The Cherry Orchard is about an aristocratic family that is unable to prevent its beloved estate from being auctioned off. More symbolically, it is about the growth of the middle class in Russia and the fall of the aristocracy. The once-wealthy family's estate and beloved orchard is purchased by a man who once served as a serf on the estate. Though Chekhov intended the play as a comedy, most productions emphasize the tragedy of the events. Mrs. Ranevsky and her family are unable to find a way to succeed within the new social order of Russia, while Lopakhin profits from the business opportunity and gains personal satisfaction in displacing those who once ruled over him.
Apathy and Passivity
For Mrs. Ranevsky, her daughters, and her brother Leonid Gayev, apathy and passivity have become a way of life, as Mrs. Ranevsky's line "if only this heavy load could be lifted from my heart; if only I could forget my past!'' reveals. Mrs. Ranevsky has given up trying to change her circumstances and is resigned to taking her life as it comes. She goes out to expensive lunches, buys a gift for Anya, lends her neighbor Pishchik money, and gives a gold piece to the homeless hiker in Act Two. Mrs. Ranevsky refuses to accept that she can change her circumstances by changing her behavior. She becomes passive and allows the auction to take place. Gayev, Anya, and Varya also become passive in the situation, and continue to believe that everything will work...
(The entire section is 1286 words.)
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