Welcome to our collection of “50 Great Short Stories PDF,” where we’ve gathered the top 50 short stories of all time for you to enjoy and download for free. Among these literary gems, you will find Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” a chilling tale that has left an indelible mark on American literature. Experience the Southern gothic charm of Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” or delve into the psychological horror of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Discover the haunting beauty of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and the thought-provoking dystopia of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Whether you are drawn to the poignant simplicity of O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” or the surreal transformation in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” there is something in this collection for every reader. Enjoy exploring these masterpieces and the many other exceptional works in our “50 Great Short Stories PDF” collection.

The Lottery (1948) by Shirley Jackson book PDF

01. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

In a small, seemingly idyllic village, the residents gather annually for a ritual known as “the lottery.” On a warm June day, the townspeople, including children, assemble in the village square…Read Online and Free Download

Free short stories - The Tell-Tale Heart by Ray Bradbury book PDF

02. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is a classic short story that delves into themes of guilt, paranoia, and madness. The story is narrated by an unnamed character who insists on their sanity despite having committed a murder. The narrator lives with an old man who has a pale blue…Read Online and Free Download

English Books PDF - The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

03. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a powerful short story that addresses themes of mental illness, gender roles, and the oppressive nature of societal expectations. The story is presented as a series of journal entries written by an unnamed woman who is suffering from what appears to be postpartum depression…Read Online and Free Download

Short Story for Intermediate level PDF - The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry

04. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry is a poignant short story that explores themes of love, sacrifice, and the true spirit of giving. The story is set on Christmas Eve and centers around a young married couple, Jim and Della Dillingham, who are struggling financially…Read Online and Free Download

The Dead by james joyce PDF

05. “The Dead” by James Joyce

“The Dead” by James Joyce is the final story in his collection Dubliners and is widely regarded as one of his greatest works. The story is set during a holiday party hosted by two elderly sisters, Kate and Julia Morkan, and their niece Mary Jane, in Dublin. The main character, Gabriel Conroy, attends the party with his wife, Gretta…Read Online and Free Download

Learn English through audio stories- To Build a Fire by Jack London

06. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

“To Build a Fire” by Jack London is a gripping short story that illustrates the struggle between man and nature. The story is set in the harsh, frigid wilderness of the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush. The protagonist is an unnamed man who is traveling alone with his dog to meet his companions at a distant camp…Read Online and Free Download

Short story PDF - The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

07. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell is a thrilling short story that explores themes of survival, civilization versus savagery, and the hunter becoming the hunted. The story begins with Sanger Rainsford, a skilled big-game hunter, traveling on a yacht in the Caribbean Sea…Read Online and Free Download

English Story Books Level 6 PDF - An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

08. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce is a compelling short story set during the American Civil War, known for its surprise ending and exploration of the boundaries between reality and illusion. The story opens with a man named Peyton Farquhar standing on a railroad bridge, his hands bound and a noose around his neck…Read Online and Free Download

bartleby the scrivener pdf

09. “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville

“Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville is a thought-provoking short story that explores themes of isolation, passive resistance, and the dehumanizing effects of modern capitalism. The story is narrated by a lawyer who runs a law office on Wall Street in New York City. He employs several scriveners, or copyists, to handle the tedious work of copying legal documents…Read Online and Free Download

English book PDF - The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway

10. The Snows of Kilimanjaro

“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway is a poignant short story that explores themes of regret, mortality, and the unfulfilled potential of a writer. The story is set in Africa, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, where a writer named Harry lies dying from gangrene in his leg. Harry and his wife, Helen, are on a safari, but an accident has left Harry injured and unable to get medical help…Read Online and Free Download

The necklace PDF Book by Guy de Maupassant

11. “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant is a poignant short story that explores themes of vanity, materialism, and the twist of fate. It was first published in 1884 and is often cited as a classic example of Maupassant’s skill in storytelling and his interest in ironic outcomes….Read Online and Free Download

A Rose for Emily PDF Books

12. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is a short story that delves into themes of tradition versus change, the impact of the past on the present, and the complexities of the human psyche. It is one of Faulkner’s most famous and frequently anthologized works, notable for its use of narrative structure and deep psychological analysis of its characters...Read Online and Free Download

Araby By James Joyce PDF Book

13. “Araby” by James Joyce

“Araby” is one of the short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners, a collection published in 1914 that portrays the mundane yet complex lives of individuals in Dublin. This particular story is a poignant tale of first love and disillusionment, seen through the eyes of a young boy...Read Online and Free Download

Book cover of 'The Lady with the Dog' by Anton Chekhov, featuring a woman with a parasol walking on the beach with a dog, promoting the PDF version.

14. “The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov

“The Lady with the Dog” is a short story by Anton Chekhov, first published in 1899. The story is centered around an affair between two unhappily married people, Dmitri Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna...Read Online and Free Download

Short story book PDF - The Monkey's Paw By W. W. Jacobs

15. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a horror short story by W.W. Jacobs, first published in 1902. The story centers around a magical but cursed object and the consequences of wishing for more than one needs…Read Online and Free Download

Cover image of 'The Lottery Ticket' by Anton Chekhov featuring a couple reading a newspaper, promoting the short story PDF download on learnenglish-new.com.

16. “The Lottery Ticket” by Anton Chekhov

“The Lottery Ticket” is a short story by Anton Chekhov, first published in 1887. The story explores the themes of greed, dissatisfaction, and the fragility of human relationships.…Read Online and Free Download

English stories for esl learners - The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin

17. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

“The Story of an Hour” is a short story by Kate Chopin, first published in 1894. The story is a powerful exploration of the themes of freedom, identity, and the constraints of marriage.…Read Online and Free Download

Stories pdf

18. “The Swimmer” by John Cheever

“The Swimmer” is a short story by John Cheever, first published in 1964. The story is a poignant and surreal exploration of suburban life, human frailty, and the passage of time…Read Online and Free Download

Book cover for 'The Lady, or the Tiger?' by Frank R. Stockton, featuring an illustration of a woman and a tiger .

19. “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton

“The Lady, or the Tiger?” is a classic short story by Frank R. Stockton, first published in 1882. The story is set in a semi-barbaric kingdom ruled by a king who administers justice through a public trial that leaves the accused’s fate to chance…Read Online and Free Download

Best Short Stories PDF - The Cask of Amontillado By Edgar Allan Poe Book

20. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe is a chilling tale of revenge set in an unnamed Italian city during a carnival season. The story is told from the perspective of Montresor, who harbors a deep-seated grudge against Fortunato, although the exact nature of Fortunato’s insult is never revealed…Read Online and Free Download

short stories for advanced english learners

21. “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen

“The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen is a poignant and tragic short story about a poor young girl’s dreams and suffering on a cold New Year’s Eve. The story is set in a nameless city during a freezing winter evening, where the little girl, who is shivering and barefoot, tries to sell matches on the street….Read Online and Free Download

The bet book reading english story

22. “The Bet” by Anton Chekhov

“The Bet” by Anton Chekhov is a thought-provoking short story that explores themes of greed, human life’s value, and the effects of isolation. The story begins with a debate at a party hosted by a wealthy banker…Read Online and Free Download

Download Books for free PDF - The Signal Man by Charles Dickens

23. “The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens

“The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens is a haunting ghost story that delves into themes of isolation, fear, and the supernatural. The story is narrated by a traveler who encounters a railway signal-man while walking along a railway cutting…Read Online and Free Download

The Last Leaf PDF Book

24. “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry

“The Last Leaf” by O. Henry is a touching story of hope, friendship, and sacrifice, set in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. The story revolves around two young women, Sue and Johnsy, who are artists and close friends sharing an apartment…Read Online and Free Download

Hills like white elephants PDF Book by Ernest Hemingway

25. “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway

“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is a short story that masterfully uses dialogue and setting to explore a couple’s strained relationship and their conflicting views on an important decision they face…Read Online and Free Download

story for intermediate level pdf The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

26. “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde

“The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde is a poignant fairy tale that combines elements of social criticism with deep moral and humanitarian messages. The story tells of a gilded and bejeweled statue of the Happy Prince, who stands atop a tall column, overlooking a city…Read Online and Free Download

Cover image of the short story 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' by Flannery O'Connor, featuring a stern man in a cowboy hat, with two men in the background.

