Almost 120 years ago, Maxim Gorky published a play called On the Bottom. The brief content of the work will help to understand its essence and dramatic conflicts. Let us discuss the play in more detail and analyze why it has not lost its relevance in the twenty-first century.
At the Bottom: A Brief Content
The play is at the bottom of a piece created for the theatre. The action takes place in one place: a residential home, an institution created to allow the homeless to sleep.
At the bottom of the page is a brief description of the day in the lives of the people who lived at the lodge who ended up in the same place for different reasons. So the play's brief "At the Bottom" should begin by getting to know the characters.
Here are the key actors described by M. Gorky:
- Mikhail Ivanovich Kostylev (54 years old).
Rich and greedy owner of a guest house who is willing to squeeze everything out of his guests. His wife Vasilis is jealous of every man she meets.
- Vasilisa Karpovna (26 years old).
Kostylev's wife. She is 28 years younger than her husband, immoral and greedy for money. Thinking about killing a jealous husband.
- Natalia (20).
Vasilisa's quiet and kind sister. Vaska Ash, one of the overnight guests, falls in love with her. This makes Vasilisa jealous, who has her own plans for Vaska.
- Abram Ivanovich Medvedev (50 years old).
Natalia and Vasilisa's uncle, who works as a policeman. He is fond of selling Kvasnu dumplings, but she does not reciprocate.
- Luke (60).
A wanderer with a lot of life experience. Appears in the night and gives advice to guests on how to get out of the difficult situation.
- Vaska Ash (28 years old).
A thief who dreams of changing his life. He sells the stolen Kostylev and is Vasilisa's lover, but dreams of leaving her and living with Natasha.
- Alesha (20 years old).
A shoemaker who likes to drink. It has sunk to the bottom of the social pile. He doesn't even have enough money to pay Kostylev for a bed-in.
- Andrei Bubnov (45 years old).
A cartucker who once had his own business, but is now on fire.
- Baron (33).
A down-to-earth aristocrat living in a bedsit with Nastya, a 24-year-old virgin.
- Actor (about 40 years old).
A sleeping artist named Sverchkov-Zavolzhsky.
- Andrei Mitrich Ktick (40 years old).
He's fitter; rough, but hard-working. He lives with his wife of 30 years, Anna, who is sick and does not get out of bed. The mite believes it is preventing him from escaping poverty.
- Satin (about 40 years old).
A poor man who once worked at the Telegraph and read a lot.
Introducing the characters, you should continue the short story "At the bottom," describing what happens in each act:
A brief summary of "On the Bottom" begins with the events of the first act. They transport the audience to the dormitory.
On a spring morning, in a large room with a samovar, the Kvashnya salesman talks about a new carer whom she does not want to marry. The woman was recently widowed and happy to be rid of her tyrannical husband. She has no intention of giving up her freedom to another man.
The mite fitter says that she will get married one way or the other. An outraged Kwasnia accuses him of wanting to take his wife to the grave.
Meanwhile, the awake actor helps sick Anna out to breathe fresh air. They meet Kostylev, who is looking for his wife, Vasilisa. He is sure she is having an affair with Vaska Ash, but cannot find her guilty of infidelity. The actor asks Kostylev to forgive half the debt, gets rejected and forgets about Anna.
At this point, Luke appears at the bedside to help the sick woman back into the room.
Drinking cobbler Aleshka meets Vasilisa, searching for the Ash. He says Vaska intends to abandon her for Natasha's sake. Angry Vasilisa recalls that Aleshka did not pay for the stay and drives him out. There, Medvedev is detaining him for disturbing the peace.
Vasilisa in the stands arranges a fight with her sister, and the guests try to separate them.
In the second act of the play, "At the Bottom," the elder Luke tries to console everyone and show a way out of the situation:
- A sick Anne, who complains about her husband's bad life and beatings, says that after her death she will rest.
- For an actor who was about to read poetry to Luke before going for a drink that Baron had won on the cards but has forgotten, the old man suggests contacting a free alcohol clinic. The actor says he should stay sober for a couple of days, and he'll remember everything without help.
- Twice Luke tries to help Ash. The first time Medvedev threatens to arrest Vaska, the old man reassures him that in Siberia, the strong and the smart live "like cucumbers in a greenhouse." When Vasilisa offers to kill Ash for money and get Natasha in return, Luke advises not to listen to her, but to leave the lodgings with his beloved.
The play at the bottom then continues briefly with the following events:
- Kostylev, finding his wife with Ash, sets up a scandal. Vaska is going to beat him, but Luke stops him.
- Anna dies, and Vaska and Luke go to the tavern to find the mite.
- The drunken actor returns to the bedsit with Natasha. He promises to treat the girl for alcoholism before returning to the stage.
