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Contrasting Economic Value Systems in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard

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Introduction

World Literature Paper Two (Key Passage Analysis) Contrasting Economic Value Systems in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard Simoiu Camelia Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Dover Thrift Editions, Act II, page 20-21 LOPAKHIN. Deriganof, the millionaire, wants to buy your property. They say he'll come to the auction himself. MADAME RANEVSKY. How did you hear? LOPAKHIN. I was told so in town. GAYEF. Our aunt in Yaroslav has promised to send us something; but I don't know when, or how much LOPAKHIN. How much will she send? Ten thousand pounds? Twenty thousand pounds? MADAME RANEVSKY. Oh, come... A thousand or fifteen hundred at the most. LOPAKHIN. Excuse me, but in all my life I never met anybody so frivolous as you too, so crazy and unbusinesslike! I tell you in plain Russian your property is going to be sold and you don't seem to understand what I say. MADAME RANEVSKY. Well, what are we to do? Tell us what you want us to do. LOPAKHIN. Don't I tell you every day? Every day I say the same thing over and over again. You must lease off the cherry orchard and the rest of the estate for villas; you must do it at once, this very moment; the auction will be on you in two twos! Try and understand. Once you make up your mind there are to be villas, you can get all the money you want, and you're saved. MADAME RANEVSKY. Villas and villa residents, oh, please... it's so vulgar! GAYEF. I quite agree with you. LOPAKHIN. I shall either cry, or scream, or faint. I can't stand it! You'll be the death of me. [To GAYEF.] You're an old woman! GAYEF. Who's that? LOPAKHIN. You're an old woman! [Going] MADAME RANEVSKY. [frightened] No, don't go. Stay here, there's a dear! Perhaps we shall think of some way. LOPAKHIN. What's the good of thinking! ...read more.

Middle

I can't stand it! You'll be the death of me..."7. His reaction suggests that he is also implicated emotionally in Madame Ranevsky and Gayef's difficulty and cares deeply about the future of the estate. His suggestion represents a valid compromise given the situation, in contrast to selling the property to the millionaire, which would most likely result in the complete loss and destruction of something that is wrought with so much meaning for all of them. As shown above, the dialogue between the decaying aristocratic family and Lopakhin, the wealthy former serf, illustrates many of the important social issues at work in the play. The problem facing the Ranevskys is characteristic of the large majority of the former landed-gentry, clearly illustrating their inability to adapt to their changing society. Left without the stability of the former economic system, many were unable to cope with the changing reality and became impoverished. The lack of correspondence between Gayef and Madame Ranevsky (symbolically representing the former land-owning class) and Lopakhin (epitomizing the entrepreneur, a self-made man) is indicative of the socio-economic impact caused by the growing entrepreneur-driven commercialism. A century ago, Chekhov realized that the choice between an unproductive but still beautiful and renowned cherry orchard, and tawdry if profitable real estate development was not easy. The change between the former economic value system and the new, profit driven commercialism presented a fundamental conflict of values for many, and continues to be all the more meaningful for today's audience. Word Count: 1 555 The landed gentry class - symbolically represented by the Ranevskys - is crumble being replaced by the active, self-made merchants - embodied by Lopakhin, who will transform the cherry orchard into commercial property later on in the play. He was showing life as he saw it during the social and philosophical milieu of his day. Principles of analyzing a passage 1. Offer a thesis or topic sentence indicating a basic observation or assertion about the text or passage. ...read more.

Conclusion

Recognizing the potential of the estate's riverside property now made easily accessible to the nearby town's growing population by that great symbol of modern industrialization, the railroad, Lopakhin sets out a comprehensive plan of real estate development that should solve the gentry's fiscal problems for decades. This "perfect" solution meets with disdain and incomprehension. The gentry cannot adapt to these new economic forces and may well not really understand them. On the other hand, one must also remember that Lopakhin's so-called solution entails the destruction of exactly what the gentry wanted to save: the cherry orchard, the last powerful symbol of a value system not based on bottom-line economies. But before one joins Lopakhin in dismissing these outmoded values and their "feckless" proponents, one should note that the cherry orchard won the region a place in the Encyclopedia and that Lopakhin's obsession with profit distracts him from what seems an optimal match with Varya and even leads him to begin cutting down the orchard before its previous owners have left. A century ago, Chekhov knew that the choice between even an unproductive but still beautiful and renowned cherry orchard and tawdry if profitable real estate development was not simple. With the full-scale triumph of the "bottom liners" today, how much more meaningful is his humanist portrayal of this fundamental conflict of values for the present-day audience. On the other hand, one must also remember that Lopakhin's so-called solution entails the destruction of exactly what the gentry wanted to save: the cherry orchard, the last powerful symbol of a value system not based on bottom-line economies. 1 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 20, lines 40-41 2 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 20, lines 22-23 3 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 20, line 32 4 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 21, lines 6-71 5 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 20, lines 28-31 6 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 22, line 8 7 Chekhov, Anton, The Cherry Orchard, Act II, page 22, lines 2-3 ...read more.

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