27. A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is one of Flannery O’Connor’s most famous short stories, first published in 1953. The story centers on a family trip that goes tragically wrong. It is known for its dark humor, unsettling themes, and exploration of morality, faith, and redemption….Read Online and Free Download

50 Great Short Stories PDF Free Download with Pictures

Are you a fan of short stories? Do you love the thrill of a quick, engaging read that can be completed in one sitting? Look no further! We’ve compiled a list of 50 great short stories that you can download for free in PDF format, each accompanied by beautiful illustrations to enhance your reading experience. Whether you’re a student, an avid reader, or simply someone looking for a captivating tale, this collection has something for everyone.

Why Short Stories?

Short stories are perfect for readers who want to experience a full narrative in a short amount of time. They often focus on a single theme or a few characters, allowing for deep exploration of ideas and emotions without the commitment of a longer novel. Illustrated short stories add another layer of enjoyment, bringing scenes and characters to life through art.

How to Download

To download these short stories in PDF format, simply follow the links provided for each story. These links lead to reputable sources where the stories are available for free. The addition of illustrations makes these stories even more appealing, as they provide visual context and enhance the overall reading experience.

The List of 50 Great Short Stories

1. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson: Full Summary

Setting and Introduction: The story is set in a small, rural village in America. The time is around 10 a.m. on June 27th, a warm and sunny day. The villagers, totaling around 300, gather in the town square for the annual lottery. The atmosphere initially appears festive and communal, with children playing, men chatting, and women exchanging gossip.

The Lottery Begins: The lottery is conducted by Mr. Summers, who oversees most civic activities. He arrives carrying a black wooden box, which is old and worn out, symbolizing the tradition’s age and decay. The villagers draw slips of paper from the box, with every head of the family drawing a slip for their household.

Tension Builds: As the drawing continues, there is an underlying tension. The villagers are nervous and reluctant, but no one openly questions the tradition. This ritual has been performed for as long as anyone can remember, although there have been some changes over the years, like the use of paper slips instead of wood chips.

The Hutchinson Family: When Bill Hutchinson draws the slip with a black dot, his family is singled out. Tessie Hutchinson, his wife, immediately protests, claiming the draw wasn’t fair. Despite her protests, the family is required to draw again, this time each member drawing a slip.

The Final Drawing: In the final draw, Tessie Hutchinson picks the slip with the black dot. The villagers then turn on her, revealing the true nature of the lottery. Tessie is stoned to death by the community, including her own family, in a shocking and brutal conclusion. Her screams of protest and pleas for fairness are ignored, highlighting the senseless violence of the ritual.

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson: Historical Context and Background

Historical Context:

  1. Post-World War II America:
    • The story was written in 1948, just a few years after the end of World War II. The war had a significant impact on American society, and there was a strong desire for normalcy and stability. This period was marked by a return to traditional values and an emphasis on conformity.
    • The war’s aftermath saw widespread disillusionment and reflection on human nature, violence, and societal norms, themes central to “The Lottery.”
  2. The Rise of the Cold War:
    • The early Cold War era was characterized by fear of communism and the spread of McCarthyism in the United States. This climate fostered a culture of suspicion, conformity, and fear of dissent.
    • Jackson’s story, with its focus on the unthinking perpetuation of a brutal tradition, can be seen as a critique of the dangers of conformity and the suppression of individuality.
  3. Societal Conformity and Tradition:
    • The late 1940s and 1950s in America were times of social conformity, with strong emphasis on maintaining traditional values and roles. This period saw the promotion of the nuclear family and prescribed gender roles, often stifling individual expression and critical thinking.
    • “The Lottery” explores how societal pressure and tradition can lead to the acceptance of horrific practices, reflecting concerns about the loss of individual autonomy and moral reasoning.

Background and Inspiration:

  1. Shirley Jackson’s Life and Experiences:
    • Shirley Jackson lived in North Bennington, Vermont, a small town that inspired the setting for “The Lottery.” Her experiences in this insular community, where traditions were deeply ingrained, influenced her portrayal of the village in the story.
    • Jackson often felt like an outsider in her own community, which may have contributed to her critical perspective on societal norms and the dark side of human nature.
  2. Concept and Writing Process:
    • The idea for “The Lottery” reportedly came to Jackson while she was out grocery shopping, reflecting on how easily people conform to societal expectations without questioning them.
    • Jackson wrote the story in a single morning, drawing on her observations of human behavior and the underlying brutality she perceived in societal rituals and traditions.

Publication and Reaction:

  1. Initial Publication:
    • “The Lottery” was published in The New Yorker on June 26, 1948. The magazine’s editors did not provide any special introduction or explanation for the story, adding to its shock value.
    • The story’s casual tone and mundane setting contrasted sharply with its violent conclusion, leading to widespread bewilderment and outrage among readers.
  2. Public and Critical Response:
    • The New Yorker received an unprecedented volume of mail, much of it angry and confused, demanding explanations or expressing horror at the story’s content.
    • Jackson herself received hate mail and criticism, with many readers questioning her motives and the story’s meaning.
    • Over time, however, critics began to recognize the story’s brilliance and its profound commentary on human nature and societal norms.

Legacy and Influence:

  1. Literary Impact:
    • “The Lottery” became one of the most anthologized short stories in American literature, studied in schools and universities for its themes, narrative structure, and social critique.
    • The story’s exploration of conformity, tradition, and the potential for violence in ordinary people has influenced countless writers and remains a touchstone in discussions of societal behavior and morality.
  2. Cultural Adaptations:
    • The story has been adapted into various media, including films, television, and theater. Each adaptation brings its own interpretation, but the core themes of the story remain powerful and relevant.
    • Notable adaptations include a 1969 short film directed by Larry Yust and a 1996 television movie, which helped to keep the story’s message alive for new generations.
  3. Enduring Relevance:
    • “The Lottery” continues to resonate in contemporary society, often cited in discussions about the dangers of unexamined traditions and the capacity for ordinary people to commit acts of violence under societal pressure.
    • The story’s themes are universal, making it a timeless piece that challenges readers to reflect on their own societal norms and the potential consequences of blind conformity.

In summary, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a profound and unsettling story that emerged from the specific historical context of post-war America, reflecting concerns about conformity, tradition, and the darker aspects of human nature. Its publication history and enduring legacy highlight its powerful impact on literature and society.

2. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe: Summary

Introduction: “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843. It is a psychological thriller that delves into the mind of an unreliable narrator who insists on their sanity while describing the murder they have committed.

Plot Summary:

Narrator’s Insistence on Sanity: The story begins with the narrator passionately declaring their sanity. They admit to having a disease that has sharpened their senses, especially their hearing. The narrator claims that their acute senses have enabled them to hear things in heaven, earth, and hell, thus proving their heightened awareness and sanity.

The Old Man and His Eye: The narrator lives with an old man who has a pale blue eye, which the narrator describes as being like that of a vulture. This eye becomes the source of the narrator’s obsession and drives them to contemplate murder. The narrator insists that they love the old man and have no personal grudge against him, but the old man’s eye fills them with an irrational dread.

Planning the Murder: The narrator meticulously plans the murder over the course of a week. Each night, around midnight, they sneak into the old man’s room and observe the sleeping man. The narrator takes great pride in their caution and stealth, convinced that these are further proof of their sanity.

The Murder: On the eighth night, the narrator is particularly cautious while opening the door to the old man’s room. However, this time, the old man wakes up and sits up in bed, sensing something is wrong. The narrator remains still, but soon, a thin ray of light from the lantern falls upon the old man’s eye, which sends the narrator into a frenzy. Overwhelmed by the sound of the old man’s beating heart, which they perceive as growing louder and louder, the narrator fears that the sound will be heard by a neighbor. In a moment of panic, they leap into the room and smother the old man with the heavy bed, killing him.

Concealing the Crime: The narrator then dismembers the body, cutting off the head, arms, and legs, and hides the pieces under the floorboards of the room. They clean up all traces of the crime, ensuring that no blood stains are left behind. The narrator is confident that they have committed the perfect crime and takes pride in their cunning and thoroughness.

The Arrival of the Police: At around 4 a.m., the police arrive at the house, responding to a neighbor’s report of hearing a scream. The narrator remains calm and invites the officers in, explaining that the scream was their own, caused by a bad dream, and that the old man is away in the country. The narrator even takes the officers to the old man’s room and shows them how secure everything is. To demonstrate their innocence further, the narrator places their chair directly above the spot where the old man’s body is hidden.

