Friday, August 30, 2013

A Farewell To Arms

During First World War Ernest Hemingway has served as ambulance driver for Italian Army. From this experience, Hemingway created a Frederic Henry—the main character of this book—an American Lieutenant who serve in Ambulance corps of Italian Army during First World War, just like him.

The story begins when Frederic was serving on the Italian Front, the battle between the armies of Austria and German against Italy, between 1915 - 1918. His roommate introduced him to Catherine, a Scottish (or English?) nurse served in the same war. One day a mortar shell fell in a ditch where the ambulance drivers were having breakfast. Frederic wounded on his knee, brought to a hospital, where Catherine also joined him, and they fell in love. After their vacation in Milan, Catherine was pregnant, and the couple pretended they were husband and wife (although they never really married). After recovering, Frederic must return to the front. However when Italy was on retreat, Frederic was captured, but managed to get away; and disgusting at the war, decided to desert. Catherine accompanied him in desertion; they went to Switzerland, where she would give birth to the baby.

To be honest, I have expected more about war than the romance from this book. A Farewell To Arms is said to be the bleakest book from Hemingway, maybe it is so, but I don’t feel that way. Anyway, I can’t expect cheerfulness in a war story, can I? However, what annoyed me most is how Frederic and Catherine took their lives for granted. I think it’s not right to rely one’s life only on love; as long as the couple loves each other, everything will be OK. Maybe Hemingway wanted to show us how war makes us depressed and hopeless. After witnessing his comrades died for nothing, it’s natural for Frederic to become skeptical. Still, it didn’t give him rights to deprive life from others. After finding that he loved Catherine, he should have married her and so, provided her and their coming baby with a decent and respectable life.

*spoiler alert* I don’t want to be a severe judge, but I believe that what we did in the past—good or bad—would somehow come back to us, either now or in the future. Seeing Frederic and Catherine, with how they only regarded life as a series of enjoyable moments, I was not surprised with the tragedy they had in the end. It’s clear that Frederic and Catherine were not ready to be parents from the beginning—Frederic wasn’t even touched by his newborn baby(?). And approaching the end, I knew that something terrible must have awaited me, because it’s impossible to have such comforts without suffering something. And the title also speaks about a farewell, doesn’t it? *spoiler end*

Apart from the story, Hemingway’s writing is quite unique. This is the second time I read a stream-of-consciousness novel, and I must say Hemingway’s is much better than Woolf’s—which I have failed with. Maybe it is the stream-of-consciousness, or maybe it’s the lack of moral depth, that made this book felt flat and sometimes boring. After finishing it, I could only ask Hemingway: So, what did you want to say to me? That war is cruel? That life is mortal? (I don’t know about Hemingway, but both Frederic and Catherine here did not have any religion). In short, I felt a hollowness or shallowness from this book, and the only consolation I had is the beautiful way Hemingway wrote about nature, which I also caught in The Old Man and the Sea (my only favorite from him so far).

Three and a half stars for A Farewell To Arms.


I read Vintage Classics paperback edition

*This book is counted as:*

4th book for Baca Bareng BBI 2013: (August) – Books on War

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

War and Peace

 History is the life of nations and of humanity.”

Leo Tolstoy dedicated War and Peace—a historical fiction which he insisted for not being a novel—to convey his ideas about history and war, which is different with what historians at that time believed. Tolstoy crafted his ideas through the lives of five aristocratic families during the French invasion of Russia by Napoleon on the early 19th century. He took us to witness how humanity was built in battle field as well as in soirees and parties Moscow and Petersburg.

The story begins in 1805 when Russia—under the reign of Tsar Alexander I—is expecting war with French.  Then I began to know the proud and resolute Prince Andrew (Andrei) Bolkonski, and his timid and religious sister Princess Mary Bolkonskaya; the temperamental and impetuous Count Nicholas (Nikolai) Rostov, and his impulsive, restless sister, the young countess Natalya (Natasha) Rostova. There are also the very rich, absent-minded Count Pierre (Peter) Bezukhov, and the poor but ambitious Boris Drubetskoy. Throughout the book, their fates (together with so many other characters’) would be entangled one another during the turbulence era of the war. While the war is progressing—Tolstoy portrayed it very vividly as if he is reporting the battle live from the battle field—so are the characters, developing along with their sorrows and happiness, love and hatred.

