Chekhov's Style in The Cherry Orchard

Chekhov's style is direct, simple and effective. The description of Lyubov Andreyevna's arrival from Paris goes like this "Two carriages are heard driving up to the house. Lopakhin and Dunysha go out quickly. The stage is empty, there is a hubbub in the adjoining rooms ....."

Anton Chekhov(1860-1904)

The following part of dialogue makes it clear how direct and effective is Chekhov's style.

"Varya (stands at the door of Anya's room): you know. Darling all day long I'm busy looking after the house, but I keep dreaming. If we could marry you to a rich man I'd be at peace I could go into a hermitage ..."

Sentences in the dialogue of his characters are short and exactly like sentences spoken in day-to-day conversation.

He makes a successful use of the device of subtext. The subtext is a device in which the surface of the dialogue seems innocent or meandering, but deeper meanings are implied. Madame Ranevskaya musings about her childhood in act 1 of The Cherry Orchard contrast with the purposeful dialogue of Lopakhin. Her long speeches in act III talking about the "Millstone" she loves in Paris have also meanings, but they reveal an idealistic character doomed to suffer at the hands of a new generation of realists who have no time for her ramblings and sentimentalism.

Chekhov's style in The Cherry Orchard is characterized by his conscious choice of the symbolic setting in the second act. The setting of the second act is a decaying shrine located on Lyubov's estate; the setting is symbolically significant. Just like the Shrine, the Old Russian class system is in a state of decay.

Chekhov has employed a somewhat symbolic style of making characters guess at the meaning of an echoing sound heard at a distance at the serene moment when characters gather to talk. When Lopakhin, Old valet, Trofimov, Lyubov Andreyevna and Gayev were sitting together in a relaxed mood, a shrilling sound occurs in a far distance. All characters try to interpret that sound in a distance. According to the old valet Firs, it is a symbol of disturbance. Firs is reminded of what happened during the Emancipation. He told that samovar had hissed when the emancipation was introduced. Trofimov also takes this sound as a sign of something unusual. Lyubov Andreyevna was afraid that something painful and ominous is going to happen. Lophakhin was not interested in all this nonsense. This style of pushing characters to interpret a seemingly ominous sign just before a crucial change is a somewhat unique style of Chekhov.

In the last analysis, it is true to say that Chekhov's style is as forceful as life, as direct as conversation, as simple as a common man can use and as lucid as tranquil water. It is a beautiful example of Chekhovian style: the mixture of comedy and tragedy, a form that avoids melodrama by setting the most exciting events offstage, and the detailed characterization that makes Chekhov an actor's dream.

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