The Cherry Orchard and Sustainability

In Anton Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard”, social, economic, and environmental themes of sustainability are brought up throughout the plot-line. These themes mainly revolve around the character of Madame Ranevsky, the owner of an estate with a cherry orchard. This gigantic orchard once had a fruitful history but has now become more of a burden for Ranevsky. Ranevsky has a history of running away from situations in her life. For example, after her husband and child die within a month of one another, Ranevsky runs away to Paris. While in Paris, she becomes romantically involved with a man, but is unable to sustain this relationship. She ignored the dysfunction, trying to escape by drinking poison. Another aspect of her life Ranevsky could not sustain was her estate. She was in debt but tried escaping this financial encumbrance by simply acting as though the problem did not exist. By fleeing from the emotional chaos in her relationships and family losses and not facing her debts, Ranevsky’s life was not sustainable. These aspects tore her life apart and left her with no choice but to sell the estate. When Lopakhin bought the estate, he carried out his plan of cutting down the orchard and building cottages for profit. His construction plan, the opposite of environmental sustainability, was the result of Ranevsky’s lack of social and monetary sustainability.

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