My most favorite character from the beginning is Prince Andrew. He’s a man who knows what he is doing, and he’s always self-confident. *spoiler alert* Naturally, when he is falling in love with Natasha, I began to hope that the relationship would end up in a happy marriage. Well, I don’t quite like the impulsive Natasha, who always thinks about herself, but I just want Andrew to be happy. So, you can imagine how angry I was with Natasha when she decided to elope with Anatole. Seriously, how could she ever think about it at all?? OK, I understand how she must have felt, in her youth, to be separated with her fiancée for one year, to be left idle in the confinement of home, war, and the engagement bond, without anything to busy her restless mind. And she was still naïve when the sexy Anatole used his irresistible charm to her. By the way, Helene and Anatole are just the same: brainless, immoral, but charming. And people often shamefully take only the charm side, but fail to see deeper than that. And they absurdly think Helene is very clever when she is actually very stupid. Oh, people!

Sorry, back to Natasha... :) I understand how she could be attracted to Anatole. But deciding to elope with him, while she knows that it is disgraceful (or, does she really realize it?), how could she agree with the idea?  I can never understand. Tempting to do one thing is normal, but deciding it after consideration? And like Princess Mary, I was a bit hurt knowing that Natasha could fall in love with Pierre just a few weeks after Andrew’s death. Did she really love Andrew, then? Not as deep as how Andrew loved her, I think… *spoiler end*

Still about Andrew, I like it most when he is philosophizing with Pierre—who becomes his best friend. Their debates are always deep in meaning, and from them I learned a lot about life and war. I believe Andrew represents Tolstoy’s own way of seeing life and war (especially war). In one of his deep conversations with Pierre Tolstoy points out that what really moves a war into its nature is not the genius strategies or the great commanders, but the army who really involve in the battle. In it, Tolstoy wants to say that war is actually a movement of humanity (until now I still don’t know what the ‘peace’ in War and Peace stands for, do you?).

There is a gap between people who (think they) control the battle course, and people who fight in the battle. The minority of generals, commanders, etc. give commands but do not involve in the battle; while the majority of the army, who must execute the commands, really fight the battle. When historians write about a particular battle, they would only read the written plans, strategies, reports from the generals and commanders, and from them draw a conclusion that this general or that commander is genius because he can create such tactics. However, in reality, the commands are rarely be executed by the army in the battle field. Just imagine, when you are in a battle, between life and death, would you really think about your boss or even your nation? Of course not, you would first think of your own life, of surviving. It’s natural, because human’s instinct is to survive.

In the chaos of a battle, generals and commanders act and give instructions based on reports, while the army act based on their instinct. When one report being delivered to the commander, it would be considered, discussed, decided, replied, then sent back to the army. But meanwhile, the course of the battle might have changed completely, and so the instruction is not up to date anymore. In short, it is very difficult to pick one hero (or culprit) of a success or a failure in war, because there are so many circumstances that intervene the course of a war. In the end, we must realize that war is moved my humanity, not by a genius mind.

The same could be applied to any other histories. There are no coincident or magnanimity in wars or other events, but only circumstances and humanity. That’s what Tolstoy had wanted to speak through this book. Unfortunately, he took pains to explain it in the second epilogue of twelve chapters! That makes the ending feels so anti-climax, whereas he actually had slipped this philosophy of war and history throughout the story. It goes well because, while he is explaining his opinion, the readers are provided with the example in the story. So, without any further essay, we have understood what he conveys very well. Closing it on the first epilogue would be much better than stretching the epilogue twelve more chapters full of repeating frowning-explanations!

