The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov: Introduction

Anton Chekhov was one of the famous Russian writers renowned for his short stories and plays. The Cherry Orchard was his last play, produced by the famous Moscow Art Theatre shortly before his death in 1904. He thinks of people with a mixture of affection and ridicule, this side of him in The Cherry Orchard, which depicts an aristocratic Russian family that loses their ancestral estate because they can't pay the mortgage.

Anton Chekhov(1860-1904)

He steadfastly called the play The Cherry Orchard a comedy. The playwright's intention is to put the play into the genre of comedy. If the play is taken as a comedy it would be a mark of justice to the play's mode of social realism. The play is popular for its mode of social realism. It represents the social reality when the late 19th and the early twentieth century Russian society was moving towards the direction of the transformation. In this transitional period of Russian society the Old Russian aristocracy was painfully giving to the triumphant emergence of the middle class. The lower-class people were rapidly struggling to climb on a higher rung on the ladder of the Russian society.

The cherry Orchard captures this mode of social realism. The pleasingly painful and painfully pleasing reality regarding transitional reality has reigned sovereign in the heart of the play. In point of fact, this play aims at celebrating the emergence of the social realism. But, by the same token, it does not hesitate to extend sympathy for the old aristocratic class which was dying out. The rise of the peasant class, the working class and the middle-class was a historical necessity of Russia. Such a historic-social change deserves support from every reader who is alert. That is why we all have to enter into the consensus that The cherry Orchard is a comedy. To call it a comedy is equal to standing in support for the depiction of an emerging social realism.

However, there are some readers who are dissatisfied with this mode of generic categorization of The Cherry Orchard. They, on the contrary, prefer to call it a tragedy. This line of generic categorization is also worthwhile. According to those, who prefer to call it a tragedy, the play's main concern is to mourn over the excruciatingly painful loss of Madame Ranevskaya's cherry Orchard. Instead of singing the triumphant emergence of the middle class, the play subtly tends to make an artistic lamentation of the torturous disappearance of the old aristocracy. There is reasonable ground to categorize the play as a tragedy.

It seems the play blends both the tragic and the comic component. It is partly tragic and partly comic. From one angle it rings tragic. From another it sounds comic. Considering this dual nature of the play it is apt and appropriate to call it a tragicomedy. If this is done, the play happens to belong to the new genre of tragicomedy.

To sum up, the play, no matter which sub-genre, it belongs to, is not only a photograph of the late 19th and the earth 20th century's transitional society of Russia. To the in-depth satisfaction of the readers, the play is a painting of the transitional Russian society in the early 20th century.

The Cherry Orchard Study Center

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