Symbolism in The Cherry Orchard

The play is rich with various symbols, images to intensify the meanings the play is conveying. The Cherry Orchard is a microcosm which represents entire Russian society. The orchard is very beautiful because each tree represents the soul of a serf.

Anton Chekhov(1860-1904)

Cherry orchard is a symbol of something that belongs to the past. It means it is the symbol of mobility, feudal society, aesthetic sensibility, sublime beauty, but is tragically ends with the change in the society. The cherry orchard is something that is interpreted by the various characters and reacted to in a ways that indicate how these characters feel about what the orchard represents: which is some aspect of memory. Ranevskaya thinks she sees her dead mother walking through the orchard. For her, the orchard is a personal symbol of her peaceful childhood. Trofimov, on the other hand, sees in the orchard the faces of the serfs who lived and died in slavery on Ranevskaya's estate; for him, the orchard stands for the memory of their suffering. For Lopakhin, the orchard is intimately tied to his personal memories of a brutal childhood, as well as presenting an obstacle to the prosperity of both himself and Ranevskaya.

Symbolically, the selling of cherry orchard shows that the old order must give the way to the new. Students like Trofimov logically supports to the slave. Here, Trofimov symbolizes the utopian world where as Ranevskaya and Lopakhin represent, respectively aristocrats (past) and bourgeois (present).

There are other minor symbols that support the theme of the play. The setting sun, tombstone, long abandoned little chapel and sad sound of the guitar symbolize the decadence of aristocracy, change of Russian class system. The furnished room/ house of 1st act changes into an empty room, having no curtain in the window and no painting on the wall in the last act (IV), cutting down cherry orchard in the final act are also symbols of decline of aristocracy.

The play has symbolic ending. The family has left for Paris. Firs, 84 years old man is lying on the sofa. His motionless symbolizes the death of the aristocracy. The stage is empty. The sound of a door while being locked is heard. The sound of cutting of trees is overheard. Similarly, we see the crying of snap strings mournfully dying. All these sad notes symbolically stand for the phasing out of aristocracy.

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