The Cherry Orchard as a Comedy
The Cherry Orchard serves as a glimpse into the lives of upper middle Russian at the turn of the century. The play at times seems to be regretful account past mistakes, but at other times it seems very comedic. The final outcome s to classify primarily as a tragedy with no shortage of it hearted 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 company enhances the authenticity of the roles and in turn augments the reader’s emotional involvement.
Whether The Cherry Orchard is a comedy or tragedy, is a serious and a bit ambiguous question about this play. Notwithstanding, some lavishly humorous situations, characters and dialogues, “The Cherry Orchard” is barely like a comedy in the known sense. And yet Chekhov exhorted that it was a comedy and in places even a force. In his billet-doux addressed to M.P. Cilina, wife of Stanishlavsky says Chekhov, “Not a drama but a comedy has emerged from me; in places even a farce”, while Stanislavsky challenged his view in an epistle to Chekhov. “It is not a comedy or a farce as you wrote, it is a tragedy, whatever you way out, you may have found for a better life in the last act.”
As per principles of tragedies of different ages, The Cherry Orchard is not up to them. The play, in the point of fact, conforms entirely to Aristotle’s definition of comedy:
“As an imitation of characters of a lower stratum, which are not internally inferior, but whose faults and shortcomings possess something ludicrous.”
The polemics over the interpretation of The Cherry Orchard is certainly one of the most intriguing problems. The comedy, in the play, is more implied than stated. Such specimen of laughter through tars is rarely witnessed. The situation presents in the play, is at heart pathetic. A family is going to be deprived of their estate. Once affluent landlords, the owner of the house are now surviving with borrowed money. And that to pay back their debt they have to auction their estate under the law. Though the waggish elements in the play have to be looked for deeper but some of the situations and remarks are humorous beyond the shadow of doubt. Yepichodov’s melancholies, for instance, do make us roll on the floor with laughter. So do Pishchik’s concern and Gayer’s billiards cues which he employs as conclusion of even some of his most sober speeches, “Pot the yellow in the middle”.
And though, pathetic it appears to be, Lyubov’s affair de Coeur seems ludicrous in essence. So is Yepichodov’s love for Dunyasha, her love for Yasha, Pishchik’s honeyed words to Lyubov, his style for begging a loan, Trofimov’s inability to be head over heels Anya’s eulogy for his high flown outlook, ignoring her need of his heartfelt love! Lopakhin’s inaptitude to proposes to Varya and Yasha’s derelict remarks for Russians.
Trofimov’s articulate speeches on socio-political theme in response to Anya’s ferrent expression of affection are truly farcical. Yasha, too, behaves in the same softheaded way in response to Dunyasha’s amorous advances Lopokhin’s sole concern remains strictly confined to his ambition of business projects.
For example, no character could be more ludicrous then a patrician like Gayev, whose characteristics according to Chekhov is “suavity and elegance”. It is not the fact that Gayev becomes a bank official that is laughable but that sense the beginning of the play it is made quite clear that he would not be able to hold a job for even a month. It is also ironic that Gayev would become a bank official considering that it is obvious that he and the rest of his family are all terrible with money. Along with Gayev his sister’s ability to understand business and budget their money is completely ludicrous. Throughout the play Ranyevskaya continuously spends money although the family is broke and losing everything they own. She has Leonid give Pishchik two hundred and forty rubles although she has told Pishchik “I have no money, my sweet.” This is ridiculous and the reader has to laugh at the ignorance of this family.
Even more ludicrous is Ranyevskaya concern for the loss of her belongs but makes no attempt to save them. After Lopakhin has spent act one and some of act two explaining how to save the land Ranyevskaya is ably to ask, “what can we possibly do? Tell us.” This leaves Lopakhin to make a comical comment about this family “such a strange unbusiness like people.” Although tragic events are taking place throughout the play, the characters’ actions and dialect are comical.
The symbolism of the sale of the cherry orchard can be sent as comical; it turns out to be a seminal icon for the memories of the family. This play is generated on seminal values of this family. No one in the family wants to see the cherry orchard go but it is! ludicrous that the family does not see that the cherry orchard is going either by sale or development. The view of the cherry Orchard as a seminal object also effects the true objective of the cherry orchard. Firs says:
“In the old days, forty, fifty years ago, they used to dry the cherries, they used to soak them, they used to pickle them, they used to make jam out of them, and year after year.”
Chekhov is able to illustrate that the core of humanity is full of preposterous emotions and ideas. Apart from the elusive humour in The Cherry Orchard, Chekov was a top-Notch humorist in his own right. He came to e known early for his divergent humour. As a critic purposes,
“Throughout, The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov places the action on a knife edge between laughter and tears. But he intends to weigh on the side of the comic, not against it.”
Another critic writes about Russians,
“Russians very frequently laugh where one ought to weep.”
The play, it is true, has plenty of emotional undercurrents but they are all of hilarious nature. Some of the critics have come up with sound reasons for labelling this play a comedy. To wind up the discussion, it may be concluded that there are arguments on either side. But the writer’s word counts more than what the critics say. Since Chekhov called the play on comedy, the conclusion should certainly weigh that way.