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The Search For Truth In Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard And Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

1267 words - 5 pages

The scholar is engaged in the interminable quest for truth. The knowledge that one can never understand everything makes a person wise. Ignorance is the assumption that one can understand all about the world around them. An ignorant person is so confident they comprehend the truth, that they are blind to the greater truth. Anton Chekhov and Sophocles deal with the idea of this sinful pride that leads to ignorance in their respective works, The Cherry Orchard and Oedipus Rex. In each drama, certain characters are slapped in the face with the truth; the light is revealed. However, these characters make the connection when it is too late. Their destruction is already destined to become a reality, a horrid fate that could have been prevented. Both Chekhov and Sophocles present the universal theme that an open mind, constantly in search for truth, is the mark of a worthy individual, and prideful stubbornness can only lead to demise.

The question must then be asked, what truths are evident in these texts? Oedipus is the proud king of a county called Thebes. However, his country has fallen on hard times as a result of angry gods displaying their wrath. The oracle reveals to Oedipus that the curse shall be lifted when the murderer of the former king is put to justice. As the incriminating evidence piles up against Oedipus, he remains ignorant of the truth that he is the killer whom he seeks. He stubbornly refuses to believe that he cannot escape his fate. Sophocles presents this ironic truth in light and dark imagery. The chorus dramatically demands, “Artemis, Huntress, / Race with flaring lights upon our mountains / […] Whirl upon Death, that all the Undying hate! / Come with blinding torches, come in joy!” (Sophocles l.198-204). The metaphor depicts light representing truth. The idea of light being “blinding” portrays how shocking and unexpected this truth will be to Oedipus. The timing of the chorus’ plea as Oedipus enters the stage clearly demonstrates that Oedipus is the man whom he seeks, the murderer of the king. The truth of the play is revealed, yet Oedipus remains ignorant.

Chekhov also makes use of a symbol to represent truth in his play. In The Cherry Orchard, the Ranevskayas are an aristocratic family that squander away their final days at their beloved cherry orchard. It shall soon be auctioned off, yet the family merely sits about and engages in meaningless chatter. They assume that everything shall be taken care of, the way it always has been in their lives. However, there is one man who seems to be above the careless atmosphere that surrounds him—Lopakhin, the hard-working son of generations of peasants. This man of great ambition represents truth. The truth that Chekhov reveals in the play is the emerging changes in the Russian social structure. The industrious middle class is on the rise, and the lazy aristocracy is doomed to fade away. In the end, Lopakhin buys the cherry orchard, which is the “estate where [his] father and...

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