“We don’t see things as they are.
We see them as we are. ” This quoteby Anais Nin expresses an essential point of view for this discussion about thesymbolic meaning of inanimate objects, since it is our personality and ourmemories, which determine our character and meaning. Our feelings towardscertain objects are individual, as everyone associates different things in adifferent manner. Insofar, “we see them as we are”, since they canmirror our past, pains, hopes and our ideals. Thus they become more than just anobject, but a symbol for a certain part of someone’s feelings and life.Order now
This isalso the case in “The Cherry Orchard”: objects as the nursery room,the bookcase and the cherry orchard take on their own symbolic life. They allshare one thing in common: each one reveals something of the characters’personalities, feelings and ideals. These inanimate objects are a reflection ofthe characters’ inner states of being. The meaning of these inanimate objectsare changing analogously with the characters’ change of mood, perspective andstate of mind. Thus one gets the impression that the objects are more likepersons, since it is only the characters’ life, which makes and keeps themalive. The nursery room may be for an outstanding person without any implicitsignificance, but for Lopakhin and Liuba it is a symbol for their childhood,background and past.
The nursery room reminds Lopakhin of his origins. It makeshim aware that he is “just a peasent” (p. 334); no matter how rich hehas become or how elegant he might be dressed, his social background stillremains visible for other people. After all, one “can’t make a silk purseout of a sow’s ear”(p. 334), as his origins will be for good a part of hisidentity.
For Liuba the nursery room symbolizes her “innocentchildhood” (p. 347). Being in this room, in which “she used to sleepwhen she was little” (p. 336) seems to bring her back to feel a part of thatsecure, carefree life and makes her feel “little again”(p. 336).
Thebookcase has the same effect on her; all her troubles seem to be far away andshe feels pure “happiness” (p. 342). Gayevs’ ‘relationship’ to thebookcase is less personal, as he doesn’t associate a particular personal memorywith it. He considers it rather as an object, which has its own personality;hence, though it is “an inanimate object, true, but still ? a bookcase(p. 345)”! The way he sees it is reminiscent of a hero, as it has foralready hundred years “devoted itself to the highest ideals of goodness andjustice” (p.
345) and has never deceived anyone. Being constantly andunshakably true to its ‘principles’, it was a source, from which “severalgenerations of their family”(p. 345) have drawn courage and hope “in abetter future”(p. 345).
In the course of time a lot of things have changed:some people are dead, Gayev and Liuba got adolescent, and the estate is probablygoing to be sold. However, the bookcase not being subject to any rules orchanges, thus becomes for Gayev a symbol of consistency and security. Thecentral symbol of “The Cherry Orchard”, as the title might suggest, isthe cherry orchard itself. The cherry orchard does not only represent aninanimate object, but it is the center of the characters’ world. Their livescould be divided into the era “before the cherry orchard was sold”(p. 301) and into the era after it.
With this change the symbolic meaning of thecherry orchard before and after the sale also changes. The cherry orchard’before the sale’ plays a part in each of the characters’ past; but it seemsforemost to be part of Liuba’s mind, through which the cherry orchard takes onhis own symbolic life, as its symbolic meaning changes with the changes in hermind. She “can’t conceive to live without the cherry orchard” (p. 375),as almost her whole past and memories are connected to it. Looking at it seemsto revive the memories of her “happy childhood” (p. 347) and makes timestand still, as if “nothing has changed”(p.
347) in her life. In thosedays her attitude towards life was innocent and “bold” (p. 375), as shewasn’t yet “able to foresee or expect anything dreadful”(p. 375).
Shefelt like the cherry orchard, “after the dark, stormy autumn and the coldwinter, young and joyous again” (p. 347); but now, she seems to havelost this “power of vision” (p. 375) and her naive view of life. That’smight be the reason for her to see the cherry orchard in such an illusory light. It had become a refugee place, where she hides to escape from reality, her”problems” (p.
375) and “sins” (p. 359). The cherry orchardfor her embodies a kind of paradise, into which her ‘unhappy past’ does notenter, but only her ‘happy past’. She doesn’t want to let go the cherry orchard,because she doesn’t want to let go her ‘happy past’. As long as the cherryorchard exists, her childhood feelings seem to continue to still exist for real. To sale the cherry orchard would mean to erase that beloved part of her life andthus sell her (p.
347), too. However, the irony is that she escapes from her’unhappy past’ to a place just like the cherry orchard, which magic only livesthrough the past itself. In as much as the cherry orchard represents a kind of’Garden Eden’ for her, it at the same time also is a “burden” (p. 348),which rests on her shoulders. As long as she continues to stick to the orchard,she won’t “forget her past” (p. 349) and won’t thus be able to create anew future.
“To begin to live in the present, one must first atone for hispast and be finished with it” (p. 368). Unlike t Liuba, her daughter, Ania,already reached that conclusion and is willing to “leave” (p. 368) thisburden behind her; her “love” (p.
367) for the cherry orchard hasvanished, as it is part of her past life and has therefore nothing to do anylonger with her present and future. ‘The cherry orchard after the sale’ thusbecomes a symbol for renewal and a new beginning for the life of each characterin the play: Lopakhin purchasing the estate got able to get rid of his origins. “Gay with life and wealth” (p. 344), he has freed himself from beingonly the grandson and son of serfs, who used to work on this estate. Now he hasbecome the owner of that place and with the cutting down of the cherry orchard,he is going to leave his past and origins behind him, creating a “newliving world” (p. 384).
Also Liuba’s “burden” (p. 348) of the pastseems now to have become lighter; “her nerves are better” (p. 391) andshe is going to leave for Paris, since she might have recognized that it’sfinished long ago that there is no turning back”(p. 375). Gayev hasfinally “calmed down” (p. 391), too and is going to be an employee of abank.
Varia is going to leave for a new job, and Ania and Trofimov are gladlystepping towards their “new life” (p. 391). Also the rest of thecharacters have to start a new life in a new place. When they leave therewon’t be a soul in this place” (p. 397) anymore. Maybe not in this place,that’s true, but for sure in another place, since there are in the world”many, many wonderful places” (p.
367/368), on which one can”plant a new orchard” (p. 385).