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The Cherry Orchard Essay Research Paper The

The Cherry Orchard Essay, Research Paper The Cherry Orchard The Misunderstood Comedy Essay #4 Eva Knowles E.H. 151-2 12/17/1999 When the first production of The Cherry Orchard was performed on

The Cherry Orchard Essay, Research Paper

The Cherry Orchard The Misunderstood Comedy

Essay #4

Eva Knowles

E.H. 151-2 12/17/1999

When the first production of The Cherry Orchard was performed on

stage in Moscow, there was a significant difference of opinion between the

author and directors. Chekhov strongly faulted the directors interpretation

that the play should be preformed as a tragedy and insisted that what he

had written was a comedy. The famous philosopher Aristotle defined a comedy as "an imitation of characters of a lower type who are not bad in

themselves but whose faults possess something ludicrous in them."

The misinterpretation of The Cherry Orchard could be mainly due to

a misunderstanding of the comic character. A "comic" character is

generally supposed to keep an audience in fits of laughter, but this does

not always have to be so. The sympathy and compassion the main character’s in The Cherry Orchard bring out in the reader should not blind them to the fact that they are virtually comic characters. For example what character could be more ludicrous then a "typical" patrician like Gayev ,whose main characteristics according to Chekhov were "suavity and elegance," turning to his sister and demanding that she should choose between him and a footman like Yasha? And is not the fact that Gayev became a "bank official" ludicrous, particularly since it is made quite clear to the reader that he would not be able to hold a job for even a month? Not to mention the love affair of Lyubov, ludicrous from it’s beginning to it’s tragic end? In a letter to his wife Chekhov wrote that "nothing but death could subdue a woman like that." He also wrote that he saw Lyubov as "tastefully, but not gorgeously dressed; intelligent, very good natured, absent minded; friendly and gracious to everyone, always a smile on her face.(Bloom 1999)" Is this the outward appearance of a women who by the end of Act II has "lost her life," or in other words thrown it away on trifles? It is this that forms the ludicrous or comic essence of Lyubov’s character. True, Lyubov?s character does have her tragic moments. At the end of act four, Ania refers to her mother as to having been crying all morning. Lyubov also expresses a lot of stress from not having money, even though her actions do not show it.

The main theme of the play can be generally taken to be the passing

of the old order of Russian society, symbolized by the sale of the cherry

orchard. Since Chekhov did not belong to the ranks of the Ranevsky family,

unlike other authors who had written plays on the same theme, Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard without becoming personally involved. He was able to see the the comedy of the whole situation and give it an artistic form of a play full of comic characters. Nothing was further form Chekhov’s thoughts then that his characters should spread a feeling of gloom or depression on his audience. Therefore the symbolism of the cherry orchard had nothing to do with it’s sale. All it expresses is one of the common reoccurring themes in Chekhov’s plays( Dimmond 1962) : the destruction of beauty by those who are utterly blind to it.

" All Russia is our Garden," Trofimov says to Anya at the end of

Act II. Then he adds: " The earth is great and beautiful and there are many

wonderful places in it." Trofimov’s words are meant as a warning for all

the Ranevsky’s in the world, a warning that can be understood everywhere.

The Cherry Orchard is only a material object meant to symbolize many

things; to Lopakhin is is only an excellent site for development, to Firs

it means the cart loads of dried cherries sent off to town in "the good old

days" and to Lyubov, it means a family history, which she herself never

quite understands.

Every one of the many characters was carefully planned out to show some purpose in the message conveyed in The Cherry Orchard. Chekhov is able to show "the very core of humanity in even the most ridiculous of clowns in the play(Dimmond 1962)." The importance of the use of comedy in the play conveys the importance of comedy in our lives. It shows the reader how the most ridiculous moments and decisions are probably the most important ones.

Sources

Bloom Harold. Modern Critical Views of Anton Chekhov Chelsea House

Publishing Philadelphia 1999

Chekhov Anton. The Cherry Orchard. University of Minnesota 1965

Dimmond Ernest J. Chekhov a Bibliography An Atlantic Monthly

Pressbook Boston 1962

Eekman Thomas. Chekhov’s Art of Writing, a collection of Critcal essays.

Siavica Publishers, Inc. Columbus Ohio 1977

Meister Charles. Chekhov, Criticism 1880 through 1986 McFarland and

Co. Inc. London 1988

Turner CJ. Time and Temporal Structure in Chekhov Birmingham

Slavonic Monographs 1994

Valency Maurice. The Breaking String Oxford University Press New York

1966

Wellek Nonna and Wellek Rene. Chekhov, New Prespectives Prentice –

Hall Inc. New Jersey

Winner Thomas. Chechov and his Prose New York New York Holt,

Rhinhart, and Winston 1966

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