Character of Mrs. Ranevsky (Lyubov) in “The Cherry Orchard”
Mrs. Ranevsky is major character of this play. She has been sketched very minutely by Anton Chekhov. Chekhov’s characterization is worth mentioning. The play is comedy of actions, as mentioned by the writer; actions are performed by the characters, therefore, minute characterization was required to complete the purpose of this play. Many writers have been known due to their unique technique of characterization. Anton Chekhov although is not famous due to art of characterization yet in this play he has focused on minuteness of characters. He symbolically present them on the stage, therefore, his characters have deep meanings; they require attention of the audience. Every character of the play gives a message in hidden meanings. Symbolically, they are very important. Their importance depends on their respective symbols. “The Cherry Orchard” has very less characters but every character has his own importance in the play. Audience finds no unnecessary character in the play. Due to superb and minute characterization, the play has remained delightful in every era.
Mrs. Ranevsky also called Lyubov is the protagonist of “The Cherry Orchard”; whole story of the play revolves around her. She is an aristocratic lady, who has many ambitions in her life. She is the representative of whole aristocratic class of Russia. Through this major character, Anton Chekhov has presented the downfall of feudalism; therefore, her actions are considerable. She has been warned with her arrival that her property is going to be auctioned but she seems a foolish lady, who does not help her family; she does not save her estate. In fact, she does not struggle to save it. Her weakness is her pride on her so-called class. Lopakhin tells her to cut down the cherry trees so that she will be able to save money, which will help her to save her property but she foolishly rejects his idea while saying that cherry orchard is the most important thing in whole Russia. She considers cherry orchard as a symbol of aristocracy. She could have saved her property if she would have accepted Lopakhin’s idea of cutting down the trees. She feels pride on her class, due to which her property is auctioned.
She is an irresponsible lady. She knows that her property is going to be auctioned yet she enjoys parties, lavish lunches and dinners and gives charity to homeless persons. She also lends money to her neighbor called Boris Simeonov Pischik. She does not know her responsibility. Her financial situation is very miserable yet she does not give up her aristocratic lifestyle. She does not even think to save money for her estate. She has many choices to save her estate but she does not adopt any of them. She is reckless. Her negligence is the main reason behind her downfall. Her character reveals the inconsistency of aristocratic class in Russia. She has been deceived by her lover. She leaves Russia in order to forget the death of her husband and son and then returns to save her estate but does not do so. Her past reveals that when she was away from Russia she has created more difficulties for her. She is a stupid lady.
“The Cherry Orchard” portrays the social climate in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, when the aristocrats and landowning gentry were losing their wealth and revealed themselves to be incapable of coping with their change in status. Lyubov’s character also reveals the same. She resists change. She does not like it. She is a symbol of resistance to change. Through this character, the writer has shown that one must accept change as it is the law of nature. She should know that Russia has been changed, therefore, she should also go with the flow. Russia has been revolutionized yet people like Lyubov have not accepted it. Her resistance to cut down the cherry orchard is actually a symbol that she herself does not want to change nor does she want change in the country. But at the end, it seems that change has been forcibly applied to her. She must accept it in any case. She focuses on the past. She spends most of her time in memories; those memories in which she and her family were proud of Russia. She cannot forget those days, in which cherry orchard was momentousness of Russia.
At the end of play, audience witnesses her miserable condition. Her estate has been sold and she has to live a miserable life. Her life may be good for many people but for her it is miserable. In her whole life she has enjoyed the luxuries of life, therefore, a sudden reversal in fortune is not bearable. But there is no denial the fact that she herself is responsible for her miserable condition. She has not taken the idea of Lopakhin seriously. She has rejected it without knowing the consequences of rejection. Thus, no other but she herself has lost the opportunity to save her estate.
Anton Chekhov has put Lyubov in juxtaposition with Lopakhin. There is much dissimilarity in these characters. In fact, they are entirely different from each other; there is difference in their thinking; they belong to different classes; Lopakhin has openheartedly accepted change, whereas Lyubov has shown resistance. Lopakhin is a responsible person; Lyubov is irresponsible; Lopakhin is wise, whereas Lyubov is stupid.
At last but not the least, Lyubov is a major character of the play. Whole play is dependent on her. There are some flaws in her characters. Most important flaw of her character is that she is stupid. It is evident from her past; when she was away from Russia, her lover has left her for another woman; she has given her whole money to him. Moreover, she has not even tried once to save her estate from auction. Most importantly, she is the representative of every landowning gentry. Thus, Lyubov’s character is universal so far as revolution in Russia is concerned. “The Cherry Orchard” is not the story of Ranevsky family only but the story of every aristocratic family in Russia. Hence, Lyubov’s character has universal appeal.