The Significance of Wooden Objects in “The Cherry Orchard”

In addition to the significance of the cherry orchard, there is also meaning in the use of wooden objects throughout the play.

The nobles are able to use wooden objects to their advantage and comfort. This comfort is not only physical comfort, as when Firs places a footstool for Madame Ranevsky, but also psychological comfort.  This is seen when Madame Ranevsky adresses a cupboard and table with affection, while caressing them. Gayef later speaks about the significance of the hundred-year-old cupboard, directly addressing it while lavishing it with praises. This psychological comfort is derived from what these objects represents, vestiges of the past, a past the nobles loved and knew. No longer understanding their place, they look back to the past.

There is also significance of the walking stick, another wooden object. The walking stick is first introduced by Firs, who walks with it. Firs, although a peasant, clings to the old order, believing he was better off as a serf. For Lopakhin, however, walking sticks carry a different memory, as he was beaten with a walking stick by his peasant father. Lopakhin seeks to escape the oppression of the old order that the walking stick represents. This symbolism is seen again when Barbara uses the walking stick to threaten Ephikhodof, who annoyed her with his request to be treated with respect. She then accidentally hits  Lopakhin with the walking stick, perhaps representing his continued feelings of oppression.

These are but a few examples of the rich symbolism of wooden objects in the play, which play much the same role as the orchard. However, unlike the orchard, their physical presence on stage creates a more nuanced symbolism.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *