Obsolete Ideas in Chekhov's Ghosts and The Cherry Orchard

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“Life’s slipped by just as if I’d never lived at all” - These are the last words of Firs as he lies ill after all have abandoned him at the orchard. As an avid follower of defunct theories, he is unable to accept the fact that what he preaches is what brought him to his ruin. Instead, he blindly blames the “young folks”, a somewhat ironic statement. After a life of servile and selfless devotion, his descendants have left him behind. Firs’s death is symbolic of how the Ranevsky family are now leaving behind all the defunct theories that had taken over them. In the more realistic world it could represent the real end of the feudal Russian way of life. In this discussion, I will be talking about obsolete ideas as seen in the plays Ghosts and The Cherry Orchard.

¬Obsolete ideas are outdated and archaic ideas of life that are no longer relevant in their respective societies but nonetheless are still followed by a few. Though they have lost absolute value in society, people still cling on to them with a strong vehemence. Ibsen and Chekov expose the flaws of the societies they come from, intending to raise awareness in the societies. The purpose of these plays could be to let us know the old and traditional views of the commoners and the laymen of Europe. Both authors use a single family as an attempt to reflect the microscopic changes occurring in society to a macroscopic level. Hence, the households of Mrs. Ranevsky and Mrs. Alving can be perceived as a microcosm of Russia and Norway at that time.

Ibsen wrote Ghosts in the form of a social-political work bringing out different perspectives through characters. Pastor Manders formed the mouthpiece of the society reflecting the societal norms, while Oswald and Mrs. Alving have modern ou...

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...ristocracy game was better than equality. This is seen again in his conversation with Gayev as he talks about certain troubles and when asked what troubles they were, he responded saying, “When the serfs were given their freedom.” From this one would undoubtedly feel that there’s something strange in Firs thoughts.

The various conflicts presented in the play help the readers adopt such radical thoughts allowing the readers to think that it is impractical to follow these defunct theories. The conflicts of different perspectives of characters about various aspects, such as marriage,, help the readers realize the change of opinions of people caused by modernization in the Norwegian society as well as in the Russian society during that time. The authors presents the problems faced by these people with different mind-sets living in the same society through their books.
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