In his play, Anton Chekhov has Ivan Lomov boasting and trying to show off his inheritance to Natalya before proposing to her. This is before they start to argue about who owns the oxen meadows next to the Stepanova’s birchwoods. Ivan letting Natalya know about the land he owns is a bit similar to people today buying big, shiny diamond rings and finding expensive places to propose at to let others and their partner know that you have valuables to offer. I think that Chekhov is saying that marriage proposals are usually just a way for people to show off and let others what they have even if it’s just your partner. In the end it’s all about boosting one’s egos and feeling like “The man”, demonstrating the performative aspect of marriage proposals, especially public ones.
Chekhov demonstrates this idea of “Symbolic gendering” by having Ivan ask Natalya’s father for her hand in marriage. I think that “The Marriage Proposal” is outdated with its execution; however, it still does a good job at demonstrating the gender roles of marriage proposals and how they should be. Instead of using land and livestock to convince your partner to marry you, men use rings, trips and specific places to show that they are “worthy” of a “Yes!”.