For all that, I attached four and a half stars for War and Peace. I love Tolstoy writing and usage of so beautiful metaphors, but I’m disappointed in the closing. For me closing passage or lines are what echoes from the book long after I finish it. While I might have forgotten the opening, the closing is what I bring back with me to reality.


I read Wordsworth Classics paperback edition

*This book is counted as:*

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Quote (22): War and Peace

Most women believe that men only see beauty in order to love. This quote reminds you that love and beauty are related each other, but not in the way most women think….

It is not beauty that endears, it’s love that makes us see beauty.”

This came from Nicholas, one of the main male characters in War and Peace, who addressed the sentence to…err…the woman who finally became his wife—I don’t want to spoil the name :)

What do you think?

Weekend Quote is a meme hosted by by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:
  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scene on Three (4): More from War and Peace

Apparently, War and Peace still doesn’t stop to amaze me till now. It seems that every passage and every dialog is more important and more intense than the others. Prince Andrew is my most favorite character. His insight and his dialog (especially with Pierre) are always valuable. It seems that through Andrew, Tolstoy communicates his own thoughts of war, as well as of life.

This passage is taken from the night before one of the most important battles against French. Pierre was conversing with Andrew, and he asked his friend’s opinion on the tomorrow’s battle under the new appointed commander-in-chief. After having listening to another general about strategy, plans and positioning, Pierre was surprised to hear Andrew’s answer:

Success never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position. (It’s) On the feeling that is in me and in him, and in each soldier. (…) A battle is won by those who firmly resolve to win it! Why did we lose the battle at Austerlitz? The French losses were almost equal to ours, but very early we said to ourselves that we were losing the battle, and we did lose it. And we said so because we had nothing to fight for there, we wanted to get away from the battlefield as soon as we could. 'We've lost, so let us run,' and we ran. If we had not said that till the evening, heaven knows what might not have happened. But tomorrow we shan't say it! You talk about our position, the left flank weak and the right flank too extended. That's all nonsense, there's nothing of the kind.

But what awaits us tomorrow? A hundred million most diverse chances which will be decided on the instant by the fact that our men or theirs run or do not run, and that this man or that man is killed, but all that is being done at present is only play. The fact is that those men with whom you have ridden round the position not only do not help matters, but hinder. They are only concerned with their own petty interests. To them it is only a moment affording opportunities to undermine a rival and obtain an extra cross or ribbon. For me tomorrow means this: a Russian army of a hundred thousand and a French army of a hundred thousand have met to fight, and the thing is that these two hundred thousand men will fight and the side that fights more fiercely and spares itself least will win. And if you like I will tell you that whatever happens and whatever muddles those at the top may make, we shall win tomorrow's battle. Tomorrow, happen what may, we shall win!

And this is what Tolstoy believed too, and I feel that one of his reasons to write War and Piece was to tell us what historians failed to do: to reveal what really defined the course of a battle; it’s not the chief’s orders or plans, but the spirit of the whole army. War might be inflicted by one or more ambitious King(s), but in the end it is a movement of humanity.


Jadi bagaimana cara berpartisipasi dalam Scene on Three :

  • Tuliskan suatu adegan atau deskripsi pemandangan/manusia/situasi/kota dan sebagainya ke dalam suatu post.
  • Jelaskan mengapa adegan atau deskripsi itu menarik, menurut versi kalian masing-masing.
  • Jangan lupa cantumkan button Scene on Three di dalam post dengan link menuju blog Bacaan B.Zee.
  • Masukkan link post kalian ke link tools yang ada di bawah post Bacaan B.Zee, sekalian saling mengunjungi sesama peserta Scene on Three.
  • Meme ini diadakan setiap tanggal yang mengandung angka tiga, sesuai dengan ketersediaan tanggal di bulan tersebut (tanggal 3, 13, 23, 30, dan 31).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Let’s Read Plays: Check-In #3

Dear #LRP-ers… we are already in the tenth month of our yearlong event: Let’s Read Plays. Here is a quick check-in.

