The Cherry Orchard Themes | Main Idea Behind Russian Revolution

The Cherry Orchard Themes

The Cherry orchard depicts chain of events of a Russian elite family that does not able to prevent its loved Cherry Orchard from public sale and as a result ultimately it becomes one of the most important themes of this play. Symbolically, the play is more or less about the blossoming of the lower-class in Russia and portrays the tale of downfall of the elite class. At the end of play, we come to know that a servant, whose families were serfs, termed Lopakhin in the play, purchases the estate of a wealthy and well settled family.

“The Cherry Orchard” has been planned as comedy as writer of the play Anton Chekhov himself once said that the play is a comedy yet production of the play accentuates such occasions, from which we can finally conclude that it is not purely but partially a tragedy. Following are the major themes of “The Cherry Orchard”:

The Cherry Orchard Themes
The Cherry Orchard Themes

Spiritlessness and Inactivity:

It is among the most highlighted themes of “The Cherry Orchard”. It is not wrong to say that from start of the play to its end, this theme blows soul in the plot. We can remember dialogue of Mrs. Ranevsky when she addresses:

“If only this heavy load could be lifted from my heart; if only I could forget my past!”.

Meaning thereby that she is expecting a miracle, through which problems of her life should be solved but that never happens. She herself and her daughter along with her brother want to do nothing to change their condition and eventually their condition which becomes miserable with the passage of every single second. Attitude of Mrs. Ranevsky’s offspring, Leonid Gayev and even her stepdaughter’s attitude towards life and work is full of passivity as well as indolence. It has become a routine life for them to do nothing. It is because they have never done anything in their lives neither when they were teenagers nor when they become young and grew old.

The most prominent lady of the play, on whom the attitude of other characters is dependent, has intended not to do anything and to stop “The Cherry Orchard” from being auctioned. In this way, the play ends before climax because of the spiritlessness of Mr. Ranevsky.

Traditional Behavior of Mrs. Ranvesky:

Although we feel from her behavior that she is not doing anything to change her fate yet there is something which she is doing; she willfully and happily goes for classy dinners, gifts expensive things to her near and dear ones and even lends money to her neighbors knowingly that she herself is in debt. There is something further that she does very perfectly; she creates her own imaginary happiness, spending money on irrelevant things. She does not take precautionary measures even when her estate is going to collapse. It is another reason due to which she eventually falls from prosperity to adversity, which gives the play “The Cherry Orchard” an important theme, which must be added at first in the list of themes of “The Cherry Orchard”.

Resistance to Change:

It has been said since long that change is the law of nature. Time has proved that things do not remain consistent yet this fact does not effect on Ranevsky’s family. In Russia, people are finding new ways of earning but this stubborn family creates resistance in change. Lopakhin gives the best idea, through which auction proceedings might be stopped, however, everyone rejects his idea of cutting The Cherry Orchard and splitting the land into small plots. Suggestion of this new business man was ignored which shows that “Resistance to Change” and not to go with the flow are the most important themes of “The Cherry Orchard”.

It is not the case that Mrs. Ranevsky expresses strong opinion when she rejects the very idea of Lopakhin. She just considers “The Cherry Orchard” as the most beautiful thing in Russia, however, at the end neither she could save her estate nor the orchard. Audience can clearly listen trees cutting noise at the end of play when Mrs. Ranevsky along with her family leaves her estate. Besides Mrs. Ranevsky family, many other landowners of Russia could not save their estates and went in debt while fighting with revolution.

Difference between appearance and reality : | Best Themes of “The Cherry Orchard”:

Mrs. Ranevsky and her forefathers were living in the estate of The Cherry Orchard since long. Apparently it seems to us that they are wealthy as they are still living luxurious lives but it is not true at all, hence, it is one of the major themes of “The Cherry Orchard” i.e. the appearance and reality. We can see only apparent wealth of Mrs. Ranevsky but Lopakhin is the one who is the wealthiest person among all of them. He is no more a serf like his forefathers. Revolution is not only a blessing but a miracle for him.

Apparent wealthy family, on the other hand, is going to destitute. They are just existing in that class, which is not further theirs. Maintaining social status in the vicinity does not give them any benefit. In the dynamic societal conditions of Russia, in which the “Cherry Orchard” takes place, we found appearance and reality as two other themes of this play. Wealth is apparent for Ranevsky family whereas in reality Lopakhin is the real wealthy person.

Freewill and results:

If it is not enough then Freewill and result are two other themes of “The Cherry Orchard”. Everyone in the play, including Lopakhin, was free to decide what to do. If estate of Mrs. Ranevsky has been auctioned it is none else but her own fault. Lopakhin worked hard and becomes at the end wealthy businessman of Russia. Anton Chekhov though marked this play a pure comedy yet it is more than that. He has given everyone a message; if one wants success, he must do something to get it. Nothing is free. It is on a person weather he spends his whole life blaming nature and fate or he does something to change his condition.

Lopakhin had the option of buying “The Cherry Orchard” and he does so with his freewill. Mrs. Ranevsky had the freewill to waste her time and money and she also keep doing so. Both of them though were opposite to each other but they had freewill and their choices decided their fates.

Classes Conflicts and Socialism as Themes of “The Cherry Orchard”:

Anton Chekhov has portrayed two major classes in this play. One is the elite class and second is the lower class. Critics are of the view that middle class has also been portrayed but its depiction is very rare. Mrs. Ranevsky belongs to wealthy class of landlords and Lopakhin belongs to the lowest class of serfs. However, one major character in the play is Yasha, and second to his opposite is Firs. Mindsets of both these persons are conflicting. First wants back old days of his life. He wants life before revolution, nonetheless Yasha accepts revolution. Similarly, Lopakhin is more stable then Ranevsky family but still the family does not admit him equal. That was the indifferent attitude of wealthy class towards serfs as a result serfs wanted independence which they got at the end.

In addition, some other prominent themes of The Cherry Orchard are disclosed when Mr. Ranevsky feels that there is no way to get rid of this problem and her family could not be able to find any path to survive in changing atmosphere of Russia. New emerging social class of Russia such like Lopakhin finds new ways of earning profit and always searches for inner satisfaction even from those who once ordered people like Lopakhin to work.

Apart from this, there are some other themes of “The Cherry Orchard” like political change, love, observance conflict, realism, memory and the past, which make this play the most delightful play ever written on Russian Revolution.