The Narrator’s Confession: As the officers chat and the narrator feels increasingly confident, they begin to hear a faint, rhythmic noise. At first, they try to dismiss it, but the sound grows louder and more persistent. The narrator becomes agitated, realizing that it is the beating of the old man’s heart coming from beneath the floorboards. The sound becomes unbearable, and the narrator is convinced that the officers must hear it too and are merely pretending not to notice it. Overwhelmed by guilt and paranoia, the narrator finally breaks down and confesses to the crime, shouting that they can hear the old man’s heart beating and directing the officers to the hidden body.

Conclusion: “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a masterful exploration of guilt, paranoia, and the fragile nature of sanity. Through the narrator’s descent into madness and their ultimate confession, Poe illustrates the powerful effects of a guilty conscience and the inescapable nature of one’s own inner turmoil.

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe: Historical Context and Background

Publication and Reception:

  1. First Publication:
    • “The Tell-Tale Heart” was first published in January 1843 in The Pioneer, a literary magazine edited by James Russell Lowell.
    • It was later included in various collections of Poe’s work and became one of his most famous and frequently anthologized short stories.
  2. Reception:
    • Upon its initial publication, “The Tell-Tale Heart” received mixed reviews. Some contemporaries appreciated its psychological depth and intense narrative, while others found it too disturbing and macabre.
    • Over time, the story has gained critical acclaim and is now considered a masterpiece of Gothic fiction and a seminal work in the horror genre.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Life and Influence:

  1. Personal Struggles:
    • Poe’s own life was marked by personal tragedy and struggles with mental health, alcoholism, and financial instability. These experiences influenced much of his writing, which often explores themes of madness, guilt, and the supernatural.
    • His turbulent life is reflected in the intense psychological complexity of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
  2. Literary Style and Innovations:
    • Poe is known for his Gothic style, characterized by dark themes, a focus on the macabre, and a deep exploration of the human psyche.
    • “The Tell-Tale Heart” exemplifies Poe’s use of the unreliable narrator, a literary technique that adds layers of complexity and engages readers in the narrator’s descent into madness.

Historical and Cultural Context:

  1. 19th Century American Literature:
    • The early to mid-19th century was a time of growth and change in American literature, with writers exploring new themes and styles. Poe was at the forefront of this movement, contributing significantly to the development of the short story as a distinct literary form.
    • His work often contrasted with the more optimistic and transcendentalist themes of contemporaries like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, instead delving into darker aspects of the human experience.
  2. Psychological Insights:
    • “The Tell-Tale Heart” predates the formal establishment of psychology as a scientific discipline, yet it offers profound insights into the human mind. The story’s exploration of guilt, paranoia, and the thin line between sanity and madness was ahead of its time and remains relevant in psychological literature.

Impact and Legacy:

  1. Influence on Literature and Popular Culture:
    • Poe’s work, including “The Tell-Tale Heart,” has had a lasting impact on literature, influencing numerous writers in the horror and psychological thriller genres. Authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Alfred Hitchcock have drawn inspiration from Poe’s themes and narrative techniques.
    • The story has been adapted into various media, including films, radio dramas, and stage performances, further cementing its place in popular culture.
  2. Educational Value:
    • “The Tell-Tale Heart” is widely studied in schools and universities for its narrative structure, use of language, and psychological depth. It serves as an excellent example of Poe’s literary skill and his ability to create intense emotional experiences through fiction.
  3. Psychological Exploration:
    • The story’s detailed depiction of the narrator’s mental state and the escalating tension leading to the climactic confession make it a powerful study of guilt and paranoia. It has been analyzed from various psychological perspectives, contributing to discussions on mental health and the effects of guilt on the human mind.

In summary, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is a landmark work in American literature, notable for its exploration of psychological themes and its innovative narrative style. Its historical context, tied to Poe’s personal experiences and the broader literary landscape of the 19th century, enhances its significance and enduring appeal. The story continues to be celebrated for its profound impact on literature and its insightful portrayal of the complexities of the human mind.

3. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Summary

Introduction: “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in 1892. It is a seminal piece of feminist literature that explores themes of mental illness, gender roles, and the oppressive nature of the 19th-century medical treatment for women.

Plot Summary:

Setting and Characters:

  • The story is narrated by a woman who is suffering from what is likely postpartum depression. She and her husband, John, a physician, have rented a colonial mansion for the summer.
  • The narrator’s condition and John’s treatment of it become the central focus. John prescribes the “rest cure,” a popular treatment at the time that involves complete rest, isolation, and forbidding the patient from engaging in any intellectual or creative activities.

The Nursery and the Wallpaper:

  • The narrator is confined to a former nursery in the mansion, which has barred windows and ugly, yellow wallpaper. She despises the wallpaper’s chaotic, swirling pattern.
  • Left alone in the room for most of the day, she becomes increasingly obsessed with the wallpaper, finding its patterns disturbing and oppressive.

Narrator’s Deteriorating Mental State:

  • As the weeks pass, the narrator’s mental state deteriorates. She begins to see a sub-pattern behind the main pattern of the wallpaper, describing it as a woman trapped behind bars.
  • The narrator’s isolation and lack of mental stimulation exacerbate her condition. She becomes convinced that the wallpaper is alive and that the woman behind it is struggling to break free.

Descent into Madness:

  • The narrator’s obsession grows, and she spends hours each day studying the wallpaper. She starts to see multiple women creeping behind the pattern, symbolizing her own feeling of entrapment.
  • Her husband dismisses her concerns and insists she needs more rest, further isolating her.

Climactic Breakdown:

  • Eventually, the narrator locks herself in the room, determined to free the woman she believes is trapped in the wallpaper. She tears at the wallpaper, trying to strip it off the walls.
  • John returns to find the narrator creeping around the room, having torn off much of the wallpaper. She declares triumphantly that she has freed herself and the woman from the wallpaper.

Conclusion:

  • John faints upon seeing his wife’s condition, and the story ends with the narrator continuing to creep around the room, stepping over John’s unconscious body.
  • The ending is ambiguous and unsettling, highlighting the destructive effects of the oppressive treatment and the narrator’s complete mental breakdown.

Themes:

  1. Oppression and Gender Roles:
    • The story critiques the patriarchal society of the 19th century and the way it stifles women’s autonomy and intellectual freedom. John’s control over the narrator’s treatment reflects the broader societal control over women’s lives.
  2. Mental Illness and Treatment:
    • The “rest cure” prescribed to the narrator is based on the real-life treatment popularized by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, which Gilman herself experienced. The story illustrates how this treatment can worsen mental illness rather than cure it.
  3. Freedom and Confinement:
    • The wallpaper symbolizes the narrator’s confinement and her desperate desire for freedom. Her obsession with freeing the woman in the wallpaper mirrors her own struggle to escape the restrictions placed upon her by society and her husband.
  4. The Power of Creativity:
    • The narrator’s creative impulses are stifled by her prescribed inactivity, leading to her mental deterioration. The story underscores the importance of creative expression for mental health.

Literary Significance:

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” is considered an important early work of American feminist literature. It sheds light on the oppressive treatment of women in the 19th century and criticizes the medical practices of the time.
  • The story is frequently analyzed for its rich symbolism, psychological depth, and its critique of societal norms.

In summary, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a powerful and disturbing narrative that explores the impact of oppressive medical treatments and societal norms on women’s mental health. Through its compelling and symbolic storytelling, it remains a significant work in both feminist literature and psychological fiction.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Historical Context and Background

Author Background:

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) was a prominent American feminist, sociologist, and writer. She was a strong advocate for women’s rights and used her writing to address social issues, particularly those affecting women.

Inspiration and Personal Experience:

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” was inspired by Gilman’s own experiences with mental illness and the treatment she received. After the birth of her daughter, Gilman suffered from severe postpartum depression.
  • She was treated by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, a prominent physician who prescribed the “rest cure,” which required complete rest, isolation, and forbade intellectual activity. This treatment exacerbated her condition, leading her to the brink of a complete mental breakdown.
  • Gilman eventually rejected Mitchell’s treatment, resumed her work and intellectual activities, and recovered. She wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” to highlight the dangers of the rest cure and to advocate for better treatment of women with mental health issues.

Publication History:

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” was first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine.
  • Initially, the story received mixed reviews. Some praised its powerful depiction of mental illness, while others dismissed it as too unsettling and grotesque.
  • Over time, the story gained recognition as a significant feminist work, and its themes and symbolism have been extensively analyzed and discussed.