First of all, just to remind you, our theme this month is another comedy from the Bard. It’s been three month since we read any Shakespeare’s comedy, it’s time to a bit silly wittiness again…:) And now…

Which comedy will you choose?
I will read Twelfth Night

How was your progress until now? Have you left behind several plays, or are you ahead of the schedule?
Although I didn’t read always on schedule, I have, so far, read all the themes required. Until September, I have read ten plays (I read two tragedies for the first month).

Do you think you’d be able to read the whole themes by end of October?
I might not be able to read Twelfth Night on time, but I’ll try to squeeze it before the end of October. After that, two more plays, one of them is what I’ve been waiting for: Hamlet. So, yes, I think I’d be able to read ALL the themes, and complete thirteen plays for Let’s Read Plays. What about you? We still have two and a half months to catch up!

And don’t forget, this month’s prompt of our Play Monthly Meme by Listra is: Favorite Scene. Share your favorite scene from the comedy you’re reading, or any comedy you’ve read during LRP, remember, this is the last comedy we’d read for LRP! :)

And last but not least, when you have post your LRP, please do not forget to add it to the linky in the master post, as (pssstt!) there might be a surprise gift by Dessy sometime during these two and a half month!

Please remind me also if you have posted Character Thursday for Meme but I haven't put it in the linky here, as your posts will be entered in the giveaway at the end of LRP.

Let’s keep having fun with the plays till the end (of October)! :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

#OTR: Kitab Yesaya 1 – Nubuat Kehancuran dan Pemurnian

Ini adalah post pertama untuk proyek pribadiku: Old Testament Reading. Kitab Yesaya adalah yang pertama kupilih karena, selain merupakan kitab yang paling sering kubawakan (sebagai Lektor), juga yang paling kusukai karena keindahan puisi-puisinya.

Membaca Kitab Yesaya dari awal, membuatku sadar bahwa:

  1. Yesaya bin Amos sebenarnya adalah seorang Penasehat Raja;
  2. Nubuatnya terentang meliputi masa pemerintahan, setidaknya, empat Raja Yehuda: Uzia, Yotam, Ahas, dan Hizkia;
  3. Jika demikian, berarti ‘Yesaya’ tidaklah merupakan satu orang nabi, namun beberapa nabi yang tulisan-tulisannya disatukan menjadi satu kitab (seperti yang kukonfirmasi dari Wikipedia, Kitab Yesaya ditulis oleh tiga nabi);
  4. Tulisan ketiga nabi itu tidak dijajarkan berdasarkan urutan kronologis sejarah, namun lebih berdasarkan kesamaan tema. Misalnya: Pada bab 6, saat mengisahkan panggilannya, Yesaya sedang mengabdi Raja Uzia, sementara pada bab 7 Yesaya tengah mengabdi Raja Ahas. Maka Kitab Yesaya tak dapat dibaca sebagai sebuah kronologi sejarah bila kita akan membacanya secara berurutan.

Pada bab 1 Yesaya menyampaikan kecaman Tuhan terhadap bangsa Israel yang tidak setia dan mengalami kejatuhan moral. Saking parahnya, sampai-sampai kondisinya diibaratkan bak tubuh yang seluruhnya tanpa kecuali mengalami sakit; dan orang yang menderita seperti itu pasti ditinggalkan, ditelantarkan keluarga/sanak saudaranya.

Stanza mengenai Puteri Sion yang ditinggalkan sendirian (Yes 1:8) dengan tepat menggambarkan keadaan mereka saat itu (seperti bangsa Israel yang ditinggalkan Tuhan):

Puteri Sion tertinggal sendirian
seperti pondok di kebun anggur,
seperti gubuk di kebun mentimun
dan seperti kota yang terkepung.

Efek keterasingannya sangat terasa, terutama di baris terakhir.

