February 4, 2013 – DRAMA LECTURE
Chekhov usually considered amongst one of the biggest Russian writers. He was born
under pretty modest means and spent a lot of time trying to fit in with the nobles (like
Tolstoi). Chekhov gives us reticence and hesitation in his characters, and a series of
attitudes rather than moods in his plays.
Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry of the Orchard: “The Drama of the Undramatic”
We started the first lecture by asking if Hedda Gabler was really real or not.
Do the characters change in this play? How does it play out in relationship to the cherry
Many of the characters in the play are told what to do throughout the play. They enter the
play with high hopes, but it is doubtful that their hopes will ever be realized. They see
that they have not changed during the play and will not be able to.
They don’t quite fit in the world around them, they are helpless rather than helpful. They
are victims of more powerful forces.
Characters cannot face the fact that they are all human. They ask of others to be things
that they cannot be. But there is no real change in the play.
These characters have a vision of an altered world. They will not change, but there
illusions of power inspire them to go on. Nature (cherry orchard) denies sympathy to the
characters. Nature is hostile. Time is also hostile -> characters are always working
against time. Do we have a sense of how the play is going to end? Do we know they will
lose the home and the cherry orchard? There is a disconnect between the mother’s
generosity and her ability to sustain a house.
The farce of the play is an indication how life constantly mocks people. The characters
have trouble with things -> china falls to the floor, people receive blows to the head.
There is physical and verbal farce. Some are verbally challenged. In what way do
characters say something about who they are?
Act 3 = both comedic and tragic moment of the play. What is happening in act 3? How
does it start out, what is the basic premise of this? In this act there is a party (both the
dance and auction -> estate is being auctioned off). How do we read this juxtaposition?
There is dramatic irony. It represents the fact that they don’t want to deal with reality,
they are in denial about what is going on. They are losing their home but they are having
a party at the same time.
Characters are denying that this is actually happening; they think that maybe it won’t.
Look at both primary and secondary figures in the play. There are moments of success for
the secondary characters, but not for the primary characters. There is an upward mobility
of the lower or secondary classes. We are also meant to understand that it is difficult for
the upper class to lose their home (it is the only class they have ever known). Who do we
support in the play? The family that is losing its home?
Characters are very stuck within their trajectory.
Chekhov: Attended a class