Reception and Impact:

  • The story was groundbreaking in its time for its candid exploration of mental illness and its critique of the treatment of women.
  • Gilman sent a copy of the story to Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, but he never responded. However, Gilman later claimed that Mitchell altered his treatment methods after reading her work.

Themes and Analysis:

  • Gender Roles and Oppression: The story critiques the patriarchal society of the 19th century, highlighting how women’s autonomy and intellectual freedom were stifled by societal norms and medical practices.
  • Mental Illness and Treatment: It provides a scathing critique of the rest cure and the broader medical practices that ignored the needs and voices of women. The narrator’s descent into madness is portrayed as a direct result of the oppressive treatment she receives.
  • Freedom and Confinement: The wallpaper becomes a symbol of the narrator’s confinement and her struggle to break free from the restrictions imposed upon her by her husband and society.
  • The Power of Creativity: The story underscores the importance of intellectual and creative freedom for mental health. The narrator’s forced inactivity leads to her obsession with the wallpaper and ultimately to her breakdown.

Legacy and Influence:

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” is now regarded as a classic of feminist literature and an important early work in the genre of psychological fiction.
  • It has been included in numerous anthologies and is widely studied in literature and women’s studies courses.
  • The story has inspired various adaptations, including stage plays, films, and radio dramas, further cementing its place in cultural history.

Gilman’s Later Life and Work:

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman continued to write and advocate for social reform throughout her life. Her most famous work, “Women and Economics” (1898), argued for women’s economic independence and contributed to the feminist movement.
  • Gilman’s writing and activism had a lasting impact on the women’s rights movement, and she is remembered as a pioneering feminist thinker.

In summary, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a powerful critique of the treatment of women and mental illness in the 19th century. Inspired by Gilman’s own experiences, the story uses vivid symbolism and psychological depth to highlight the oppressive nature of the rest cure and the broader societal norms that restricted women’s freedom. Its historical significance and enduring legacy make it a landmark work in feminist literature.

    The Lady with the Little Dog

    Watch this story on YouTube and improve your English skills.

    The Lady with the Little Dog

    By Anton Chekhov

    Contents

    Chapter I

    Chapter II

    Chapter III

    Chapter IV

    I

    IT was said that a new person had appeared on the sea-front: a lady with a little dog. Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, who had by then been a fortnight at Yalta, and so was fairly at home there, had begun to take an interest in new arrivals. Sitting in Verney’s pavilion, he saw, walking on the sea-front, a fair-haired young lady of medium height, wearing a bret; a white Pomeranian dog was running behind her.

    And afterwards he met her in the public gardens and in the square several times a day. She was walking alone, always wearing the same bret, and always with the same white dog; no one knew who she was, and every one called her simply “the lady with the dog.”

    Madeleine Lemaire, Colette Dumas, 19th century

    “If she is here alone without a husband or friends, it wouldn’t be amiss to make her acquaintance,” Gurov reflected.

    He was under forty, but he had a daughter already twelve years old, and two sons at school. He had been married young, when he was a student in his second year, and by now his wife seemed half as old again as he. She was a tall, erect woman with dark eyebrows, staid and dignified, and, as she said of herself, intellectual. She read a great deal, used phonetic spelling, called her husband, not Dmitri, but Dimitri, and he secretly considered her unintelligent, narrow, inelegant, was afraid of her, and did not like to be at home. He had begun being unfaithful to her long ago — had been unfaithful to her often, and, probably on that account, almost always spoke ill of women, and when they were talked about in his presence, used to call them “the lower race.”

    It seemed to him that he had been so schooled by bitter experience that he might call them what he liked, and yet he could not get on for two days together without “the lower race.” In the society of men he was bored and not himself, with them he was cold and uncommunicative; but when he was in the company of women he felt free, and knew what to say to them and how to behave; and he was at ease with them even when he was silent. In his appearance, in his character, in his whole nature, there was something attractive and elusive which allured women and disposed them in his favour; he knew that, and some force seemed to draw him, too, to them.

    Experience often repeated, truly bitter experience, had taught him long ago that with decent people, especially Moscow people — always slow to move and irresolute — every intimacy, which at first so agreeably diversifies life and appears a light and charming adventure, inevitably grows into a regular problem of extreme intricacy, and in the long run the situation becomes unbearable. But at every fresh meeting with an interesting woman this experience seemed to slip out of his memory, and he was eager for life, and everything seemed simple and amusing.

    One evening he was dining in the gardens, and the lady in the bret came up slowly to take the next table. Her expression, her gait, her dress, and the way she did her hair told him that she was a lady, that she was married, that she was in Yalta for the first time and alone, and that she was dull there. . . . The stories told of the immorality in such places as Yalta are to a great extent untrue; he despised them, and knew that such stories were for the most part made up by persons who would themselves have been glad to sin if they had been able; but when the lady sat down at the next table three paces from him, he remembered these tales of easy conquests, of trips to the mountains, and the tempting thought of a swift, fleeting love affair, a romance with an unknown woman, whose name he did not know, suddenly took possession of him.

    He beckoned coaxingly to the Pomeranian, and when the dog came up to him he shook his finger at it. The Pomeranian growled: Gurov shook his finger at it again.

    The lady looked at him and at once dropped her eyes.

    “He doesn’t bite,” she said, and blushed.

    “May I give him a bone?” he asked; and when she nodded he asked courteously, “Have you been long in Yalta?”

    “Five days.”

    “And I have already dragged out a fortnight here.”

    There was a brief silence.

    “Time goes fast, and yet it is so dull here!” she said, not looking at him.

    “That’s only the fashion to say it is dull here. A provincial will live in Belyov or Zhidra and not be dull, and when he comes here it’s ‘Oh, the dulness! Oh, the dust!’ One would think he came from Grenada.”

    She laughed. Then both continued eating in silence, like strangers, but after dinner they walked side by side; and there sprang up between them the light jesting conversation of people who are free and satisfied, to whom it does not matter where they go or what they talk about. They walked and talked of the strange light on the sea: the water was of a soft warm lilac hue, and there was a golden streak from the moon upon it. They talked of how sultry it was after a hot day. Gurov told her that he came from Moscow, that he had taken his degree in Arts, but had a post in a bank; that he had trained as an opera-singer, but had given it up, that he owned two houses in Moscow. . . . And from her he learnt that she had grown up in Petersburg, but had lived in S—- since her marriage two years before, that she was staying another month in Yalta, and that her husband, who needed a holiday too, might perhaps come and fetch her. She was not sure whether her husband had a post in a Crown Department or under the Provincial Council — and was amused by her own ignorance. And Gurov learnt, too, that she was called Anna Sergeyevna.

    Afterwards he thought about her in his room at the hotel — thought she would certainly meet him next day; it would be sure to happen. As he got into bed he thought how lately she had been a girl at school, doing lessons like his own daughter; he recalled the diffidence, the angularity, that was still manifest in her laugh and her manner of talking with a stranger. This must have been the first time in her life she had been alone in surroundings in which she was followed, looked at, and spoken to merely from a secret motive which she could hardly fail to guess. He recalled her slender, delicate neck, her lovely grey eyes.

    “There’s something pathetic about her, anyway,” he thought, and fell asleep.

    II

    A week had passed since they had made acquaintance. It was a holiday. It was sultry indoors, while in the street the wind whirled the dust round and round, and blew people’s hats off. It was a thirsty day, and Gurov often went into the pavilion, and pressed Anna Sergeyevna to have syrup and water or an ice. One did not know what to do with oneself.

    In the evening when the wind had dropped a little, they went out on the groyne to see the steamer come in. There were a great many people walking about the harbour; they had gathered to welcome some one, bringing bouquets. And two peculiarities of a well-dressed Yalta crowd were very conspicuous: the elderly ladies were dressed like young ones, and there were great numbers of generals.

    Owing to the roughness of the sea, the steamer arrived late, after the sun had set, and it was a long time turning about before it reached the groyne. Anna Sergeyevna looked through her lorgnette at the steamer and the passengers as though looking for acquaintances, and when she turned to Gurov her eyes were shining. She talked a great deal and asked disconnected questions, forgetting next moment what she had asked; then she dropped her lorgnette in the crush.

    The festive crowd began to disperse; it was too dark to see people’s faces. The wind had completely dropped, but Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna still stood as though waiting to see some one else come from the steamer. Anna Sergeyevna was silent now, and sniffed the flowers without looking at Gurov.

