The story “The Chameleon” discusses different types of issues associated with an individual’s freedom and the hypocrisy of the people. Russia and other countries have been suppressing the voice of inhabitants because within the totalitarian society, for the sake of personal interest, change, color like “chameleon” and change passion from one excessive to another. Individual freedom is given much less significance in an apparent situation we discover Ochyumelov a hypocritical character. However, in reality, we may be the sufferer of an authoritative society. In decision-making, power appears relatively inadequate. The people of the higher class might have victimized him if he had given restrictions towards them.
The protagonist of “The Chameleon” is an officious police superintendent by the name of Ochyumelov. One day, as he walks through the market square with a parcel under his arm, he hears a sudden commotion. A white Borzoi pet has bitten Hryukin, the goldsmith, on his finger. At first, Ochyumelov could be very sympathetic to the unfortunate sufferer of the dog bite. This crime is an outrage, and an in-depth report should be drawn up instantly.
But when he discovers whose dog it’s, his entire perspective instantly changes. The dog belongs to a local worthy, General Zhigalov. When the policeman finds this out, he begins questioning the integrity of Hryukin’s account of events:
“There’s one thing I can’t make out, how it came to bite you?” Ochyumelov turns to Hryukin. “Surely it couldn’t reach your finger. It’s a little dog, and you are a great hulking fellow! You must have scratched your finger with a nail, and then the idea struck you to get damages for it. We all know… your sort! I know you, devils!”
Here we see Chekhov satirizing the rigid class structure of Tsarist Russia. At first, Ochyumelov seems dedicated to doing his responsibility, decided to resolve the crime. But because the dog involved belongs to a General, a person of significance within the town, he shows his toadying deference in the direction of his social betters by accusing the complainant of injuring himself to acquire compensation.
However, Ochyumelov, being the chameleon that he’s, hasn’t finished changing simply yet. He soon establishes that the dog does not belong to the General to his satisfaction a minimum. There’s no way that a man of such nobility, such breeding would own such an animal. But some people within the gathering crowd are convinced that the dog does undoubtedly belong to the General. So Ochyumelov successfully absolves himself of accountability for what’s occurred; he tells his subordinate to take the dog to the General’s home and ask them not to let it out into the street again, in case it must be tormented or abused.
Ochyumelov is hedging his bets here. He’s not sure whose dog that is. But if it does turn out to belong to the General, then he can say that he was attempting to protect the animal on the grounds of welfare rather than public safety. In different words, Ochyumelov is more involved not to offend the General, a person of quality, than he’s to guarantee that nobody else will get bitten by the dog. Maintaining distinctions of rank and their related privileges is far more necessary to the superintendent than upholding the law.
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Yet this officious, overbearing chameleon is about to vary his colors once more. The General’s cook steps ahead and adamantly insists that the dog doesn’t belong to his master. That settles the matter for Ochyumelov; the dog is a menace and should be put down. The cook mentions that the dog in question belongs to Vladimir Ivanitch, the General’s brother. Ochyumelov performs one other sudden volte-face and lets the cook take the little dog back to the General. It’s solely just a little pup, says the superintendent, a nice little pup, a lively creature that snapped at some chap’s finger. Poor Hryukin stands there within the freezing cold, his finger still hurting, subjected to peals of mocking laughter from the assembled crowd. Worse still, Ochyumelov makes a threatening parting shot:
“I’ll make you smart yet!”
As effectively as being a satire on Tsarist Russian society, “The Chameleon” additionally shows an acute perception of human behavior. All too typically, we adjust our behavior to suit our personal needs, regardless of whether it is the right thing. Ochyumelov is a senior police officer sworn to uphold the law without worry or favor. And but for his ever-changing behavior, constant moral twists and turns result in the injured get together being publicly humiliated and threatened. In contrast, those liable for his injury get away scot-free. The story’s outcome shows us that putting our wants above our responsibility to others, and changing our behavior accordingly, typically results in suffering and injustice.
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