"The Lottery Ticket" Analysis: the Nature of Dmitritch's Greed
From the short story “The lottery ticket” authored by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Ivan Dmitritch is the main leading character, who plays a pivotal role in portraying the avaricious and greed trait in mankind. “It will be a new life; it will be a new transformation”. The strong eagerness and insatiable desire of Ivan Dmitritch to become an affluent person that owns an uncountable amount of wealth and material are embedded in this quote and it strongly adheres to the plot of the story. This connects to the title “Dreams of Avarice” and shows us a symbolic fundamental disposition of greediness. The short story introduces Ivan who seems to already have a fulfilling life with his family, thinks that his wife, Masha is the lottery winner with just checking the series but not the number of the ticket. Since then, he begins to hallucinate about being filthy rich, having sweet thoughts of a new transformation of his life. However, the story comes to a disheartening ending that he realizes that he wins nothing but lose the bond of trust with his wife. Therefore, upon deeper investigation, Chekhov intends to express that the power of financial windfall or overemphasis on money has the potential tendency to reveal an individual’s greediness and also break the relationship bond in human beings as we begin to treat others unpleasantly. This 'The Lottery Ticket' summary essay aims to make a detailed character analysis on Ivan Dmitritch based on one significant trait that can be easily seen throughout the story ─ greed.
The Greedy Personality of Ivan Dmitritch
The thoughts of greed enter Ivan’s mind at the moment of he is consented to check the winning list and has caught a glimpse of the series figure 9,499. It’s “just as though someone had given him a douche of cold water, he felt an agreeable chill in the pit of the stomach”. This quote showcases Ivan’s greed as he thinks he might be the lottery winner even though after all, it is not his ticket but his wife’s. It also suggests that Ivan is excited and stunned by the possibility of winning as he acts like a toddler, smiling to an adult when “a bright object is shown” to him. This is the time when Ivan is feeling that his life is full of hopes and aspirations. He begins to judge money from a different perspective and perceives it as an indication of capital and power, reflecting the materialism of society. “What if we really have won” and “the possibility of winning bewildered [him]”, these reactions highlight how keen he wishes to be the winner to fulfil his desires. It has also further supported a citation by Andy Stanley: “greed is supported by an endless cast of what-ifs” (“quotefancy, n”); a man’s greed is the foe of his heart. From that moment, a sense of dissatisfaction in his ordinary life can be felt as Ivan starts to imagine vividly about pursuing material possessions like the riches such as an estate, travel abroad, pay debts, instant expenses and so on. Besides that, a comparison between his ideal house (an estate) and the house his family is living in can be seen at the end of the short story, describing that “their rooms were dark and small and low-pitched”. This reaction completely contradicts the beginning line of the short story, describing that Ivan is “very well satisfied with his lot', as when it comes to the aspect of financial windfall, he becomes discontented with what he already has in his present life and hopes to acquire beyond his needs. It also stresses that money can make alterations towards a person’s viewpoints about life expectations when he is withdrawn into his world as well as his mind has been corrupted by the thoughts of avarice and greed.
Moreover, Ivan Dmitritch perfectly exemplifies his greedy personalities from how he yearns so much of a life filled with peace and serenity as well as the pursuit of liberty to please his happiness. His imaginations fully occupy his mind, take his soul away. From the short story, Ivan pictures himself “well-fed, serene, healthy, felt warm, even hot” immersed in a calm, relaxing and carefree environment. “The river”, “garden under the lime-tree” and the “hayfield or forest”, these are all what he always has been wanting for. He could sit back and experience the four seasons for the first time in his life and gain life joy and happiness. It can also be argued that Ivan’s current life might not be peaceful and undisturbed so that is why he thinks that the winnings from the lottery ticket is an avenue for him to make a change in his life and he can chase after the ideal life that he always make dreams of. In addition to this, he visualizes himself freed from the hectic and stressful workplace, need not struggle and be buried with the heavy workload and troubles. Apart from this, Ivan claims that his wife “would begrudge [him] every farthing”, providing a hint of his greedy disposition that he is afraid that his wife would not allow him to get “out of her sight” and would thwart his happiness as he wants to spend the lottery winnings freely and do what he feels like doing without being restrained by his wife. Clearly, Ivan expresses the degree of his displeasure and an eagerness of freedom when he pictures himself being under his wife’s supervision and control. Another example that can prove that Ivan represents the trait of greediness is from the angry expression of his wife’s eyes, hints us Ivan has an insatiable appetite and how greedy he does not mind to go to any length just to acquire his wants and needs, even it is “at other people’s expense”. All the evidence presented above asserts that there is a strong wish and greed of liberal indulgence in life from Ivan as he shows that he is unhappy with his current circumstances, both at home and at work.
