Theatre is not merely for the enjoyment of an audience. Rather, theatre can be used as a political statement, a way to unite social classes, or even as medium to retell a historical event. The play The Cherry Orchard, written by Anton Chekhov, is no exception to this statement.The play, through its presentation of the inability of the aristocratic class in maintaining their power and stature, is used to demonstrate and explain the tumultuous and class driven struggle that defined and plagued the Russian Empire for many years, particularly in the beginning of the twentieth century.
The use of symbolism in the play The Cherry Orchard, particularly with the use of the cherry orchard itself, clearly demonstrates and helps to explain the aristocratic struggle that is central within the play. Within the play, the cherry orchard, for which the play is titled, is the central, immense object at the center of the play; all the characters are drawn to the orchard, and its mere presence drives the action within the play. However, it is immediately discovered that the cherry orchard, which once produced a prosperous crop every year no longer yields any profit. It has become a mere relic of the past, a glorified symbol of what once was. On a more metaphorical level, the cherry orchard represents the past, and in turn, the individual memories associated with it.
These memories are as unique and varying as the individual personalities that each memory is associated with. They vary by age as well as by class. Regarding age, it was clear that the older generations of Firs and Ranevksy thought of the cherry orchard with a deep sense of nostalgia and associate the orchard with a glorified past where class lines were obvious and never challenged. In contrast, the younger generations of Trofimov and Anya come to connect the idea of the orchard to that of repression of and the abuses towards the peasantry class. Within the context of class, there is again a stark difference in viewing the cherry orchard. For instance, Lopakhin of the middle class, associated the cherry orchard with the harsh life of growing up as a peasant with an abusive father. In contrast, Ranevksy of the upper class connects the orchard with her own affectionate childhood memories.
In conclusion, in the playThe Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, the symbol of the cherry orchard is all encompassing and truly drives the action of the play. It serves as a source of nostalgia, whether that is good or bad, and depends on the individual nature of the character.