How should we define the comic character, Yephikodov, in the play Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Anton Chekhov's comedic character in The Cherry Orchard, Simon Yephikodov, embodies a Shakespearean quality as he is the Chekhovian representation of the urbane Shakespearean Fool: He is part of an unrequited love triangle; he is the unwitting cause of the conflict of the play; and he is lucky enough to get the girl in the end despite himself.

In addition to these glowing qualities, Yepikhodov is Mrs. Lyuba Ranevsky's financial manger. He has been in charge of running her estate, including the cherry orchard, but it is a task he handled miserably causing the cherry orchard to be put on auction.

The mood created by Yepikhodov is one of amusement; all his co-workers think his clumsiness and ineptitude are a source of merriment, and he adds a fun tone to the play. Some claim this for the overall mood of The Cherry Orchard, which leads them to call the play a comedy, though some say The Cherry Orchard was written after Chekhov had focused once again on drama.

Yepikhodov's class is far below Mrs. Ranevsky's; he is a working clerk. As Gogol made clear earlier in The Overcoat, a clerk's life wasn't a lucrative one, although perhaps a little more so after the Russian Emancipation Proclamation of 1861.

Yepikhodov's bad clerkship--in an era in Russia when social and cultural changes brought about by reforms, one of which was emancipation, were impoverishing the aristocracy as never before--led to the loss of his position and the dislocation of the family he served. However, because of the upheaval, in the end, the love triangle is settled in his favor when Dunyasha agrees to marry him.

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