Self-Development and Self-Realization in Short Stories

Often readers view short stories being deprived of consistent changes concerning their main characters. However, often characters of short stories are susceptible to considerable changes to the extent that it is possible to speak about their self-development and self-realization within a short story. In this respect, it is possible to refer to such short stories as “The Picture” by Nawal Al-Saadawi, “The Lady with a Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov, “Hills Like White Elephants” by Earnest Hemingway and many others. In such a way, it is obvious that characters of short stories can change in the course of a short story, while protagonists of the aforementioned short stories proved to be able to self-development and self-realization, though such changes are not always easy for the main characters of short stories that increases the dramatic tension conveyed within short stories. In such a context, the self-development and self-realization of female characters is particularly noteworthy because often they are treated as second-class citizens, inferior to men.
In actuality, short stories college essay writing service “The Lady with a Pet Dog” by Anton Chekhov and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Earnest Hemingway as well as Nawal Al-Saadawi’s “The Picture” are particularly noteworthy because they reveal the actual position of women and those difficulties they face in their life, which are provoked by their inferior position compared to men. In fact, all of the aforementioned short-stories involve female characters which are treated as second-class citizens. Moreover, it is even possible to estimate that women are viewed as a kind of commodities which men are playing with as if they were puppets and men were puppeteers. For instance, Gurov, the main character of “The Lady with a Pet Dog”, speaks about women as “lower race” (Chekhov, 53). The same attitude to women can be traced in the short story “The Picture” written by Nawal Al-Saadawi, where the main character suffers from a severe oppression from the part of men. In this regard, the position of the female character of “Hills Like White Elephants” by Earnest Hemingway is not much better because the woman, Jig, also has to obey to the American, though it is not really clear is it the decision of her own or not and, what is more, Hemingway leaves the denouement of his short story open so that it is unclear what a decision the woman has actually taken.

Nevertheless, all of the stories mentioned above reveal that women are vulnerable to the impact of men, who apparently play the dominant role. In addition, protagonists of the short stories undergo certain self-development and self-realization, which forces them to change their views on their own self as well as on their life at large.
In this respect, it should be said that the position of protagonists of short stories basically implies the change, which is not difficult to start and even more difficult to accomplish. For instance, the main character of “The Lady with a Pet Dog”, Gurov, leads a frivolous life. In spite of the fact that he has a family and two children, he still has affairs with other women, even though it contradicts to moral norms and principles of Russian society. However, he ignore all the moral principles and ethical norms as long as he meets his own needs and interests. His entire life is a life for his own sake. In such a situation his attitude to women is quite strange and even paradoxical. At first glance, he is extremely haughty in relation to women. It is even possible to say that he feels contempt to them. He apparently gets used to treat them as second class people, as “lower race”. Although, he cannot afford living without women. He is always involved in new affairs that make his life purposeful. However, in the course of the short story he arrives to the realization of the fact that he cannot afford living without women, in spite of his contempt: “It seemed to him that he had been so schooled by bitter experience, that he might call them [women] what he liked, and yet he could not get on for two days together without “the lower race” (Chekhov, 54). Thus, he needs women and, in such a context, his superior attitude to women turns out to be strange even for himself. It is obvious that, in actuality, he needs women more than women need him, but he cannot help from treating them as the lower race and keep developing new affairs with new women. In such a way, the author shows the self-development and self-realization of the protagonist as a man who is unable to resist to his own desires and inclinations, even though he is “schooled by bitter experience”.
In this respect, “Hills Like White Elephants” seems to be different from “The Lady with a Pet Dog” because the main character of the short story, Jig, undergoes a considerable internal struggle in which she has to take a decision concerning the abortion. At this point, it is also important to lay emphasis on the dominant role of a man, the American who attempts to talk Jig in taking decision in favor of the abortion. Even though the author presents the story quite fragmentary and the reader learns about the abortion only from the context and fragments of the conversation of the two characters, it is still obvious that the woman is against the abortion at the beginning of the story.
However, the American’s insistence and, probably superior position, forces the woman to agree or, at least, show that she is ready to consider the suggestion of the American since she eventually assents to the operation and says: “I don’t care about me” (Hemingway, 67). In such a way, the author shows that Jig is ready to sacrifice the life of her child for the sake of her man and, what is more, she puts under a threat her own life, if she agrees with the American’s suggestion. Thus, the protagonist undergoes a process of self-realization as she evolves from a woman, whose life and the life of her child are in her own hands, into a personality, totally dependent on the man whom she loves. Although, Hemingway, does not really provide a clear denouement of the short story and leaves the audience in uncertainty concerning the future of the protagonist, but it is obvious that she, her personality, is changed dramatically.
Obviously, the short stories reveal the evolution of main characters, though this evolution does not really bring positive changes in the behavior of the main characters. In fact, it is rather an internal change which proves that the characters are imperfect and they live in an unjust world, where people are not equal, but the characters are not really able to change their life. Although they change their personalities, their views and beliefs, but these changes can hardly bring any positive effects. For instance, it is hardly possible to believe that Jig will be happy with the American as she shows that her own life is worth nothing for her, while the opinion of the American is everything. On the other hand, the main characters, like Gurov, can arrive to self-realization, to understanding of their own self, which is far from being perfect, but they are unable to change their own self and, thus, doomed to keep living their usual, routine life.
In such a way, the authors of the aforementioned stories show the difficult position of women and their vulnerability to the impact of men, who apparently does not really care of women, including those whom they love or pretend to love. At the same time, the characters of the short stories are susceptible to self-development and self-realization. However, such a kind of self-development and self-realization leads to quite controversial results. On the one hand, the personality and the life of the main characters change, while on the other hand, the main characters are unable to change anything in their life. Nevertheless, whether there are any changes or not, the characters of short stories discussed above are unable to change the existing socio-cultural norms, which put women in a disadvantageous position compared to men that is clearly thing in the aforementioned short stories.

Works Cited:
Al-Saadawi, N. “The Picture.” Selected Short-Stories. Selected Short-Stories. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Chekhov, A. “The Lady with a Pet Dog.” Selected Works. New York: Penguin Classics, 2004.
Hemingway, E. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Selected Works. New York: Penguin Classics, 2002.

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