Selanjutnya Tuhan menjabarkan dengan detail di mana letak kesalahan Israel; mereka yang munafik dengan mempersembahkan korban bagus-bagus kepada Tuhan, tapi berlaku tak adil pada sesamanya. Tuhan lalu mengajak mereka untuk bertobat; bila mereka berpaling dari dosa-dosa mereka, Ia akan mengampuni, dan Ia akan bersama mereka lagi.

Stanza ini adalah salah satu favoritku, dari Yes 1:18 (klik tombol 'play' untuk mendengarkan suaraku):

Sekalipun dosamu merah seperti kirmizi,
         akan menjadi putih seperti salju;
sekalipun berwarna merah seperti kain kesumba,
         akan menjadi putih seperti bulu domba

Lalu Tuhan pun mengumumkan hukuman yang akan Ia timpakan pada Yerusalem bila tak kunjung bertobat. Yesaya menutup bab 1 ini dengan sangat mantap dan menohok (Yes 1:31):

Maka yang kuat menjadi seolah-olah kapas
      dan pekerjaannya menjadi seolah-olah bunga api;
keduanya menimbulkan api
      dan tidak ada yang dapat memadamkan.

Kesannya begitu ‘final’, karena tidakkah api yang tidak dapat dipadamkan di sini dapat diartikan neraka? Membaca keseluruhan bab 1 ini terasa sangat kuat, dan alurnya benar-benar mencapai klimaks di akhir. Dari bab pertama ini saja aku sudah menangkap aura keseluruhan Kitab Yesaya ini (yang membuatku menyukainya dari dulu…).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scene on Three (3): War and Peace

I am now reading one of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpieces: War and Peace. And despite of the uncomfortable-bulk-book and the tiny fonts, War and Peace turns out to be an enjoyable story. Now I am asking myself, why have I been delaying in reading this until now? Was I afraid that the book will be boring? Not at all! I’ve been enjoying every bit since the beginning, and now am quite glad that I still have 400 pages to go, hoho!

For Scene on Three, I have picked a passage from page 110, it is when Russian troops get their first chance to meet their enemy, the French army. Being ready in their line, separated by some spaces to the enemy’s front line might be quite exciting—or frightening? What are they really thinking of? Can you imagine? Tolstoy can portray very vividly the anxiety and the feeling of the soldiers in this passage. Enjoy!

One step beyond that boundary line which resembles the line dividing the living from the dead, lies uncertainty suffering, and death. And what is there? Who is there?—there beyond that field, that tree, that roof lit up by the sun? No one knows, but one wants to know. You fear and yet long to cross that line, and know that sooner or later it must be crossed and you will have to find out what is there, just as you will inevitably have to learn what lies the other side of death. But you are strong, healthy, cheerful, and excited, and are surrounded by other such excitedly-animated and healthy men. So thinks, or at any rate feels, anyone who comes in sight of the enemy, and that feeling gives a particular glamour and glad keenness of impression of everything that takes place at such moments.”


Jadi bagaimana cara berpartisipasi dalam Scene on Three :

  • Tuliskan suatu adegan atau deskripsi pemandangan/manusia/situasi/kota dan sebagainya ke dalam suatu post.
  • Jelaskan mengapa adegan atau deskripsi itu menarik, menurut versi kalian masing-masing.
  • Jangan lupa cantumkan button Scene on Three di dalam post dengan link menuju blog Bacaan B.Zee.
  • Masukkan link post kalian ke link tools yang ada di bawah post Bacaan B.Zee, sekalian saling mengunjungi sesama peserta Scene on Three.
  • Meme ini diadakan setiap tanggal yang mengandung angka tiga, sesuai dengan ketersediaan tanggal di bulan tersebut (tanggal 3, 13, 23, 30, dan 31).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Cherry Orchard – Final Review

For Let’s Read Plays – other author theme of July, I have picked Anton Chekhov. Chekhov is actually more famous with his short stories; he is actually the father of short story writing in Europe. I have once read one of his short stories, and have caught his clear, sharp, and deep method of writing. And I thought it would be interesting to see whether his play was written in the same style. I picked The Cherry Orchard, in particular, as it is listed on my WEM self project. I have worked on the Act summaries, as well as the stage inquiries: the first and the second level.

