Illustration of a chopped down cherry tree that was cut into logs

The Cherry Orchard

by Anton Chekhov

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Student Question

What is Lopakhin's main character flaw in The Cherry Orchard?

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Lopakhin is a character who represents rising social mobility and also comments on the way that the Ranevskys are going down socially. His grandather was once a serf who worked on the Ranevsky estate, however, now Lopakhin is a wealthy businessman. Being a friend of the family, he spends a lot of time trying to help Madame Ranevsky save the orchard, but is only frustrated when Madame Ranevsky refuses to see the necessity of action and remains focussed on her memories of what the cherry orchard was like when she was a child. Eventually he buys the estate and he makes a rather shocking public display where he expresses his delight in owning the land where his ancestors once worked. His biggest failing is his vulgarity and greed. He is clearly shown to be a symbol of the rising middle class, compared starkly to the sophistication and elegance of the ruling class in Russia.

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What is the main character flaw of Trofimov in The Cherry Orchard?

Trofimov, as one of the "intellectuals" that characterise the new era that Russia is entering, stands for everything that the Ranevsky's are against. Note how he was an inmate in a labour camp, clearly highlighting his involvement in subversive activities. Although he is a figure of fun in lots of ways, and Chekhov tries to inject humour into his character so that he does not come across as to serious an individual, he is shown to be outspoken and critical in many different areas and in sharing his ideas. He is, however, also shown to be very supportive and understanding with Anya, consoling her with the thought that the whole of Russia could be her orchard. If there is a failing that he has, it would be his lack of sensitivity to the Ranevsky family and what they are going through. His dedication to the new ideology that is changing Russia makes him incapable of appreciating just how much characters like Madame Ranevsky will lose.

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What is the main character flaw in Leonid Andreyevitch from The Cherry Orchard?

This play certainly presents us with a range of characters who are shown to be blind to their problems or to ignore them. Leonid is the brother of Madame Ranevsky, and his biggest failing sems to be his complete lack of ability to act to save his family's property. He seems to be addicted to two things: billiards and fruit candies. He loves to talk about various plans and strategies to save his family's fortunes, but crucially, he shows himself completely unable to act on any of these dreams and just remains playing billiards and waiting for someone else to save his family's property. He is like his sister in that both are unable to move away from the past. To both of them, they can only conceive of the cherry orchard as it was when they were children, which prevents them from seeing the very real threat they are facing as it is in danger of being sold. Living in the past too much is shown to be a definite danger in this play as is the inaction and inertia of the rich.

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