How important is “time” in the Three Sisters?
In Chekhov's Three Sisters, “time” is one of the key themes discussed. The three sisters, Olga, Masha and Irina live with one dream: to someday return to Moscow. The issue of time continuously appears to be brought up in various parts of the play.
One of the most noticeable aspects in the play is the love of the three sisters for lamenting their past and wishing for things to go back to how they were. This gives an insight into the characters of Olga, Masha and Irina and portrays them as people who struggle to move on in life because they keep trying to relive the past. This also suggests that time is slowly coming to a halt in their lives as a result of their refusal to go along with what fate, or time, is bringing to them. This is demonstrated in the way they constantly fantasize about going to Moscow, but never attempt to try, even though they are financially able to travel there:
OLGA. And the only thing that gets stronger, is one single dream...
IRINA. To go to Moscow. To sell up the house, to finish with everything here, and off to
Moscow... (act 1)
This seems to relate to their lives and hints that as they do not progress, neither does time.
Chekhov also highlights the theme of time through symbolism. One such example takes place in Act 3, where the characters talk about the fire. It is significant that at this exactmoment, Chebutykin should drop a clock. A clock, which keeps, records and determines time, seems to represent the “time” in the sisters' life and the fact that it is broken suggests Chekhov's intention to hint at the decaying lives of the three sisters and how time is no longer moving with them. This idea may also be interpretated more specifically to Irina's “We'll be leaving too!” (page 56). The clock breaking straight after her statement seems to indicate that her claim will not really happen as time has already run out, or stopped, for them.
Similarly, the Acts...