The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov draws in a universal audience, as the play’s themes and characters are relatable to any time period. The characters face challenges and anxieties that were felt by people thousands of years ago and will continue to be felt by people far into the future. The Cherry Orchard encompasses and embodies characters and themes that are relevant to modern times such as social change, mid-life regrets, and hope that the next generation will go out into the world, make a difference, and create a better and more prosperous life for themselves.
Social change raced through Russia during this play, as “mankind is advancing, perfecting its powers.” (Chekhov 116) After feudalist Russia collapsed, members of the lower class became more motivated to increase their social standing. (Complex) Although it was a time of great joy and hope for the peasantry in Russia, this time period, roughly 1861-1917, was full of uncertainty. Russian peasants did not know how the government would support and defend their ability to grow higher in society. The Cherry Orchard reflects Russian peasants’ fears regarding these social changes. Lopakhin is the paragon (12) of a Russian peasant who rose from the ranks of peasantry to a successful businessman. (Simple) He notes, “I’m rich, plenty of money, but if you think it over and work it out, once a peasant, always a peasant.” (Chekhov 70-71), as he reminisces about his upbringing in the lower class. This way of thinking speaks for all the peasants in this time of social change; even if a peasant moved up in social standing, he or she would not forget or bury their past. Lopakhin remarks that at one time “my
father was your [Lyubov] grandfather’s serf”, (Chekhov 85) which shows how much Russia evolved since his father’s day. At one time, Lopakhin’s ancestors were subject to Lyubov’s ancestors’ rules, but now Lyubov is dependent upon Lopakhin to sell the cherry orchard and help Lyubov regain her squandered fortune. (Compound-Complex) The rapid social change in Russia, depicted in The Cherry Orchard, is relevant to modern times because society is always changing and adapting to the ever-changing world. The idea that anyone that can rise up in social standing with hard work and perseverance has not changed from 19th century Russia and remains relevant to readers today.
Mid-life regrets faced many of the adult characters in The Cherry Orchard, similar to many “mid-life crises” that middle-aged adults face in the modern age. Charlotta Ivanova, an ex-governess, serves as a prime...