Life and Love: The Looking Glass, Summary & Exercise

Life and Love

The Looking Glass


The Looking Glass is a story written by Russian writer Anton Chekhov. The main character of this story is Nellie who was a daughter of a landowner and in general, she was a young pretty girl whose mind was strongly occupied with getting married as she had a problem of dreaming a New Year Eve while staring at the looking glass, she felt asleep and saw a dream about her future after getting married.

She dreamed about living with a handsome man in a beautiful house. Then in one winter night, her husband was sick suffering from a high fever so she went to doctor Lukitch to ask for help. Although the cook informed her that the doctor was asleep, she didn’t listen and rushed to the doctor’s room. The doctor said that he could not help her as he was sick. He has been treating or take care of people for 3 days so he felt very exhausted and he would come on the next day. He also suggested her going to the next doctor but she said her husband was seriously ill and impossible to reach another doctor. She implored (begged) him and tried hard to convince and finally, he was ready to go.

The doctor’s health condition is not so good so she supported the doctor up to the road and went on a carriage. At 5 in the morning, they reached Nellie’s house where she found that the doctor was as sick as her husband. She thought of going to see another doctor and also remembered her house and her property were in the bank for a mortgage and could not pay the interest, she has six children who were sick, could not study well. Her husband was dying and there was the preparation for the funeral at last. The looking glass fell on the floor then she woke up and realized, it was just the dream.

Now, she has stopped dreaming and is facing the reality of life. Now, the realities don’t necessarily disturb Nellie despite having previously longed to be married. There is a sense that Nellie is contained with her situation and fully aware that what has occupied has been no more than the dream, whether Nellie persuades her dream is difficult to say such as her relief at the end of the story. She may very well marry in the future though it is also possible that she may focus on herself rather than her husband and family. In the end, she realizes that marrying is not necessarily needed and a husband to be happy.

Ways With The Words

A. Match the words with their meanings.

a. exhausted (थकित)vi. tired

b. apparent (सफा)vii. clear

c. vista (दृश्य)  i. vision

d. undulating (छालयुक्त) ii. wavy

e. destined (लक्षित) iii. predetermined

f. stuffy (गुम्सेको)v. suffocating, airless

g. restrain (रोक्नु) iv. prevent, hinder

B. Write the meaning and word class of the following words. Then use them in sentences of your own.

Implore (विन्ती गर्नु)

Meaning: To beg urgently or earnestly. 

Sentence: She implored her parents not to send her away to school.

Despair (निरास हुनु )

Meaning: To be hopeless; to have no hope

Sentence: They're in (the depths of) despair over/about the money they've lost.

Beseech ( विन्ती गर्नु )

Meaning: to request or beg for

Sentence: Stay a little longer, I beseech you!

Eloquent ( बोल्ने शक्ति भएको )

Meaning: effective in expressing meaning by speech

Sentence: She made an eloquent appeal for action.

Whirl (घुमाउनु)

Meaning: To rotate, revolve, spin or turn rapidly.

Sentence: He whirled her around until she felt quite sick.

Egoism (स्वार्थीपना)

Meaning: The tendency to think selfishly with exclusive self-interest in mind.

Sentence: Her egoism made her separate from her friends. 

Agony (वेदना)

Meaning: extreme physical and mental pain

Sentence: She lay there screaming in agony.

Delirious (बर्बराउनु, बौलाह)

Meaning: An temporary mental state with a sudden onset, usually reversible, including symptoms of confusion, inability to concentrate, disorientation, anxiety, and sometimes hallucinations. Causes can include dehydration, drug intoxication, and severe infection.

Sentence: She had a high temperature and was delirious.

Delusive (असत्य)

Meaning: not real or true

Sentence: I harboured the delusive hope that he would return my love.

Compensate ( क्षतिपूर्ति दिनु)

Meaning: To pay or reward someone in exchange for work done or some other consideration.

Sentence: Victims of the crash will be compensated for their injuries.

Mortgage (बन्धक राख्नु )

Meaning: To borrow against a property, to obtain a loan for another purpose by giving away the right of seizure to the lender over a fixed property such as a house or piece of land; to pledge a property in order to get a loan.

Sentence: He obtained a huge loan from the bank mortgaging his property.

Brood ( एउटा परिवारका बच्चाहरू )

Meaning: The children in one family; offspring. 

Sentence: Ann was at the party with her brood.

Prelude ( भूमिका )

Meaning: An introductory or preliminary performance or event.

Sentence: The changes are seen as a prelude to wide-ranging reforms.

