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The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard


by Anton Chekhov


Character Analysis

Charlotta really doesn't fit in. She cultivates eccentricity, traveling with a little dog and doing magic tricks so relentlessly that Anya complains. She is a single governess who teasingly resists any man's attempt to flirt with her:

LOPAKHIN. Excuse me, Charlotta Ivanovna, I haven't said "How do you do" to you yet. [Tries to kiss her hand.]

CHARLOTTA. [Takes her hand away] If you let people kiss your hand, then they'll want your elbow, then your shoulder, and then..
. (1.143-144)

She is an orphan. Her parents were traveling performers, and when they died, a German lady took care of her. Charlotta is unconventional and bohemian. While she doesn't share much stage time with Trofimov, she seems to live some of his ideals: she is "free as the wind (1.151)" and nationless; she might agree that "all Russia is our orchard. The world is great and beautiful, there are many marvelous places in it" (2.149).

Chekhov gives her long speech a place of prominence, the opening of Act 2.

CHARLOTTA. And where I came from and who I am, I don't know. ... Who my parents were--perhaps they weren't married--I don't know. [Takes a cucumber out of her pocket and eats] I don't know anything. [Pause] I do want to talk, but I haven't anybody to talk to ... I haven't anybody at all. (2.1)

Charlotta has no parents, no home, no strong identification with the past – none of the associations that make giving up the orchard so excruciating for Lubov. Yet Charlotta is just as unfulfilled, if not more so. She's lonely. She doesn't have anyone or anything to love. Perhaps Chekhov presents Charlotta as the counterexample to Lubov, to remind us that having no attachments may not be ideal, either.