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.