D.  Choose the correct word.

a. Sarita was shocking/shocked to hear about earthquake

Sarita was shocked to hear about the earthquake.

b. I think that rainy days in winter are depressing/depressing.

I think that rainy days in winter are depressing.

c. The football match was very exciting/excited. I enjoyed it.

The football match was very exciting. I enjoyed it.

d. The meals at Delight Café are satisfying/satisfied.

The meals at Delight Café are satisfying.

e. I've got nothing to do. I'm boring/bored.

I've got nothing to do. I'm bored.

f. Tanka is very good at telling funny stories. He can be very amusing/amused.

Tanka is very good at telling funny stories. He can be very amusing.

g.The teacher's explanation was confusing/confused. Most of the students didn't understand it.

The teacher's explanation was confusing. Most of the students didn't understand it.

h. He is such a boring/bored person. He never wants to go out.

He is such a boring person. He never wants to go out.

i. I will be surprising/surprised if she does well in her test.

I will be surprised if she does well in her test.

j. Are you interesting/interested in politics?

Are you interested in politics?

E. Write the correct form of the adjective in the blanks as in the example.

Example- Grammar rules frustrate me. They're not logical. They are so frustrating.

a. They frustrate me but they don't bore me. I never get......    when I study grammar.

They frustrate me but they don't bore me. I never get bored when I study grammar.

b. If teachers want to interest the students, they must use...... materials.

If teachers want to interest the students, they must use interesting materials.

c. Certain stories interest almost everybody. For example, most students are ...... in fairy tales.

Certain stories interest almost everybody. For example, most students are interested in fairy tales.

d. Certain things frighten me, but I never get ...... when I speak English.

Certain things frighten me, but I never get frightened when I speak English.

e. If I get a good grade, that excites me. And if I get more than ninety percent, I am really ........

If I get a good grade, that excites me. And if I get more than ninety percent, I am really excited.


 Answer these questions.

a) Who was Nellie? What did she use to dream of ?


Ans: Nellie, the daughter of a landowner and general, was a young and pretty girl.

b) What was she doing with the looking glass?

Ans: She was dreaming day and night of being married.

c) Why did she go to the doctor on one winter night?

Ans: She went to the doctor on-one winter night to call the doctor to treat her husband.

(d) What was Stepan Lukitch doing when she reached his bedroom?

Ans: Stepan Lukitch was lying on his bed when Nellie reached his bedroom.

(e) Why was the doctor not ready to go to see her husband?

The doctor was not ready to go to see her husband because he had been away for the last three days The doctor was seeing typhus patients and was exhausted.

(f) Why did Stepan Lukitch suggest Nellie to go to the Zemstvo doctor?

Stepan Lukitch suggested Nellie to go to the Zemstvo doctor because he was in a fever and his head was in a whirl.

(g) Nellie said, "Come, perform that heroic deed! Have pity on us!" What was that pity to be done?

Ans: The doctor did not like to Nellie's husband but the doctor had to treat him. Treatment was to be done.

(h) When Nellie said, "I must have fallen asleep." What does it mean?

Ans: Nellie stopped dreaming and was ready for facing the realities of life.

(i) What is the main theme of the story?

Ans: In The Looking-Glass by Anton Chekhov there is the theme of devotion, loneliness, escape, fear, love, dedication, hope, defeat and independence.

Critical thinking

(a) "The looking glass (mirror)" is used as a symbol in the story. What does it symbolise?

The Looking Glass symbolizes Nellie's imagination and desire to be married. In the story, the looking glass or mirror remains to be important because it reveals the future. Mirror remains to be instrumental because it serves as a window to her sub consciousness.  The major part of the story revolves around the dream of Nellie. Her dream goes on to scare because of her inability. The looking-glass offers Nellie an outlet to escape from the life that she is living. She is a single and unattached woman who desires to find a man who will love her. In fact, she is seeking happiness through marriage. Using her dream, the story writer exhibits her internal conflict within herself and her challenges to relate her problems with others. Chekhov exposes Nellie's inner feelings, her fears and the manner she continues to feel helpless. The use of looking glass makes the story successful as it brings together its goals and objectives to readers.

B) Chekhov employs the magic trick in the story, using a very elegant transition from reality to imagination to reality sequence. Discuss its relevance to life of young people.

Ans: Chekhov employs the magic trick in the story, using a very elegant transition from reality to imagination to reality sequence. It moves systematically explanations from the beginning of the story to the dream of the main character described until the character wakes up. He has used the image of grey background to shift from reality to imagination.

