Showing posts with label Chekov. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chekov. Show all posts

Thursday 21 September 2023

How Chekhov's uncle made his cat frightened of mice!

Anto Chekov in 1889. Image: Wikipedia.

Anton Chekov (1860-1904) wrote a story about his uncle and how inadvertently his uncle trained his cat to become frightened of mice when he was trying to train them to catch mice. At the time the cat was a kitten. Each time a mouse was caught in a trap, uncle Pyotr grabbed his kitten and pushed his/her face towards the mouse. When the mouse was released, the by then terrified kitten ran away.

I think it was the whole experience of being pushed into the mouse. Perhaps the kitten associated the mouse with the handling they'd received from uncle Pyotr. It was a form of negative reinforcement. The opposite to the classic positive reinforcement training model.

It is strange that the 'training' completely upturned the cat's natural predatory drive to catch mice. That said another factor would be that kittens might be cautious around mice as they might believe that they could be harmed. Mice are amazingly brave in the face of instant death in the jaws of a cat. They stand on their hind legs and scream at the top of their voice.


Anton Chekhov, often spelled as Anton Chekov, was a prominent Russian playwright, short story writer, and physician. He was born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, a port city in southern Russia, and passed away on July 15, 1904, in Badenweiler, Germany. Chekhov is considered one of the greatest playwrights and short story writers in world literature.

He is renowned for his unique style that combined naturalism and symbolism, portraying the complexities of human nature and the subtleties of everyday life. Chekhov's works are characterized by their deep psychological insight, realistic dialogue, and the exploration of the human condition.

Some of his most notable works include plays such as "The Seagull," "Uncle Vanya," "Three Sisters," and "The Cherry Orchard." These plays often depict the struggles and disillusionments of the Russian middle class during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In addition to his plays, Chekhov wrote numerous short stories, often with a focus on the lives of ordinary people and their struggles. His short stories are celebrated for their concise yet powerful narratives and exploration of the human psyche.

Chekhov's contributions to literature have had a lasting impact, and his works continue to be widely studied, performed, and appreciated worldwide.

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