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The Cherry Orchard is pessimistic in its analysis of social transition.

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AZX300 20th Century Literature: Texts & Debates TMA 01 Melissa K M Newton U474758X 'The Cherry Orchard is pessimistic in its analysis of social transition.' Debate this statement in relation to the performance of the servants' roles in at least TWO scenes from the play. Anton Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard as a comedy, yet it has a duality with tragic elements as well. The Cherry Orchard is pessimistic in its analysis of social transition. This can be seen in the performance of the servants' roles. [H1] During the time Chekhov wrote the play, Russia itself was undergoing a social and political change. This change set in motion the rise of the middle class after the abolition of serfdom in the mid-nineteenth century which was a threat to the old aristocracy. Therefore, Chekhov's play, The Cherry Orchard, symbolises this change and how it views social transition in a pessimistic perspective. [H2] Act I of The Cherry Orchard, which is set in Russia, opens in the early hours on a cold May morning. The setting is in an old nursery but the audience also is aware that the cherry trees are in bloom with their white flowers. ...read more.


To take advantage of this, Lopakhin states that the solution is, "the cherry orchard and the land by the river be broken up into building lots and are then leased off for villas" (Chekhov, 9). [H9]Both Gaev and Madame Ranevsky look down upon Lopakhin's suggestion as being "absurd" and put more importancet on the cherry orchard than what is actually worth, despite their financial predicament. Now, Chekhov created Lopakhin to reflect Russia at the current time - "what use is a cherry orchard that no longer produces cherries, or a political system that privileges those who have a childish attitude to money" (Brown and Gupta, 36). [H10]Lopakhin cannot understand the reaction of Gaev and Madame Ranevsky and soon leaves when he is insulted by Gaev. In Act II, it shows Lopakhin again discussing his suggestion for Madame Ranevsky's situation: "I say the same thing every day. Both the cherry orchard and the land must be leased off for villas and at once, immediately" (Chekhov, 21). This statement is met, again, by outrage by both Madame Ranevsky and Gaev: "It's so vulgar" (Chehkov, 21). Even when Lopakhin starts to leave, Madame Ranevsky stops him since it is "nicer" when he is there. ...read more.


You could have used the debate from Aestheticism &Modernism regarding comedy and tragedy to explain more fully different interpretations of the play. Your close analysis of particular scenes could have been used to show how different performances might emphasise the comic or the tragic (for example, with Firs at the end). This would have allowed you to focus on the question of interpretation - the TMA does ask you to consider performance of the play, rather than to make general points about the text. You could have discussed Eyre's interpretation of the play and considered how different performance choices could have presented a different reading of the play. The course materials also referred to different interpretations of the play at different points in Russian history - using them would have helped you to discuss how interpretive terms like pessimistic might mean different things to different audiences in different historical contexts. For the next TMA you should work on producing this kind of focus in your writing, which will allow you to engage more critically with course debates and build on the understanding you already have. If you can refer to course materials and use them in your argument it will help you to achieve the kind of analysis expected at this level. ...read more.

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