Furthermore, the greedy characteristic is unveiled when Ivan does not realize his unpleasant and cold attitude towards his wife and others. As the story develops and expands, the menacing atmosphere intensifies because the greed nature takes over him entirely and gives birth to all his selfishness and ill-thoughts (“sittingbee”). From the short story, he illustrates himself like an adolescent, “young, fresh, and healthy” and is capable of having a second marriage. Conversely, he criticizes his wife like a granny, an unattractive old woman that he is not interested anymore as her body is soaked with the stinky cooking oil smell. It can be argued that the relationship bond and foundation of marriage between Ivan and his wife are fragile and shaky, hence he gets easily defeated by the temptation of a sudden financial windfall. It also provides us information about the underlying motive of remarrying is to seek satisfaction and please himself even though he already has a wife in his house. Therefore, the assumption can be made is, a person will always think that he deserves better and more even after gaining what he wants as it is never enough to satisfy a man’s greed. At the same time, the greed disposition is also portrayed when Ivan exemplifies irrational behaviour to his family and relatives which reigns over the later part of the short story. For instance, he chastises his close family members for being such loathsome men and women, moaning and whining like vagabonds or beggars when they heard of their “good news”. Notably, even though Ivan may have an extra cash flow, his greedy personality suggests us that he has got no conscience at all because he would choose not to share his wealth to the ones who are really in need, instead, he would rather entertain himself to achieve more contentment and happiness. The evidence and examples stated above disclose a hidden message about the potential prospect of money not only could reflect the greedy quality of a person, but also drive an individual to resent and turn on the people surrounding him, even those whom he always cares about.
In essence, this essay depicts the dramatic emotional transitions of Ivan Dmitritch as well as the resulting impacts on himself and others, in particular when he suspects himself to have an unexpected windfall. This is because, “damnation takes [his] soul entirely'; greed often blinds humans and can never be fulfilled. Thus, when an individual is having ill thoughts in mind, he becomes discontented, leading to an increase in aspirations and desires. After all, he falls victim to his own lust for the gain of money and power. This is an infinite cycle that Chekhov refers to the elemental attribute of human. The underlying message that Chekhov intends to express through “The lottery ticket” is greed will exhaust us and dehumanize us into very irrational and unreasonable people. The most compelling evidence about this is when Ivan is harsh towards his wife and family, results in loosening the relationship bond within them. As a result, Ivan’s life is miserable and horrible at the end of the story when the hopes of winning the lottery ticket have diverted their excitement into exasperation and resentment. Given these points, the value of this short story is to tell the importance of being contented and again emphasizes on the fact that money does not buy happiness and contentment, it changes a person’s perspective drastically and makes the person becomes completely oblivious to his surroundings when the greediness in his inner self is exposed.
- Chekhov, Anton. “The Lottery Ticket.” ibiblio.org. Eldritch Press, 26 Aug. 1999. www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/ac/jr/110.htm. Accessed 21 Mar. 2020.
- McManus, Dermot. “The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekhov.” The Sitting Bee, 14 Mar. 2017, sittingbee.com/the-lottery-ticket-anton-chekhov/.
- Stanley, Andy. “Quotes about Greed.” Quotefancy, quotefancy.com/andy-stanley-quotes.
- “The Lottery Ticket Analysis.” StudyMoose, 4 Oct. 2016, studymoose.com/the-lottery-ticket-analysis-essay.