The title of the play, “The Bear” is fairly justified. However, at the first look, it does not clearly show any hint about the story but as we flip through the play, we learn that the title is very much related to the story of the play. The study of the play makes it clear that
Smirnov, the hero of the play, has been branded as ‘The Bear’.
Smirnov is one of the two main characters and behaves very rudely in the play. He is the gentleman who visits Popova seeking payment of her husband’s debts. For his foolish behavior, Popova calls him ‘Bear’. This title name given by Popova to Smirnov is the title of the play as well and is rightly justified and in accordance with the story. But is Smirnov alone is bear?
There are different ways to interpret the title.
It is interesting to look at his work from different perspectives. The Bear could be a reference to the man who barges in on the grieving widow. The Bear could be a reference to the situation that Mrs. Popova finds herself in, being responsible for her husband’s debts. The Bear could be Mrs. Popova, who in a surprise move challenges Mr. Smirnov to a duel. On the other hand, as is known with this story, Chekhov is making a statement about love at first sight, which is what happens between the two main characters.
Love can be “The Bear” in this story. In all these possibilities, title goes hand in hand with the story.