As I read through Cherry Orchard I noticed an interesting relationship developing between the characters. I think that many of the behaviors that the characters exhibit the aristocratic decline that was occurring while Chekhov was writing.
In most interactions between aristocrats and their servants, you would expect there to be a sense of supremacy among the elite. However, the servants, such as Dunyasha, seem to have a certain amount of status in the household. One such example of this would be the informality that Dunyasha shows when she greets Anya upon her arrival in the first scene. Dunyasha immediately says that she has something to tell her that cant wait another minute. Although Anya doesnt appear to be interested in Dunyasha’s problem, she still allows her to talk. This familiarity between the classes shows the breakdown of the social system and the beginnings of the middle class.
However, Madame Ranevsky’s behavior is the best representation fo the coming change in the social system. Ranevsky was born in a period when her family’s wealth was maintained by their name as they would always be held above the peasants. However, in this new system, Ravensky’s wealth has quickly been depleted as she continues to waste her money on pointless things. Throughout the play, Ranevsky never learns her lesson, eventually giving her money away to a passing drunkard. Ranevsky then refuses to sell the orchard for villas and is forced to auction it off. Lopakhin, a peasant made noble, buys the property from the family and proceeds to chop the orchard down. This interaction is a perfect representation of how the middle class is overcoming the aristocrats as the orchard is symbolic of the power of the upper class. In cutting it down, Lopakhin asserts his dominance over the failing aristocrats.
Cherry Orchard is an excellent example of how the old and the new have to learn to coexist as society changes. Lopakhin was able to adapt to the new system and gain massive amounts of wealth for himself, while Madame Ranevsky was unable to change her ways and fell prey to the new social system.