On a country farm owned by the pompous, retired professor Alexander Serebryakov, Ivan Vanya Voynitsky languishes in a funk of dyspeptic self-loathing. Vanya has sacrificed his life to support Serebryakov, and now finds himself sliding into middle-aged obsolescence. He lusts after the professor's young, worldly wife, Yelena; he carps and quarrels; he contemplates suicide. His friend, hard-drinking proto-environmentalist Doctor Astrov, chides Vanya for his laziness, but the physician also feels curiously useless. When Serebryakov unveils his plans to sell the farm, a lifetime of resentment explodes, provoking hilarity and hysteria.