Serebryakov, a retired professor of arts and his much younger wife Yelena, are visiting his brother-in-law’s estate, which provides the income that the couple live on. In this speech, Serebryakov breaks it to the family that he plans to sell the estate to improve his finances…

I have invited you all here today to announce to you that an inspector is due to call on us. Well, joking aside. It is a serious matter. Good folks I have assembled you here to ask for your advice and your assistance, and being well aware of your kindly dispositions, I expect I will receive just that. I’m a scholarly man, bookish, and I’ve always been a stranger to practical affairs. I cannot get by without the help of experienced and knowledgeable people and I ask you, Uncle Vanya, and you Ilya Ilyich, and you maman… The case is this, that manet omnes una nox, in other words, we all hasten to our end. I am old and ill and therefore I think it timely to regulate my financial affairs to the extent that they affect my family. My life is already over, I am not thinking about myself, but I have a young wife, and a daughter, Sonya.

(Pause.)

To continue to live in the country for me is impossible. We were not created for country life. Yet to live in the town on the income we receive from the estate is also impossible. If we were to sell a wood, for example, that would be an extraordinary measure which could not be repeated every year. We need to seek out some way of guaranteeing ourselves a steady and more or less fixed income. I have thought out one such measure and I have the honour of presenting it to you for your consideration. Without going in to detail, I will outline the scheme to you broadly. Our estate gives a return on average of not more than two per cent. I propose selling it. If we invest the capital gained from it in stocks we will receive in the region of four or five per cent and I believe there would even be a surplus of several thousand, which would allow us to purchase a small dacha in Finland.