Essay Comedy and Tragedy in The Cherry Orchard

Essay Comedy and Tragedy in The Cherry Orchard

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Comedy and Tragedy in The Cherry Orchard

 
Anton Chekov's The Cherry Orchard serves as a glimpse into the lives of upper middle-class Russians at the turn of the century. The play at times seems to be a regretful account of past mistakes, but at other times it seems very comedic. The final outcome tends to classify it primarily as a tragedy with no shortage of lighthearted moments. It invokes many feelings within the reader: joy, regret, pity, and anger are all expressed among the interactions of several characters with rich and complicated personalities. The reader finds some parts of the characters appealing and some parts disgraceful. This complexity enhances the authenticity of the roles and in turn augments the reader's emotional involvement.

The play centers on the life and estate of Lubov Ranevskya, a middle-aged woman of land-owning lineage. She is extremely emotional and allows her feelings to guide her decisions. As a result, she is generous and even frivolous with her money, giving her an incredible debt. Mme. Ranevskaya's brother Gayev is just as emotional as his sister is; however, he possesses a certain intellectual prowess that Lubov lacks. Both characters exhibit Lubov's tragic flaw: they must continually re-strain themselves from over-expression of their feelings. Another significant character is Lopahin, a local merchant who was raised a peasant but has since acquired much wealth. While the reader enjoys his optimism and respects his business ways, it is tragic that Lopahin sees only the monetary value rather than the sentimental. Lopahin's character is the opposite of Mme. R., and the reader is just as ambivalent toward both. It is also regrettable that almost every character finds his satisfaction fro...


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...y amiable. Yepihodov's poor luck, Gayev's over-expressed emotions, Pishchik's disregard of wealth, and Charlotta's magic all tend to classify this play as a comedy, but it definitely has more somber overtones. The loss of the family property is always a sobering subject for the family; they avoid discussing it at every turn. Lopahin, an old family friend, takes on the responsibility of buying and developing the land and therefore causes some friction in the home. It is tragic that the family whose home this is has to leave, and it is tragic that Lopahin never sees this wealth disappearing. Moreover, it is tragic that only Trofimov tries to see the real wealth in life; he breaks ties with economic gain and devotes himself to be a student of life.

Works Cited:

Chekhov, Anton. The Cherry Orchard. Four Plays. Trans. David Magarshack. New York: Hill & Wang, 1969.

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