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The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard


by Anton Chekhov


Character Analysis

Oh, Dunyasha. What a classic story, huh? Maid Runs Afoul of Dashing Young Rogue. And Yasha isn't even a nobleman – he's a servant posing as a nobleman.

Next to Yasha, Dunyasha probably has the least redeeming traits of any character in the play. She's vain, self-absorbed, and silly about romance. Before Yasha enters the picture, she's telling everyone about Epikhodov's crush on her. To the uninterested Lopakhin, she shares, "I may confess to you, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that Epikhodov has proposed to me" (1.16), and five minutes later informs exhausted Anya:

DUNYASHA. I must tell you at once, I can't bear to wait a minute.

ANYA. [Tired] Something else now ...?

DUNYASHA. The clerk, Epikhodov, proposed to me after Easter.

ANYA. Always the same. ..
. (1.32-35)

What Epikhodov doesn't have is status. Dunyasha wants hers raised. She keeps her hands white (i.e., stays away from physical labor) and does her hair like a lady, attracting a reprimand from Lopakhin. When Yasha appears – arrogant, yawning, and probably all dressed up – he seems to be an answer to her prayers. He squeezes her once, calls her cucumber (ick), and she's a goner. In Act 2, she confesses:

DUNYASHA. I'm awfully in love with you; you're educated, you can talk about everything. [Pause.]
YASHA. [Yawns] Yes
. (2.20-21)

Of course it ends in heartbreak. Lubov decides to return to Paris – pursuing her own good-for-nothing crush – and Yasha will go with her. Dunyasha hugs Yasha and cries:

DUNYASHA. [Looks in a small mirror and powders her face] Send me a letter from Paris. You know I loved you, Yasha, so much! I'm a sensitive creature, Yasha. (4.50)

Just like her mistress, Dunyasha holds on to her illusions.