The Cherry Orchard
By Anton Chekhov
Departure from Serfdom
The Cherry Orchard was penned in the middle of one the greatest ages of social upheaval in the history of the world. Its author, Anton Chekhov, was born in Russia in 1860, the year before Alexander II, czar of Russia, abolished servitude. Chekhov's grandfather was a servant, but his father went beyond "serfdom," and became a grocer. Chekhov elevated himself to an even higher level by becoming a doctor, a landowner, and a respected author and playwright.
The human tragedies of the Lenin era become known through Chekhov's integration of himself and his ideals into The Cherry Orchard. The Social Democratic Labor Party in Russia was founded in 1898, and in 1903, Lenin was in power as the head of the Bolsheviks. The Cherry Orchard was written in 1904.
In his work, Chekhov places himself, vicariously, in the character of Lopahin.
Lopahin is one of the main characters in The Cherry Orchard. Lopahin is objectively seen as either antagonist or protagonist, dependent on the reader's point of view. He is, just as Chekhov, the descendant of serfs, but has risen above his ancestors' status to become a landowner. He achieves this end through peaceful means. Lopahin personifies the peaceful takeover of a monarchy by the once enslaved serfs.
The emotional aura, which permeates from beginning to end, is a vehicle for Chekhov to stress his lack of animosity of and his compassion for the old ruling class. In Act I, while attempting to be civil and to work within the system, Lopahin addresses MadamÃÂ© Ranevskaya, a landowner. His comments concern her brother, Leonid Andreyevich, and are an attempt to expose the convictions of his heart. Lopahin expresses his lack of aggression toward his friend when he says, "Your...