- Returning Mite claims he has drunk all the money and cannot bury his wife. Residents promise to help him and go to sleep.
Then things unfold more rapidly in the play "At the Bottom." The third act can be summarized in a chain of events:
- Talk in the backyard. Luke, Mite and Natasha, Baron and Nastya, and Dibnov take part in it.
Nastya tells about a student in love with her. She is raised to laughter by Baron, who claims to have told a story from a tabloid novel. Nastya is offended and leaves. Baron follows her. Natasha admits that she is waiting for a special person to save her from her sister and her husband.
Luca explains how he did not kill the prisoners, that they came into the dacha, which he was guarding. He concludes that he can teach someone else to do good.
Bubnov says that he prefers to tell the truth. Luke then tells a story about a man who hanged himself after learning from a scientist that the righteous earth does not exist.
- The quarrel between Ash and Vasilisa.
Vaska asks Natasha to help him change. Natasha does not like him but agrees, on the condition that Ash doesn't raise her hand. Vasilisa watches the conversation from the window, chases Natasha to put a samovar on and swears with Ash.
- Kostylev quarrels with Luke.
The host of the lodging house believes that the old man should pray for others, not interfere with their lives with his advice. Luke says that there are people who can be fixed and those who cannot be helped. He puts crutches in the second. And the old man is driven out of the lodging-house in anger.
- Family quarrel.
Vasilisa pours water from a boiling samovar onto Natasha's feet. An argument breaks out, in which Ash pushes Kostylev. The owner of the inn falls and dies. Vasilisa calls Vaska the murderer, and he reminds her of how she offered him money for it. Natasha believes she was mutilated to get rid of her, and curses Ash.
In the last act, the characters discuss Luke's disappearance. The mite thinks it's good, Nastya says sorry, Satin calls it a toothless chaff, and Baron calls it a patch.
Then things unfold as follows:
- Nastya and Baron's quarrel.
Nastya declares her desire to leave Baron, Satin likens her intention to the actor's reports that he would go to a medical facility. Baron begins to recall distinguished French ancestors. An argument breaks out between him and Nastya. The actor leaves the room after drinking a glass of vodka.
- The arrival of Bubnov and Medvedev.
Friends bring vodka and a snack. Medvedev was dismissed from the police force, and he now depends on Kvashni. The residents of the lodge drink, have fun, sing songs. Baron comes running in and says the actor hanged himself. Satin is outraged that the fun is being spoiled.
At the Bottom: A Work in Review
The play At the Bottom, which was read by artists from the early 20th century, was first staged at the Moscow Art Museum in 1902. In the first production, Konstantin Stanislavsky, the theatre's director, played the role of Satin himself. Since then, the work has been a success for more than a century.
Here are the features of the play that art critics have singled out:
- The idea and history of creation.
Maxim Gorky conceived At the Bottom in 1900. Impressed by A. Chekhov's plays, he decided to try his hand at drama, and told Stanislavsky about his idea to describe the life of the residents of the lodge. Since the end of the 19th century, Russia has been in crisis, and the play about the people who had fallen has acquired social resonance.
- Theme and conflict.
In the play At the Bottom of the Earth, Gorky raised a series of universal problems - meaning of life, truth and lies, destiny and life choices - and put them into the mouths of those at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
The main conflict in the work is the possibility or impossibility of making a choice. The heroes believe they can fix the situation, receive clues from fate in the form of the elder Luke, but ultimately they do nothing.
The actor prefers rapid suicide to prolonged treatment in a clinic. Nastya prefers to quarrel constantly, but is close to Baron. Ash dreams of living honestly, but keeps stealing and selling stolen goods to his owner.
- Features of composition and genre.
Gorky himself described At the Bottom as a set of "scenes" that occur sequentially. The play is written in the drama genre, which is revealed through the characters "dialogues.
Events in it are linear. In the film, the audience is introduced to the residents of the lodge whose normal life is interrupted by the appearance of the elder Luke. As the plot develops, the new character tries to help the characters find a way out of their complicated situation. The first three acts focus on the conflicts between the characters in which Luke is present.
After his disappearance, there comes the denouement. The characters continue a series of petty conflicts that are interrupted by a mutual falling out. The actor eventually took his own life. Thus, the author symbolically showed the collapse of all the hopes of the heroes. Not only can't they, but they don't want to get out of the bottom.
It is noteworthy that Satine's mouth voiced a position that most of them share: that the event is unpleasant by interrupting the drunken party.
At the bottom of the page was a poignant work that raised themes that are still relevant in the 21st century. Crises continue, and with them, there are people at the bottom. Their vision of the world was ably demonstrated by Gorky at the beginning of the twentieth century.