At the beginning of the story, she was looking at her mirror in her room. She started day dreaming in grey background of her mirror. She imagined being married and her husband was sick. At last, her mirror fell from her hand and the grey background disappeared. In this way, Chekhov has cleverly used the image of grey background to present Nellie's fantasy. The transition from reality to imagination is relevant to life of young people because most of the young people live in imaginative world. They love to live in fantasy. Youth create world of imagination for themselves. In the story Nellie's imaginative life partner name is not mentioned. It shows that she represents average young people who have same kind of fantasy for their destined one.

Most young people dream of their life as in the fairy tales; it is full of happiness and perfection. They compare themselves to comfortable characters of the fanciful movies. Every girl like Nellie imagines her life partner to be handsome and smart with a charming smile. So, Anton Chekhov uses transition from reality to imagination to capture the heart and sentiments of young people like Nellie. Most of the young people are victim of their so called ideal person's social life. They are influenced by movies, books and reality shows. They try to copy it but due to their economic status they fail to follow it. As a result, they are obliged to do daydreaming. It is the only way to fulfill their unfulfilled desires.


Write a couple of paragraphs about an interesting dream that you have had

We all have dreams. Most of the nights we are dreaming. But these dreams are not clear to us. We soon forget them and remember nothing when the day breaks. Now and then we have a dream which is so clear that it becomes like a cinematographic picture on the screen of our imagination. We remember the dream forever and forever as if it was something that actually happened to us.

I had one such dream just one night just before a child was expected to be born in our family.

I saw that I was visiting an old stone house in Mustang or some mountainous country. There lived an English couple in that house and they had a small baby who was very beautiful. There came a snake charmer with a basket of snakes. He played upon his pipe so that the snakes came out of the basket. They danced and played with the child quite harmlessly.

The boy was very handsome, always laughing, always chattering. He would print a long kiss on the face of the person who said to him, “Master Printer, print a line”. His name was Master Printer and his job was to print a kiss on the face of those who loved him.

When the child was born in our house, it was not he but she. It was not Master Printer but Miss Print. So we now call her Miss Print. As Miss Print also means “Misprint” it is as if we have a misprint because somehow the child who was to be a boy became a girl. But this girl is highly boyish and I call her a girl equal to eight boys.


B. Match the expressions with their functions.

1. A: What do you want to take?

B: I'll have tea, please.

 Ans: Deciding

2. A: Are you free this evening?

B: No, I'm going to meet my uncle.

Ans: Expressing a prior plan

3. The day will be lovely tomorrow.

Ans: Predicting a future action

4. There is no cloud in the sky.

It's going to be a lovely day.

Ans: Predicting with evidence

5. Don't worry. I won't tell anyone.

Ans: Promising

6. I'll take you to the movies if you like.

Ans: Offering

7. I'll tell your parents what you did.

Ans: Threatening

C. Choose the correct answer.

Will and be going to

. Preplanned actions/decisions- be going to

• Instant decision-will

a. A: Are you busy this evening?

B: Yes, I................the movies. (will go/am going to)

Answer: I am going to the movies.

b. A: Where are you going for holiday this summer?

B: Not sure yet. Maybe llam. (will go/am going to)

Answer: Maybe I will go to llam.

c. I think you...... like this movie. (will /are going to)

Answer: I think you will like this movie.

d. I can't join you at the party, away for two weeks. (will /am going to)

Answer: I am going to be away for two weeks.

e. This exercise looks really hard. you. (will/am going to)

Answer: I will help you.

f. A: Hello. Can I speak to Sima, please?

B: Just a minute. ..........get her. (will/am going to)

Answer: I will get her.

g. Perhaps she......... pass the exam. (will/is going to)

Answer: Perhaps she will pass the exam.



h. I haven't got my phone.' 'That's OK. ........lend you mine! (will/am going to)

Answer: I will lend you mine.

D. Complete the sentences using will or be going to with the verbs.


Is/am/are+going to

1. Hari: Did you call Bina? Prem: Oh, I forgot. I will call.. her now. (call)

2. Sunita: Have you got a ticket for the play? Hema: Yes, I am going to on Saturday. (watch)

3. The alarm is ringing. It's making an awful noise.' 'OK, I will off (switch)

4. Do you think they....will like...... the presents we got for them? (like)

5. 'Lok is starting university tomorrow. What is he going' (he/study)

6. If I meet him, ..will tell........him the news. (tell)

7. The phone is ringing. I...will (answer)

8. If you don't stop bullying her, I...will tell... the teacher. (tell)

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