The Cherry Orchard tells the story within the Ranevskys’ household. The famous cherry orchard itself located within the Ranevskys estate; and said to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. It might be exaggerated—as a cherry orchard should looks just as other cherry orchards—but it certainly kept the secrets and history of the family for many generations, which creates a special bound between the orchard and the residents; the cherry orchard looks beautiful because it bears many memorable events of the past. And now the Ravenskys must let their estate go, as it would be sold in an auction to pay their debts.

This play’s main conflicts lay on the cherry orchard’s sale, as each of the characters’ future would be depended on the sale. There are people who detest the idea; Lubov Andreyevna—the present owner—a widowed mother, who has been abroad for five years before finally returns to Russia. Lubov cannot think of leaving, as she would be like being cut off from her history by that. On the other hand, Lopakhin—a businessman, son of the estate’s old slave but later on was raised by the family—insists that the cherry orchard must be cut down, so that a villa can be built on it. Trofimov—a family teacher—is pleased with the idea of moving from the estate, and is excited to welcome the future together with Anya, Lubov’s daughter. While for Varya—Lubov’s adopted daughter—it would be a total ruin, as she would loose her job besides her home.

To read this play as only portraying what it performs, would be very deceiving. At first, you would think that the whole play is only the fuss around losing a family estate and moving away. But if you read between the lines, you would find Chekhov’s idea or critics on how Russians see the upcoming waves of change. At the time Chekhov wrote this, modernism was entering Russia, and the old values are struggling to survive (this play was first performed on 1904). Each character here stands for certain idea which reflects the contrast between people who are with modernism versus people who keep holding on the Old Russian values.

In the play, you’d see many incoherent dialogs or scenes within the Acts which makes the plot seems won’t go anywhere. Actually the first four Acts feels flat and overstretched, you would be asking yourself, what does Chekhov wanted to say, really? Just keep reading, because in Act Five Chekhov would change the gear, and the acceleration is suddenly increasing towards a climax. And lo! The ending would be very surprising, if not shocking. After the curtain has been down, you would sit still, struck, and couldn’t believe that the play has ended, and that ‘that’ would be the end! And then, you would reflect the whole play, of the pieces of incoherent dialogs and scenes, and suddenly, every piece would makes sense, as if the play is a huge puzzle game. By reflecting it, you would also see what Chekhov has wanted to tell you beneath the flat story. And finally, you would see the genius brain of the author who could present his ideas in this play!

Four and a half stars for The Cherry Orchard, as although I sometimes feel uncomfortable with the sudden changes in scenes or immediate incoherent interruption, the language is beautiful, and I love Chekhov’s detailed description of the background settings.


*I read ebook version from Gutenberg Project*

*This book is counted as:*

Let’s Read Plays (July) theme: Other Author

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dante’s Purgatorio – Final Review

I was struggling through this second part of The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio. Unlike Inferno—with a vivid description of Hell and some recognized figures—Purgatorio is more like an abstract image of divine actions. It is full of allegories representing many acts and symbols from Bible, that the poem is often boring and tedious.

After leaving Hell/Inferno, Dante, still with his guide Virgil, enters the Purgatorio. The setting of Purgatorio is of course different with Inferno. Dante imagined purgatory as a mountain that has many levels. At the bottom is Ante-Purgatory, then seven terraces where souls are being punished and purged. The more the mount ascend, Dante gets more spiritual growth. The mountain top is the Earthly Paradise, and after this one, Dante is purified from his sins and deserves to enter the Paradise (the third part).

We already know from Inferno that it was Beatrice who initiated this journey for Dante, and she even chose Virgil—the Roman poet—to be his guide. Now in Purgatorio, Beatrice shows herself in the middle of the journey, and even guides Dante at certain point after Virgil leaves them, near their end of journey. Another poet called Statius also accompanies Dante.

