What is Firs' attitude about emancipation of the serfs and why, in The Cherry Orchard?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this play, it is important to consider how Firs is compared with his grandson, Yasha. Firs is portrayed as the faithful servant of the Ranevsky family, who, because of his deep and enduring loyalty to the family, voluntarily opted to stay after the emancipation of the serfs. He longs for a return to the past, and simpler, less complicated times, and therefore is shown to be opposed to the emancipation of the serfs because of the profound changes it has brought to society. His existence is defined by his relationship to the Ranevsky family, and he is unable to cope without that relationship. Of course, his son, Yasha, completely disagrees with this position as he is a character who longs for social mobility and intends to exploit to the full the options that are now open to him because of the emancipation of the serfs. Thus Firs is against the emancipation because it represents a massive social change that he is unable to embrace or to comprehend. He, like other characters in this excellent play, dwells only in the past and is not able to face the changes of the present.


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