    “The weather is better this evening,” he said. “Where shall we go now? Shall we drive somewhere?”

    She made no answer.

    Then he looked at her intently, and all at once put his arm round her and kissed her on the lips, and breathed in the moisture and the fragrance of the flowers; and he immediately looked round him, anxiously wondering whether any one had seen them.

    “Let us go to your hotel,” he said softly. And both walked quickly.

    The room was close and smelt of the scent she had bought at the Japanese shop. Gurov looked at her and thought: “What different people one meets in the world!” From the past he preserved memories of careless, good-natured women, who loved cheerfully and were grateful to him for the happiness he gave them, however brief it might be; and of women like his wife who loved without any genuine feeling, with superfluous phrases, affectedly, hysterically, with an expression that suggested that it was not love nor passion, but something more significant; and of two or three others, very beautiful, cold women, on whose faces he had caught a glimpse of a rapacious expression — an obstinate desire to snatch from life more than it could give, and these were capricious, unreflecting, domineering, unintelligent women not in their first youth, and when Gurov grew cold to them their beauty excited his hatred, and the lace on their linen seemed to him like scales.

    But in this case there was still the diffidence, the angularity of inexperienced youth, an awkward feeling; and there was a sense of consternation as though some one had suddenly knocked at the door. The attitude of Anna Sergeyevna — “the lady with the dog” — to what had happened was somehow peculiar, very grave, as though it were her fall — so it seemed, and it was strange and inappropriate. Her face dropped and faded, and on both sides of it her long hair hung down mournfully; she mused in a dejected attitude like “the woman who was a sinner” in an old-fashioned picture.

    “It’s wrong,” she said. “You will be the first to despise me now.”

    There was a water-melon on the table. Gurov cut himself a slice and began eating it without haste. There followed at least half an hour of silence.

    Anna Sergeyevna was touching; there was about her the purity of a good, simple woman who had seen little of life. The solitary candle burning on the table threw a faint light on her face, yet it was clear that she was very unhappy.

    “How could I despise you?” asked Gurov. “You don’t know what you are saying.”

    “God forgive me,” she said, and her eyes filled with tears. “It’s awful.”

    “You seem to feel you need to be forgiven.”

    “Forgiven? No. I am a bad, low woman; I despise myself and don’t attempt to justify myself. It’s not my husband but myself I have deceived. And not only just now; I have been deceiving myself for a long time. My husband may be a good, honest man, but he is a flunkey! I don’t know what he does there, what his work is, but I know he is a flunkey! I was twenty when I was married to him. I have been tormented by curiosity; I wanted something better. ‘There must be a different sort of life,’ I said to myself. I wanted to live! To live, to live! . . . I was fired by curiosity . . . you don’t understand it, but, I swear to God, I could not control myself; something happened to me: I could not be restrained. I told my husband I was ill, and came here. . . . And here I have been walking about as though I were dazed, like a mad creature; . . . and now I have become a vulgar, contemptible woman whom any one may despise.”

    Gurov felt bored already, listening to her. He was irritated by the nave tone, by this remorse, so unexpected and inopportune; but for the tears in her eyes, he might have thought she was jesting or playing a part.

    “I don’t understand,” he said softly. “What is it you want?”

    She hid her face on his breast and pressed close to him.

    “Believe me, believe me, I beseech you . . .” she said. “I love a pure, honest life, and sin is loathsome to me. I don’t know what I am doing. Simple people say: ‘The Evil One has beguiled me.’ And I may say of myself now that the Evil One has beguiled me.”

    “Hush, hush! . . .” he muttered.

    He looked at her fixed, scared eyes, kissed her, talked softly and affectionately, and by degrees she was comforted, and her gaiety returned; they both began laughing.

    Afterwards when they went out there was not a soul on the sea-front. The town with its cypresses had quite a deathlike air, but the sea still broke noisily on the shore; a single barge was rocking on the waves, and a lantern was blinking sleepily on it.

    They found a cab and drove to Oreanda.

    “I found out your surname in the hall just now: it was written on the board — Von Diderits,” said Gurov. “Is your husband a German?”

    “No; I believe his grandfather was a German, but he is an Orthodox Russian himself.”

    At Oreanda they sat on a seat not far from the church, looked down at the sea, and were silent. Yalta was hardly visible through the morning mist; white clouds stood motionless on the mountain-tops. The leaves did not stir on the trees, grasshoppers chirruped, and the monotonous hollow sound of the sea rising up from below, spoke of the peace, of the eternal sleep awaiting us. So it must have sounded when there was no Yalta, no Oreanda here; so it sounds now, and it will sound as indifferently and monotonously when we are all no more. And in this constancy, in this complete indifference to the life and death of each of us, there lies hid, perhaps, a pledge of our eternal salvation, of the unceasing movement of life upon earth, of unceasing progress towards perfection. Sitting beside a young woman who in the dawn seemed so lovely, soothed and spellbound in these magical surroundings — the sea, mountains, clouds, the open sky — Gurov thought how in reality everything is beautiful in this world when one reflects: everything except what we think or do ourselves when we forget our human dignity and the higher aims of our existence.

    A man walked up to them — probably a keeper — looked at them and walked away. And this detail seemed mysterious and beautiful, too. They saw a steamer come from Theodosia, with its lights out in the glow of dawn.

    “There is dew on the grass,” said Anna Sergeyevna, after a silence.

    “Yes. It’s time to go home.”

    They went back to the town.

    Then they met every day at twelve o’clock on the sea-front, lunched and dined together, went for walks, admired the sea. She complained that she slept badly, that her heart throbbed violently; asked the same questions, troubled now by jealousy and now by the fear that he did not respect her sufficiently. And often in the square or gardens, when there was no one near them, he suddenly drew her to him and kissed her passionately. Complete idleness, these kisses in broad daylight while he looked round in dread of some one’s seeing them, the heat, the smell of the sea, and the continual passing to and fro before him of idle, well-dressed, well-fed people, made a new man of him; he told Anna Sergeyevna how beautiful she was, how fascinating. He was impatiently passionate, he would not move a step away from her, while she was often pensive and continually urged him to confess that he did not respect her, did not love her in the least, and thought of her as nothing but a common woman. Rather late almost every evening they drove somewhere out of town, to Oreanda or to the waterfall; and the expedition was always a success, the scenery invariably impressed them as grand and beautiful.

    They were expecting her husband to come, but a letter came from him, saying that there was something wrong with his eyes, and he entreated his wife to come home as quickly as possible. Anna Sergeyevna made haste to go.

    “It’s a good thing I am going away,” she said to Gurov. “It’s the finger of destiny!”

    “It’s a good thing I am going away,” she said to Gurov. “It’s the finger of destiny!”

    She went by coach and he went with her. They were driving the whole day. When she had got into a compartment of the express, and when the second bell had rung, she said:

    “Let me look at you once more . . . look at you once again. That’s right.”

    She did not shed tears, but was so sad that she seemed ill, and her face was quivering.

    “I shall remember you . . . think of you,” she said. “God be with you; be happy. Don’t remember evil against me. We are parting forever — it must be so, for we ought never to have met. Well, God be with you.”

    The train moved off rapidly, its lights soon vanished from sight, and a minute later there was no sound of it, as though everything had conspired together to end as quickly as possible that sweet delirium, that madness. Left alone on the platform, and gazing into the dark distance, Gurov listened to the chirrup of the grasshoppers and the hum of the telegraph wires, feeling as though he had only just waked up. And he thought, musing, that there had been another episode or adventure in his life, and it, too, was at an end, and nothing was left of it but a memory. . . . He was moved, sad, and conscious of a slight remorse. This young woman whom he would never meet again had not been happy with him; he was genuinely warm and affectionate with her, but yet in his manner, his tone, and his caresses there had been a shade of light irony, the coarse condescension of a happy man who was, besides, almost twice her age. All the time she had called him kind, exceptional, lofty; obviously he had seemed to her different from what he really was, so he had unintentionally deceived her. . . .

    Here at the station was already a scent of autumn; it was a cold evening.

    “It’s time for me to go north,” thought Gurov as he left the platform. “High time!”

    III

    At home in Moscow everything was in its winter routine; the stoves were heated, and in the morning it was still dark when the children were having breakfast and getting ready for school, and the nurse would light the lamp for a short time. The frosts had begun already. When the first snow has fallen, on the first day of sledge-driving it is pleasant to see the white earth, the white roofs, to draw soft, delicious breath, and the season brings back the days of one’s youth. The old limes and birches, white with hoar-frost, have a good-natured expression; they are nearer to one’s heart than cypresses and palms, and near them one doesn’t want to be thinking of the sea and the mountains.

