Is The Cherry Orchard a tragedy or a comedy? What are the comedic or dramatic elements in the play?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Anton Chekhov conceived of this play, which turned out to be his last, as a comedy,designating it “A Comedy in Four Acts” and even emphasizing to the Moscow Art Theatre that the last act should be “merry and frivolous.”  He suggested that some portions were even farcical.  Nevertheless, most interpretations...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Anton Chekhov conceived of this play, which turned out to be his last, as a comedy,designating it “A Comedy in Four Acts” and even emphasizing to the Moscow Art Theatre that the last act should be “merry and frivolous.”  He suggested that some portions were even farcical.  Nevertheless, most interpretations and theatrical productions have emphasized its tragic aspects. It is understandable why the playwright’s intentions have been largely disregarded; the subject is a serious and depressing one including the family’s loss of their ancestral home and removal from it and other sad developments as well.  The destruction of the orchard also represents the destruction of illusions—sad, to be sure, but perhaps hopeful.

 

Thus, as the inevitable change in society with the dawning of the 20th Century comes, the play represents this time period and portrays an end of an aristocratic era with both tragic and comic elements.  The play is best characterized as a tragicomedy.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team