The Cherry Orchard
by Anton Chekhov
Trofimov the Revolutionary
When Trofimov speaks, it's hard not hear the voice of Chekhov. He talks about work: "everything that is unattainable now will some day be near at hand and comprehensible, but we must work" (2.105). He's concerned with human health: "the vast majority of us…live like savages, fighting and cursing at the slightest opportunity, eating filthily, sleeping in the dirt, in stuffiness, with fleas, stinks, smells, moral filth" (2.105). He's idealistic: "My soul is always my own; every minute of the day and the night it is filled with unspeakable presentiments. I know that happiness is coming, Anya, I see it already" (2.153). He is the revolutionary obsessed with the future, while those around him are trapped in the past. Anya is his follower, and he makes her understand the wider sociopolitical impact of her family's history:
Think, Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather, and all your ancestors were serf-owners, they owned living souls; and now, doesn't something human look at you from every cherry in the orchard, every leaf and every stalk? (2.149)
As an outsider, Trofimov brings an objective viewpoint to the situation. He doesn't side with Lubov or Lopakhin when it comes to the cherry orchard. When asked what he thinks of Lopakhin, Trofimov replies:
TROFIMOV. I think, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that you're a rich man, and you'll soon be a millionaire. Just as the wild beast which eats everything it finds is needed for changes to take place in matter, so you are needed too. (2.95)
Trofimov likes the businessman, despite his materialism, and engages Lopakhin as an equal (which is more than Lubov and Gaev do).
Trofimov the Eternal Student
Trofimov is intelligent and impassioned, but he's also immature. There's a reason Chekhov calls him the Eternal Student. He's judgmental and unforgiving, and Lubov blames it on his youth:
You boldly look forward, isn't it because you cannot foresee or expect anything terrible, because so far life has been hidden from your young eyes? You are bolder, more honest, deeper than we are, but think only, be just a little magnanimous, and have mercy on me. (3.65)
Trofimov lacks real world experience and lacks Lubov's emotional intelligence, her power to empathize with others' pain. His pigheadedness earns him some ridicule. After Lubov's scathing assessment at the party (her only moment of open cruelty) he falls down the stairs.