In the Proposal by Chekhov, an older man, Lomov, visits a woman, Natalya, and her father in order to ask for her hand in marriage. In the beginning of the play, Lomov tells Natalya’s father:
The great thing is, I must have my mind made up. If I give myself time to think, to hesitate, to talk a lot, to look for an ideal, or for real love, then I’ll never get married. … Brr! … It’s cold! Natalya Stepanovna is an excellent housekeeper, not bad-looking, well-educated. … What more do I want? But I’m getting a noise in my ears from excitement. [Drinks] And it’s impossible for me not to marry. … In the first place, I’m already 35–a critical age, so to speak. In the second place, I ought to lead a quiet and regular life.
In this dialogue, it is obvious that Lomov does not love Natalya. However, if he waits for “real love,” he may never become married and live the quiet life that he wants.
However, as he talks more with Natalya, they immediately begin to bicker. The story ends with Lomov, after suffering many heart palpitations and fights with Natalya, saying:
Oh, now I understand … my heart … stars … I’m happy. Natalya Stepanovna. … [Kisses her hand] My foot’s gone to sleep…
This quote represents the transition of how Lomov feels about Natalya. While he did not receive the serenity he wanted, the important part of this line is the fact that he states that “now [he] understands.” This line shows that Lomov now knows what love is, as he finally feels its fighting and exciting nature. These two passages of the play are important because they teach the audience how love changes people. Chekhov shows the audience that while love may not create peace and tranquility, it does create happiness.
Source: The Proposal (Chekhov)