    Gurov was Moscow born; he arrived in Moscow on a fine frosty day, and when he put on his fur coat and warm gloves, and walked along Petrovka, and when on Saturday evening he heard the ringing of the bells, his recent trip and the places he had seen lost all charm for him. Little by little he became absorbed in Moscow life, greedily read three newspapers a day, and declared he did not read the Moscow papers on principle! He already felt a longing to go to restaurants, clubs, dinner-parties, anniversary celebrations, and he felt flattered at entertaining distinguished lawyers and artists, and at playing cards with a professor at the doctors’ club. He could already eat a whole plateful of salt fish and cabbage.

    In another month, he fancied, the image of Anna Sergeyevna would be shrouded in a mist in his memory, and only from time to time would visit him in his dreams with a touching smile as others did. But more than a month passed, real winter had come, and everything was still clear in his memory as though he had parted with Anna Sergeyevna only the day before. And his memories glowed more and more vividly. When in the evening stillness he heard from his study the voices of his children, preparing their lessons, or when he listened to a song or the organ at the restaurant, or the storm howled in the chimney, suddenly everything would rise up in his memory: what had happened on the groyne, and the early morning with the mist on the mountains, and the steamer coming from Theodosia, and the kisses. He would pace a long time about his room, remembering it all and smiling; then his memories passed into dreams, and in his fancy the past was mingled with what was to come. Anna Sergeyevna did not visit him in dreams, but followed him about everywhere like a shadow and haunted him. When he shut his eyes he saw her as though she were living before him, and she seemed to him lovelier, younger, tenderer than she was; and he imagined himself finer than he had been in Yalta. In the evenings she peeped out at him from the bookcase, from the fireplace, from the corner — he heard her breathing, the caressing rustle of her dress. In the street he watched the women, looking for some one like her.

    He was tormented by an intense desire to confide his memories to some one. But in his home it was impossible to talk of his love, and he had no one outside; he could not talk to his tenants nor to any one at the bank. And what had he to talk of? Had he been in love, then? Had there been anything beautiful, poetical, or edifying or simply interesting in his relations with Anna Sergeyevna? And there was nothing for him but to talk vaguely of love, of woman, and no one guessed what it meant; only his wife twitched her black eyebrows, and said:

    “The part of a lady-killer does not suit you at all, Dimitri.”

    One evening, coming out of the doctors’ club with an official with whom he had been playing cards, he could not resist saying:

    “If only you knew what a fascinating woman I made the acquaintance of in Yalta!”

    The official got into his sledge and was driving away, but turned suddenly and shouted:

    “Dmitri Dmitritch!”

    “What?”

    “You were right this evening: the sturgeon was a bit too strong!”

    These words, so ordinary, for some reason moved Gurov to indignation, and struck him as degrading and unclean. What savage manners, what people! What senseless nights, what uninteresting, uneventful days! The rage for card-playing, the gluttony, the drunkenness, the continual talk always about the same thing. Useless pursuits and conversations always about the same things absorb the better part of one’s time, the better part of one’s strength, and in the end there is left a life grovelling and curtailed, worthless and trivial, and there is no escaping or getting away from it — just as though one were in a madhouse or a prison.

    Gurov did not sleep all night, and was filled with indignation. And he had a headache all next day. And the next night he slept badly; he sat up in bed, thinking, or paced up and down his room. He was sick of his children, sick of the bank; he had no desire to go anywhere or to talk of anything.

    In the holidays in December he prepared for a journey, and told his wife he was going to Petersburg to do something in the interests of a young friend — and he set off for S—-. What for? He did not very well know himself. He wanted to see Anna Sergeyevna and to talk with her — to arrange a meeting, if possible.

    He reached S—- in the morning, and took the best room at the hotel, in which the floor was covered with grey army cloth, and on the table was an inkstand, grey with dust and adorned with a figure on horseback, with its hat in its hand and its head broken off. The hotel porter gave him the necessary information; Von Diderits lived in a house of his own in Old Gontcharny Street — it was not far from the hotel: he was rich and lived in good style, and had his own horses; every one in the town knew him. The porter pronounced the name “Dridirits.”

    Gurov went without haste to Old Gontcharny Street and found the house. Just opposite the house stretched a long grey fence adorned with nails.

    “One would run away from a fence like that,” thought Gurov, looking from the fence to the windows of the house and back again.

    He considered: to-day was a holiday, and the husband would probably be at home. And in any case it would be tactless to go into the house and upset her. If he were to send her a note it might fall into her husband’s hands, and then it might ruin everything. The best thing was to trust to chance. And he kept walking up and down the street by the fence, waiting for the chance. He saw a beggar go in at the gate and dogs fly at him; then an hour later he heard a piano, and the sounds were faint and indistinct. Probably it was Anna Sergeyevna playing. The front door suddenly opened, and an old woman came out, followed by the familiar white Pomeranian. Gurov was on the point of calling to the dog, but his heart began beating violently, and in his excitement he could not remember the dog’s name.

    He walked up and down, and loathed the grey fence more and more, and by now he thought irritably that Anna Sergeyevna had forgotten him, and was perhaps already amusing herself with some one else, and that that was very natural in a young woman who had nothing to look at from morning till night but that confounded fence. He went back to his hotel room and sat for a long while on the sofa, not knowing what to do, then he had dinner and a long nap.

    “How stupid and worrying it is!” he thought when he woke and looked at the dark windows: it was already evening. “Here I’ve had a good sleep for some reason. What shall I do in the night?”

    He sat on the bed, which was covered by a cheap grey blanket, such as one sees in hospitals, and he taunted himself in his vexation:

    “So much for the lady with the dog . . . so much for the adventure. . . . You’re in a nice fix. . . .”

    That morning at the station a poster in large letters had caught his eye. “The Geisha” was to be performed for the first time. He thought of this and went to the theatre.

    “It’s quite possible she may go to the first performance,” he thought.

    The theatre was full. As in all provincial theatres, there was a fog above the chandelier, the gallery was noisy and restless; in the front row the local dandies were standing up before the beginning of the performance, with their hands behind them; in the Governor’s box the Governor’s daughter, wearing a boa, was sitting in the front seat, while the Governor himself lurked modestly behind the curtain with only his hands visible; the orchestra was a long time tuning up; the stage curtain swayed. All the time the audience were coming in and taking their seats Gurov looked at them eagerly.

    Anna Sergeyevna, too, came in. She sat down in the third row, and when Gurov looked at her his heart contracted, and he understood clearly that for him there was in the whole world no creature so near, so precious, and so important to him; she, this little woman, in no way remarkable, lost in a provincial crowd, with a vulgar lorgnette in her hand, filled his whole life now, was his sorrow and his joy, the one happiness that he now desired for himself, and to the sounds of the inferior orchestra, of the wretched provincial violins, he thought how lovely she was. He thought and dreamed.

    A young man with small side-whiskers, tall and stooping, came in with Anna Sergeyevna and sat down beside her; he bent his head at every step and seemed to be continually bowing. Most likely this was the husband whom at Yalta, in a rush of bitter feeling, she had called a flunkey. And there really was in his long figure, his side-whiskers, and the small bald patch on his head, something of the flunkey’s obsequiousness; his smile was sugary, and in his buttonhole there was some badge of distinction like the number on a waiter.

    During the first interval the husband went away to smoke; she remained alone in her stall. Gurov, who was sitting in the stalls, too, went up to her and said in a trembling voice, with a forced smile:

    “Good-evening.”

    She glanced at him and turned pale, then glanced again with horror, unable to believe her eyes, and tightly gripped the fan and the lorgnette in her hands, evidently struggling with herself not to faint. Both were silent. She was sitting, he was standing, frightened by her confusion and not venturing to sit down beside her. The violins and the flute began tuning up. He felt suddenly frightened; it seemed as though all the people in the boxes were looking at them. She got up and went quickly to the door; he followed her, and both walked senselessly along passages, and up and down stairs, and figures in legal, scholastic, and civil service uniforms, all wearing badges, flitted before their eyes. They caught glimpses of ladies, of fur coats hanging on pegs; the draughts blew on them, bringing a smell of stale tobacco. And Gurov, whose heart was beating violently, thought:

    “Oh, heavens! Why are these people here and this orchestra! . . .”