The poem itself is of course still beautiful; and this is the only aspect that kept me reading. So, if you just want to read a poem, this might be your choice. But, if you want to get what Dante talks about, you can hardly depend on the poem only. Fortunately, thanks to the digital era, there are many reading guides for these kinds of complex classics works. I was lucky to have found this site from which I learned a lot of things I would never thought about before. I think Purgatorio is more like a theological study about the Church than a poem; no wonder several people stuck on it although they can get through Inferno. Shortly, Purgatorio is a great work of poem, but needs a huge determination to finish it.

To get a better idea of the contents, you can read my summaries: Ante-PurgatoryTerrace1~2Terrace 3~5Terrace 6~7The Earthly Paradise.

Three stars for Purgatorio, and now I really hope Paradiso would be much better than this…


*I read ebook from Gutenberg Project*

*This book is counted as:*

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Cherry Orchard – Second Level Inquiry (Logic Stage)

Following my first level inquiry of WEM Project, this is the second and last one I am working on for The Cherry Orchard. My personal final thoughts would follow soon…

John Turturro plays Lopakhin and Dianne Wiest portrays Ranevskaya 
in Classic Stage Company's production of Chekhov's classic [source]

By what the play is given unity?

It’s by idea; the characters’ attachment with their past, their fear of facing the reality, and their obsession to be released from it that betrays their consciences.

What does each character stand for?

Lubov stands for the conservatives who refuse to move on from the past or from their history. They could not accept the idea that the world is changing; they just do not want to change. The cherry orchard symbolizes old Russia; Lubov represents Russian who like to hide in the comfort of their past (old Russia) rather than facing the modernism.

Trofimov stands for the liberals who are open-minded; who treat the old Russia as a history, and embrace the modern Russia as brighter future; who can objectively see the weaknesses of the old Russia and have the courage to welcome changes.

Lopakhin stands for people who want to forget their sorrowful past and cut down his root completely from history, to embrace the new wave of materialism. In the process, they might lose their consciences, and fall into moral corruption.

Do any of the characters stand in opposition to each other?

I highlighted here the contras between Lubov and Trofomov:

How do the characters speak?

Lubov: sentimental, pessimistic, full of love expression when addressing others: ‘my treasure’, ‘my dear’, etc., and often lamenting.

“My dear, my gentle, beautiful orchard! My life, my youth, my happiness, good-bye! Good-bye!”

“I’m all at sea… I may scream… or do something silly. Save me, Peter. Say something, say something.”

Trofimov: optimistic, practical, self-confident, idealistic, bit arrogant.

“Welcome, new life!”

“Even if you gave me twenty thousand I should refuse. I‘m a free man. And everything that all you people, rich and poor, value so highly and so dearly hasn’t the least influence over me; it’s like a flock of down in the wind.”

“Yes, I am a decayed gentleman, and I’m proud of it!”

Does the playwright lead you into a satisfying resolution?

I think so. Each of the characters has different destination to reach, and each symbolizes the idea they represent, and the difference is just emphasizing the irony. But the most touching is the resolution of Fiers. I think Chekhov wanted to criticize how forgetful people could be in the turbulence of changes, or maybe he wanted to emphasize that the past/old Russia has no choices other than being locked up and dying… ?

What is the play’s theme?

In a way, it’s Modernism vs Old Russia. Chekhov criticized people who were still clutching at their satisfying pasts, and refused to think positively about the inevitable modernism. Besides that, this play also tells of how people tend to remember and forget. There are people who love to stick memories of the past to their heart, and try to forget the present (Lubov), and there are people like Trofimov who are ignorant of the past, because what’s most important is the future. Lopakhin actually shares Trofimov’s idea, but with different cause. Trofimov wants to forget the past because of his ideology, while Lopakhin because of bitterness. Whatever you choose, the past would soon be dead, and replaced by the modern. The change is inevitable, just like Fiers’ tragic ending.