Who represents the past in The Cherry Orchard?  

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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Cherry Orchard, there are several characters that represent the past. One of the characters is the mother, Lyubov Ranevskaya. Although her life is falling apart and she is losing her beloved cherry orchard, she refuses to accept reality, believing that everything will remain the same as it was in her past. One scene that is a very good example of this is in Act I, when she is looking out at the orchard and she says, “Oh my childhood! My purity! This was the nursery I slept in, those were the windows through which I gazed out at the orchard, each morning happiness woke with me, and the orchard was exactly the same back then, nothing has changed” (Act I). The audience knows that everything has changed. Ranevskaya herself ran away from her family to escape reality. She lost a son. The family is in a dire financial crisis. Things are not at all the same.

Ghayev also represents the past. He is also ignoring the financial situation of the family, acknowledging only vaguely that he should get a job. In Act I, he talks to an antique bookcase as if the bookcase is alive. He says, “Our dear, our valuable, our greatly respected bookcase! I welcome your presence, your existence among us, that for one hundred years or more now has been directed to the bright ideals of  kindness and justice (Act I).” Ghayev’s respect for and dedication to the past is evident in his admiration for the bookcase, an antique object.