    And at that instant he recalled how when he had seen Anna Sergeyevna off at the station he had thought that everything was over and they would never meet again. But how far they were still from the end!

    On the narrow, gloomy staircase over which was written “To the Amphitheatre,” she stopped.

    “How you have frightened me!” she said, breathing hard, still pale and overwhelmed. “Oh, how you have frightened me! I am half dead. Why have you come? Why?”

    “But do understand, Anna, do understand . . .” he said hastily in a low voice. “I entreat you to understand. . . .”

    She looked at him with dread, with entreaty, with love; she looked at him intently, to keep his features more distinctly in her memory.

    “I am so unhappy,” she went on, not heeding him. “I have thought of nothing but you all the time; I live only in the thought of you. And I wanted to forget, to forget you; but why, oh, why, have you come?”

    On the landing above them two schoolboys were smoking and looking down, but that was nothing to Gurov; he drew Anna Sergeyevna to him, and began kissing her face, her cheeks, and her hands.

    “What are you doing, what are you doing!” she cried in horror, pushing him away. “We are mad. Go away to-day; go away at once. . . . I beseech you by all that is sacred, I implore you. . . . There are people coming this way!”

    Some one was coming up the stairs.

    “You must go away,” Anna Sergeyevna went on in a whisper. “Do you hear, Dmitri Dmitritch? I will come and see you in Moscow. I have never been happy; I am miserable now, and I never, never shall be happy, never! Don’t make me suffer still more! I swear I’ll come to Moscow. But now let us part. My precious, good, dear one, we must part!”

    She pressed his hand and began rapidly going downstairs, looking round at him, and from her eyes he could see that she really was unhappy. Gurov stood for a little while, listened, then, when all sound had died away, he found his coat and left the theatre.

    IV

    And Anna Sergeyevna began coming to see him in Moscow. Once in two or three months she left S—-, telling her husband that she was going to consult a doctor about an internal complaint — and her husband believed her, and did not believe her. In Moscow she stayed at the Slaviansky Bazaar hotel, and at once sent a man in a red cap to Gurov. Gurov went to see her, and no one in Moscow knew of it.

    Once he was going to see her in this way on a winter morning (the messenger had come the evening before when he was out). With him walked his daughter, whom he wanted to take to school: it was on the way. Snow was falling in big wet flakes.

    “It’s three degrees above freezing-point, and yet it is snowing,” said Gurov to his daughter. “The thaw is only on the surface of the earth; there is quite a different temperature at a greater height in the atmosphere.”

    “And why are there no thunderstorms in the winter, father?”

    He explained that, too. He talked, thinking all the while that he was going to see her, and no living soul knew of it, and probably never would know. He had two lives: one, open, seen and known by all who cared to know, full of relative truth and of relative falsehood, exactly like the lives of his friends and acquaintances; and another life running its course in secret. And through some strange, perhaps accidental, conjunction of circumstances, everything that was essential, of interest and of value to him, everything in which he was sincere and did not deceive himself, everything that made the kernel of his life, was hidden from other people; and all that was false in him, the sheath in which he hid himself to conceal the truth — such, for instance, as his work in the bank, his discussions at the club, his “lower race,” his presence with his wife at anniversary festivities — all that was open. And he judged of others by himself, not believing in what he saw, and always believing that every man had his real, most interesting life under the cover of secrecy and under the cover of night. All personal life rested on secrecy, and possibly it was partly on that account that civilised man was so nervously anxious that personal privacy should be respected.

    After leaving his daughter at school, Gurov went on to the Slaviansky Bazaar. He took off his fur coat below, went upstairs, and softly knocked at the door. Anna Sergeyevna, wearing his favourite grey dress, exhausted by the journey and the suspense, had been expecting him since the evening before. She was pale; she looked at him, and did not smile, and he had hardly come in when she fell on his breast. Their kiss was slow and prolonged, as though they had not met for two years.

    “Well, how are you getting on there?” he asked. “What news?”

    “Wait; I’ll tell you directly…. I can’t talk.”

    She could not speak; she was crying. She turned away from him, and pressed her handkerchief to her eyes.

    “Let her have her cry out. I’ll sit down and wait,” he thought, and he sat down in an arm-chair.

    Then he rang and asked for tea to be brought him, and while he drank his tea she remained standing at the window with her back to him. She was crying from emotion, from the miserable consciousness that their life was so hard for them; they could only meet in secret, hiding themselves from people, like thieves! Was not their life shattered?

    “Come, do stop!” he said.

    It was evident to him that this love of theirs would not soon be over, that he could not see the end of it. Anna Sergeyevna grew more and more attached to him. She adored him, and it was unthinkable to say to her that it was bound to have an end some day; besides, she would not have believed it!

    He went up to her and took her by the shoulders to say something affectionate and cheering, and at that moment he saw himself in the looking-glass.

    His hair was already beginning to turn grey. And it seemed strange to him that he had grown so much older, so much plainer during the last few years. The shoulders on which his hands rested were warm and quivering. He felt compassion for this life, still so warm and lovely, but probably already not far from beginning to fade and wither like his own. Why did she love him so much? He always seemed to women different from what he was, and they loved in him not himself, but the man created by their imagination, whom they had been eagerly seeking all their lives; and afterwards, when they noticed their mistake, they loved him all the same. And not one of them had been happy with him. Time passed, he had made their acquaintance, got on with them, parted, but he had never once loved; it was anything you like, but not love.

    And only now when his head was grey he had fallen properly, really in love — for the first time in his life.

    Anna Sergeyevna and he loved each other like people very close and akin, like husband and wife, like tender friends; it seemed to them that fate itself had meant them for one another, and they could not understand why he had a wife and she a husband; and it was as though they were a pair of birds of passage, caught and forced to live in different cages. They forgave each other for what they were ashamed of in their past, they forgave everything in the present, and felt that this love of theirs had changed them both.

    In moments of depression in the past he had comforted himself with any arguments that came into his mind, but now he no longer cared for arguments; he felt profound compassion, he wanted to be sincere and tender. . . .

    “Don’t cry, my darling,” he said. “You’ve had your cry; that’s enough. . . . Let us talk now, let us think of some plan.”

    Then they spent a long while taking counsel together, talked of how to avoid the necessity for secrecy, for deception, for living in different towns and not seeing each other for long at a time. How could they be free from this intolerable bondage?

    “How? How?” he asked, clutching his head. “How?”

    And it seemed as though in a little while the solution would be found, and then a new and splendid life would begin; and it was clear to both of them that they had still a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning.

    — THE END –

    Source: americanliterature.com


    50 great short stories pdf free download Top sites

    reedsy.com.

    The Tribute” by Jane Gardam (1980)
    John McGahern and Annie Proulx are among my favourite authors, but to dispel gloom I choose this story from Jane Gardam’s 1980 collection The Sidmouth Letters. Reading this gleeful story in my expatriate days, I recognised the cast of “diplomatic wives”, trailing inebriate husbands through the ruins of empire. Mostly dialogue, it is a deft, witty tale in which a small kindness – though not by a diplomatic wife – pays off 40 years later. I must have read it a dozen times, to see how its note is sustained and the surprise is sprung; every time it makes me smile with delight. Hilary Mantel

    “The Stone Boy” by Gina Berriault (1957)- 50 great short stories pdf free download


    This great and underrated masterpiece is a meditation on good and evil and especially about the way that people’s expectations and assumptions about us may wear us down and eventually force us into compliance with their view. But it is a much deeper and more biblical story than that and, like any great work of art, resists reduction. Berriault, who died in 1999, is known as a San Francisco writer. A wonderful sampling of her stories is available in Women in Their Beds: New & Selected Stories. George Saunders

    “The Love of a Good Woman” by Alice Munro (1998)
    Among the handful of short stories closest to my heart, I’ve chosen “The Love of a Good Woman” by Canadian writer Munro, from her 1998 collection of that name. It’s about a murder – probably it’s a murder, because nothing is certain – and a love match that depends on keeping that murder secret. Like so many of Munro’s stories, this 50 great short stories pdf free download one has the scope of a novel yet never feels hurried or crowded. The sociology of a small town in rural Ontario is caught on the wing in the loose weave of her narration; the story takes in whole lifetimes, and yet its pace is also exquisitely slow, carrying us deep inside particular moments. A woman moves among the willows beside a river at night, making up her mind. Tessa Hadley

    50 great short stories pdf free download -Collections Everyone Should Read

    If you are on the lookout for great storytelling but don’t want to commit to a full-length novel, then short story collections are the answer. Whether it’s just before bed, during your commute, or waiting to see your doctor, small chunks of time are perfect for reading short stories 50 great short stories pdf free download.

