka tries to encourage her to look beyond her loss as she was still young and beautiful but it is too avail. Elena is hell-bent on spending the rest of her life remembering her husband who unfortunately was not as loyal to her in return.

Gregory Smirnov Enters

Then suddenly there is a knock on the door. It is Gregory Smirnov, the moneylender who is seeking to recover his loan from Helen’s husband. He storms inside the house and Elena demands an explanation for such lack of courtesy.

Smirnov claims that he needs his money back and that he himself had borrowed money from a bank. Helen says that she does not have the money and ask her to come back in a few days. However, Smirnov insists that he needed the money urgently. 

Things escalate and lead to name-calling. Smirnov calls out Elena for a contest based in her claims for femininstic equality. Elena condemns Smirnov’s behaviour calling him a rude ‘bear’ and unworthy to talk to.

Eventually, she accepts his challenge and threatens him with her late husband’s gun. However, she does not know how to operate the arms and asks Smirnov to teach her instead.

Smirnov Falls in Love

Smirnov is fascinated by her strength, spirit and fierceness. During the lesson, Smirnov starts to feel attracted to Elena but she is disgusted with even the thought of such union. Smirnov is completely smitten and says that he would be happy to die at her hands and ends up kissing her. He goes on to propose her for marriage. 

Gradually, Elena’s heart melts and she falls for him as well. Smirnov insists that he has to leave the place to tend to his ailing family. However, Elena asks him to stay and proclaims her love for him.