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The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard

by Anton Chekhov

Memory and the Past Theme

Because The Cherry Orchard depicts a changing society, the characters spend a lot of time thinking about how now compares to then. How characters relate to the past determines their investment in the play's major question: will the cherry orchard be saved? As a symbol of the past of the Russian empire, the orchard evokes longing, regret, or disgust – sometimes a combination of all three. Despite the painful resistance of most characters, in the end, a cord to the past is snipped. The cherry orchard is sold, the house is shuttered, and the old servant is left to die.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Who do you think is the most sentimental and nostalgic character in the play?
  2. Varya is Lubov's adopted daughter. What is her relationship to the past and how does it differ from Anya's?
  3. Is there any character in the play unmoved by memories of the past?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Chekhov uses Fiers's senility as a tool of remembrance in the play.

How characters respond to the loss of the cherry orchard defines their dependence on, or freedom from, the weight of the past.

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