    Here we have gathered thirty-one of the best short stories and collections, from all sorts of backgrounds and sources, to help you grow your “To Be Read” pile.

    50 great short stories pdf free download For your convenience, we’ve divided this post into two parts: 1. the ten best free short stories to read right now, and 2. best short story collections. Feel free to jump to the section that you prefer!

    Free Short Stories to Read Right Now

    These individual short stories are the best of the best — and the even better news is that they’re available for free online for you to peruse. From classics published in the 1900s to a short story that exploded in late 2017, here are ten of the greatest free short stories for you to read 50 great short stories pdf free download.

    2. themanual.com

    50 great short stories pdf free download -The 12 Best Short Stories Ever Written

    It’s been argued by many writers that penning a good short story is much harder than writing an entire novel. With the latter, there’s plenty of space to unpack character, theme, and plot. With a short story, however, every word counts. The best short stories speak volumes within a few slim pages.

    CONTENTS 50 great short stories pdf free download

    To that end, there are a smattering of short stories that stand out from the crowd. Admittedly, it is difficult to call them the best short stories because quality is subjective. But rest assured that those you’ll find recommended here are almost universally considered some of the most important little works of literature ever thanks to some combination of their revolutionary style, timeless storytelling, or influence on nearly all writers to follow 50 great short stories pdf free download.

    50 great short stories pdf free download Some of these are classic tales that have been beloved for decades while others are from current authors who are still breaking literary ground today, but they are truly great short stories one and all.

    3. lithub.com

    43 of the Most Iconic Short Stories in the English Language -50 great short stories pdf free download

    Last year, I put together this list of the most iconic poems in the English language; it’s high time to do the same for short stories. But before we go any further, you may be asking: What does “iconic” mean in this context? Can a short story really be iconic in the way of a poem, or a painting, or Elvis?

    50 great short stories pdf free download Well, who knows, but for our purposes, “iconic” means that the story has somehow wormed its way into the general cultural consciousness—a list of the best short stories in the English language would look quite different than the one below. (Also NB that in this case we’re necessarily talking about the American cultural consciousness, weird and wiggly as it is.) When something is iconic, it is a highly recognizable cultural artifact that can be used as a shorthand—which often means it has been referenced in other forms of media. You know, just like Elvis.

    (So for those of you heading to the comments to complain that these stories are “the usual suspects”—well, exactly.) An iconic short story may be frequently anthologized, which usually means frequently read in classrooms, something that can lead to cultural ubiquity—but interestingly, the correlation isn’t perfect 50 great short stories pdf free download .

    For instance, Joyce’s “Araby” is anthologized more often, but for my money “The Dead” is more iconic. Film adaptations and catchy, reworkable titles help. But in the end, for better or for worse, you know it when you see it.

    Which means that, like anything else, it all depends on your point of view—icon status is (like most of the ways we evaluate art) highly subjective.

    50 great short stories pdf free download So, having acknowledged that there’s no real way to make this list, but because this is what we’re all here to do, here are some of the most iconic short stories for American readers in the English language—and a few more that deserve to be more iconic than they are.

    4. penguin.co.uk

    The best short stories ever written- 50 great short stories pdf free download

    Modern life is a busy affair and sometimes, a short story offers the perfect form. Escape with these groundbreaking works, both classic and modern.

    The short story, says Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Steven Millhauser, has powers the novel only dreams of. “The novel is the Wal-Mart, the Incredible Hulk, the jumbo jet of literature,” he wrote in his essay, The Ambition of the Short Story“[And yet] the short story apologises for nothing. It exults in its shortness. It wants to be shorter still. It wants to be a single word. If it could find that word, if it could utter that syllable, the entire universe would blaze up out of it with a roar. That is the outrageous ambition of the short story, that is its deepest faith, that is the greatness of its smallness.” 50 great short stories pdf free download

    Many of history’s finest novelists have tried their hand at the short story, and some are even best-known for their prowess in this form. Think of John CheeverKatherine Mansfield and Tessa Hadley, all of whom appear on this list. Elsewhere, short stories offer unfamiliar readers an opportunity to dip their toe into a writer’s style, or else see a different side of them altogether: James JoyceCarson McCullers and Ian McEwan, arguably best-known for their novels, can all be accessed in a different way through their short fiction 50 great short stories pdf free download. 

    Readers continue to show a huge appetite for the short story and it’s no wonder when modern writers such as Lauren GroffDaisy Johnson and Ottessa Moshfegh have turned out some of the most critically-acclaimed collections of recent years.

    50 great short stories pdf free download There have even been viral short story sensations: 2017’s Cat Person, a tale of romance gone wrong, captured the cultural zeitgeist and sparked conversations around the world immediately after its publication in the New Yorker.

    So, without further ado, here are 50 of literature’s greatest short stories to entertain, distract, reassure and inspire – just what a short story should do

    6. theguardian.com

    Bite-sized: 50 great short stories, chosen by Hilary Mantel, George Saunders and more

    “The Tribute” by Jane Gardam (1980)

    John McGahern and Annie Proulx are among my favourite authors, but to dispel gloom I choose this story from Jane Gardam’s 1980 collection The Sidmouth Letters. Reading this gleeful story in my expatriate days, I recognised the cast of “diplomatic wives”, trailing inebriate husbands through the ruins of empire.

    Mostly dialogue, it is a deft, witty tale in which a small kindness – though not by a diplomatic wife – pays off 40 years later. I must have read it a dozen times, to see how its note is sustained and the surprise is sprung; every time it makes me smile with delight. Hilary Mantel

    50 great short stories pdf free download “The Stone Boy” by Gina Berriault (1957)

    This great and underrated masterpiece is a meditation on good and evil and especially about the way that people’s expectations and assumptions about us may wear us down and eventually force us into compliance with their view 50 great short stories pdf free download.

    But it is a much deeper and more biblical story than that and, like any great work of art, resists reduction. Berriault, who died in 1999, is known as a San Francisco writer. A wonderful sampling of her stories is available in Women in Their Beds: New & Selected StoriesGeorge Saunders

    “The Love of a Good Woman” by Alice Munro (1998)

    Among the handful of short stories closest to my heart, I’ve chosen “The Love of a Good Woman” by Canadian writer Munro, from her 1998 collection of that name. It’s about a murder – probably it’s a murder, because nothing is certain – and a love match that depends on keeping that murder secret. Like so many of Munro’s stories, this one has the scope of a novel yet never feels hurried or crowded.

    The sociology of a small town in rural Ontario is caught on the wing in the loose weave of her narration; the story takes in whole lifetimes, and yet its pace is also exquisitely slow, carrying us deep 50 great short stories pdf free download inside particular moments. A woman moves among the willows beside a river at night, making up her mind. Tessa Hadley

    6. prowritingaid.com

    25 Best Short Stories of All Time 50 great short stories pdf free download

    How do you capture the human condition in a few pages? With difficulty. Which is why many writers argue that short stories are harder to write, and a much purer form of writing than novels.

    The perfect short story 50 great short stories pdf free download might be comedic, fast-paced and exciting, descriptive, or poetic. But the one thing it must do? Get the reader hooked quickly.

    Everything must be perfectly weighted and have a purpose.

    What Is the Best Short Story Ever Written?

    An impossible question to answer, but we can try to get close.

    We’ve put together a list of 25 of the most iconic, most anthologised, best written, or most well-known short stories of all time.

    50 great short stories pdf free download -What Are the Best Short Story Collections?

    To start us off, here are some authors that many consider to be the masters of the short story. We’ve highlighted some of their most popular works, but check out their full collections for classic examples of incredible short stories.

    7. owlcation.com

    The Best Short Stories of All Time Online

    Howard is an avid short story reader who likes to help others find and understand stories.

    Here is a selection of some of the best, most anthologized short stories ever. No doubt you’ll find many familiar titles here, but I hope you also discover something new.

    These narratives are sterling examples of the short story form. They have endured, bringing enjoyment to readers for many years.

    Most of them are part of the literary canon. You’ll have no trouble finding explanatory notes and analysis for these titles if you want to go deeper. But if that’s not for you, don’t let it put you off reading these stories. They can be enjoyed on their own.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *