Symbolism In The Cherry Orchard Essay, Research Paper
Mamma! Are you crying, mamma? My dear, good, sweet mamma! Darling, I love you! I bless you! The Cherry orchard is sold; it’s gone; its quite true, it’s quite true. But don’t cry, mamma, you’ve still got life before you, you’ve still got your pure and lovely soul. Come with me, darling, and come away from here. We’ll plant a new garden, still lovelier than this. You will see it and understand, and happiness, deep, tranquil happiness will sink down on your soul, like the sun at eventide, and you’ll smile, mamma. Come, darling, come with me!
The Cherry Orchard has been acclaimed as one of the greatest theatrical experiences of all time. It is clearly seen through the use of the more subtle, submerged, and persuasive techniques that he uses in writing this, his most famous play. The Cherry Orchard is important for three reasons: First, for its intrinsic textual richness, linguistic power and subtlety as a piece of dramatic prose; second, because of its crucial position in Russian cultural history as the culmination of all “realist” nineteenth-century fiction and as the first classic of a new, arguably “symbolist” or “absurd” literature; third, because of its seminal role in the evolution of Twentieth-Century theater.
The plot structure in The Cherry Orchard is not as meaningful as the impact of events on the inner sensibilities of the characters. Chekhov divides his characters in The Cherry Orchard in a variety of ways so that the orchard and its sale take on different meaning for each of them. It is necessary then to examine the loss of the cherry through some of the major character; Yermolai Alexeyitch Lopakhin, Peter Trophimot, and Madame Ranevsky. When writing TCO he used these characters to express what the loss meant to each of them.
The Cherry Orchard was composed during the years 1903-1904 while Chekhov was dying of tuberculosis. It was his last work and is considered to be his masterpiece. It was first produced on January 17, 1904 by the Moscow Arts Theater, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his career. The Cherry Orchard then was established as a classic in the 1950’s. It was recognized as a new type of drama due to the controversy of whether it was a comedy or drama.
Anton Chekhov conceived The Cherry Orchard as a comedy but had trouble persuading people it was not a drama. The play fulfills all the conventional requirements of a classical and of a realist drama. It aligns the action with time, from hopeful spring to despairing autumn. It has a crux to the plot that remains unresolved until the end of the third act – Will the estate be sold or saved? It has couples who seem destined to be married, servants who fail to serve a heroine with both grave flaws and charisma. The Cherry Orchard can be read in many ways, as a conflict between hope and despair, between conflicting illusions, or nature and mankind. Above all, it can be read as an evocation of honest pessimism about the outcome of all these conflicts, with only a glimmer of hope and no false consolations. This idea is seen throughout the views of the major characters.
All of Russia is our garden. The earth is great and beautiful; it is full of wonderful places. Think, Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors were serf-owners, owners of living souls. Do not human spirits look at you from every tree in the orchard, form every leaf and every stem? Do you not hear human voices? Oh! It is terrible. Your orchard frightens me.
One can invision the personality of Peter. As the “perpetual student”, he views the orchard as nothing but an image of slavery and repression. Trophimof also experiences the loss of the orchard as a privileged class being demoted to the whole Russia people. The views that each of the characters have are separated by generation, sex, and birth and class.
By age, the new generation Anya, Danyasha, and Yasha view the sale as an opportunity for enterprise of one kind or another, self-interested or altruistic as case may be. Peter and Anya adopted a more impersonal, optimistic view of the orchards loss. They view it as an inevitable but positive redistribution. In addition, the views of Lopahkin and Trophimof compare and contrast according to their sex and social standings.
The Cherry Orchard is mine! Mine! If only my father and grandfather could raise from their graves and see the whole affair, how their Yermolai, their flogged and ignorant Yermolai, who used to run about barefooted in the winter, how this same Yermolai had bought a property that hasn’t its equal for beauty anywhere in the whole world! I have bought the property where my father and grandfather were slaves, where they weren’t even allowed into the kitchen…Come everyone and see Yermolai Lopakhin lay his ax to the cherry orchard, come to see the trees fall down! We’ll fill the place with villas; our grandsons and great-grandsons shall see a new life here…Strike up, music!
Lopakhin is a self-made businessman of whom came along way from his childhood and family of being a poor peasant. Moreover, he acts as a spokesman for hard facts. Therefore, he primarily thinks of the orchard as a means to a wiser investment
One can also sense that his purchase of the orchard is a way of relieving himself and his ancestors from the peasant life they once lived.
The views between Yermolai Lopakhin and Peter Trophimof are alike in some retrospect. By sex, departure from the orchard means an assesment of marital needs and opportunities, and the spinsters, Anya, Varya and Dunyasha are troubled in varying degrees. But Trophimof, Lopakhin and Yasha fail to respond because of other pressures. For the characters that are neither young nor old, Varya, Lopakhin, and Charlotta are ideally concerned with the pressing problems of the present. The orchard’s auction is viewed as an urgent call for decisional practical measures.
Your father was a peasant; mine was a chemist; it doesn’t prove anything. Shut up, shut up…If you offered my twenty thousand pounds I would not take it. I am a free man; nothing that you value so highly, all of you, rich and poor, has the smallest power over me; it’s like thistledown floating on the wind. I can do without you; I can go past you; I’m strong and proud. Mankind marches possible on earth, and I march in the foremost ranks.
In the last act, the characters are closely scrutinized. Trophimof refuses Lopakhin’s loan offer, which shows how the student’s youth and idealism are in pathetic contrast with Lopakhin’s maturity and common sense. Such is also seen with the na?ve Madame Ranevsky.
Madame Ranevsky looks at the orchard and sees her childhood happiness, former innocence and the embodiment of her best values. By these and many other contradictions, the audience views the orchard as an ambiguous and poetic symbol of any human life that is in a state of change. She is incapable of adapting, which is shown when she gives away her purse to peasants at her door. This is a gesture showing her failure to be realistic about her financial circumstances and her paternalistic affection for all that the orchard stood for in the past as well.
Oh the sins that I have committed…I’ve always squandered money at random like a madwoman; I married a man who made nothing but debts…I fell in love and went off with another man; and immediately—that was my first punishment—a blow full on the head…here, in this very river…my little boy was drowned; and I went abroad, right, right away, never to come back anymore, never to see this river again…. I shut my eyes and ran, like a mad thing, and he came after me, pitiless and three years I knew no rest day or night; the sick man tormented and wore down my soul. Then, last year, when my villa was sold to pay my debts, I went off to Paris, and he came and robbed me of everything, myself…. It was all so stupid, so humiliating…. Then suddenly I longed to be back in Russia, in my own country, with my little girl.
Accordingly, the cherry orchard is a particular place and yet it is more. It represents an inextricable tangle of sentiments, which together compromise a way of life and an attitude to life. By the persistent feelings shown towards it, at one extreme by Trophimof, the intellectual for whom it is the image of slavery and repression; by Lopakhin, the business man and spokesman for hard economic facts, the one who thinks of it primarily as a means to a wiser investment, and by Madame Ranvesky, who sees in it her childhood happiness; it is seen from these characters that are woven by their brilliant selection.
Thus, The Cherry Orchard is simplistic, yet complicated at the same time. It has poetic strength and is naturalistically composed, which makes it all the more controversial. The interweaving in the play, the relationships between one generation and another, between the sexes, and ranking of different social classes add to The Cherry Orchard’s interesting balance. It is not hard for one to see why The Cherry Orchard is considered to be Anton Chekhov’s greatest work, and why it shall remain a classic for many years to come.