Places: The Cherry Orchard

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1904 as Vishnyovy sad (English translation, 1908)

First produced: 1904

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Impressionistic realism

Time of work: Early twentieth century

Places DiscussedRanevsky estate

Ranevsky Cherry Orchard, Theestate. Madame Ranevsky’s estate is located somewhere in the provinces of central Russia. Three acts of the play take place in her large house. Act 1 is set in what was once the nursery, a large, high-ceilinged room which has become an informal meeting place. The second act is set in a field not far from the house, near an old chapel. The third act reveals the true opulence of the house: Its drawing room with a chandelier is in the foreground, and dancing couples can be seen in the ballroom through arches at the rear. Act 4 returns to the nursery, now stripped of its decorations and ready to be vacated by Madame Ranevsky and her family. Madame Ranevsky’s world is doomed by economic and social forces usually identified with offstage places. A station is nearby, from which characters go to Russian cities like Kharkov and Moscow. Madame Ranevsky’s problems are made acute by her irresponsibilities with both men and money, both of which are associated with Paris.

Cherry orchard

Cherry orchard. The most important part of the setting of three of these acts is the visible symbol of the fragile and doomed beauty of Madame Ranevsky’s world, the cherry orchard itself. It is revealed in all its blooming spring beauty through the large, tall windows in act 1. In the next act, it is visible at the edge of the field. It can be seen again in the desolation of act 4, denuded now of its blossoms because it is October.

BibliographyBarricelli, Jean Pierre, ed. Chekhov’s Great Plays: A Critical Anthology. New York: New York University Press, 1981. Seventeen essays that cover Chekhov’s dramatic art and the individual plays. The essays on The Cherry Orchard include the editor’s “Counterpoint of the Snapping String: Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard” and Francis Fergusson’s “The Cherry Orchard: A Theater-Poem of the Suffering of Change.”Magarshak, David. Chekhov the Dramatist. New York: Hill and Wang, 1960. A thorough discussion of such topics as plays of direct action, transitions, and plays of indirect action, using Chekhov’s development as a dramatist as the context.Peace, Richard. Chekhov: A Study of the Four Major Plays. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983. A solid study of Uncle Vanya (1897), Three Sisters (1901), The Seagull (1896), and The Cherry Orchard. Excellent for basic information and knowledge about the plays.Pitcher, Harvey. The Chekhov Plays: A New Interpretation. New York: Harper & Row, 1973. Offers bold new interpretations and nonstandard views, which make this study a valuable contribution to the understanding of Chekhov’s plays. The chapter on The Cherry Orchard is particularly illuminating.Valency, Maurice. The Breaking String: The Plays of Anton Chekhov. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1966. One of the best treatments of Chekhov’s plays. Valency analyzes Chekhov’s approach to theater, and individually discusses all the plays, including The Cherry Orchard.
Categories: Places