Essay, Research Paper: Cherry Orchard By Doll`s House

Literature: Anton Chekhov

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In the play "The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chekhov set in Mrs.
Ranevsky's estate and " A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen set in Helmers'
flat the protagonists shape the story. In both plays the protagonists' mental
beliefs combine reality and illusions that shape the plot of each respective
story. The ability of the characters to reject or accept an illusion, along with
the foolish pride that motivated their decision leads to their personal
downfall. In the Cherry Orchard, by AntonChekhov, Gayev and Miss. Ranevsky,
along with the majority of their family, refuse to believe that their estate is
close to bankruptcy. Instead of accepting the reality of their problem, they
continue to live their lives under the illusion that they are doing well
financially. The family continues with its frivolous ways until there is no
money left. One specific example of this is when the family throws an
extravagant party on the final night before the house is auctioned off laughing
in the face of impending financial ruin. Even when Lopakhin attempts to rescue
the family with ideas that could lead to some of the estate being retained, they
dismiss his ideas under the illusion that the situation is not that desperate
that they need to compromise any of their dignity. The inability on the behalf
of the family to realize the seriousness of their situation is seen in the
passage between Lopakhin, Gayev and Mrs. Ranevsky: Lopakhin: As you know, your
cherry orchards being sold to pay your debts. The Auctions on the twenty-second
of August. Here's my plan.... All you have to do is break up your cheery orchard
and the land along the river into building plots and lease them out for country
cottages. You'll have an income of at least twenty- five thousand a year. Gayev:
I'm sorry, but what utter nonsense! Mrs. Ranevsky: Cut down? My dear man, I'm
very sorry but I don't think you know what you're talking about… (249). If
they had recognized the situation they were in they might have been able to save
some of their money, or even curbed their spending. This ultimately could have
saved them from financial ruin. Unfortunately, once things got bad for them,
they refused to accept the fact that circumstances had changed, and instead
continued to live as though nothing were wrong. They adopted this illusion as a
savior of their pride, and the illusion eventually became reality for the
family. Their pride would not allow for anything else. They were too proud to
accept their social status, and financial status was in jeopardy, so they chose
to live a life of illusion. In their imaginary situation, they were going to be
fine. It is easier to believe something when you want it to be true.
Unfortunately, outside situations do not change, even if you can fool yourself
into thinking they do not exist. The illusion that they used to run their lives
became the source of their downfall. Since they grasped at their illusion so
tightly, in vain hopes that it would replace reality, they failed to deal
practically with their problem, until it got to the point where they had to.
They were forced out onto the street, and had all their material possessions
stripped from them. The most important thing they had their, status was gone. In
a "Doll's House", by Henrik Ibsen, property and status are again
destined to be lost. The illusion is twisted. At the beginning of the play, Nora
leads a life under the illusion that everything was perfect. She lives for eight
years with the knowledge that she has broken the law, and betrayed her husband.
Though it was necessary, the psychological toll it took on her and the family
was hardly worthwhile. Along with Nora's flaws, her husband was also at fault.
He could not accept what Nora had done, would not have been able to deal with
the extreme changes she had under gone. His pride would not let him accept that
he needed a woman to help; that he could not handle everything alone without the
help of another person. His self-confidence would not have been strong enough to
take that kind of blow to his ego. If she had forced her husband into handling
the situation, by having him borrow money himself, everything would have turned
out just fine. She, instead, took out the loan on her own, and did not even clue
in her husband. She tried to avoid having his pride injured by forcing him to
borrow money, even though it was necessary to save his life. From this
experience she grew. She learned about human nature, and about the value of
money, and had even learned a lesson of practicality. Instead of clueing in her
husband in about what she had, she kept quiet and left him ignorant. She lived
her life in an illusion, pretending to be the old Nora that she was, and not the
new and changed women she had developed into. She did not let the person she had
become permeate all the aspects of her life. She let the illusion of the old
Nora continue well after she had become a new person. Eventually she evolved
into a person who could not be married to Helmer anymore. Helmer: Nora, I would
gladly work for you night and day, and endure sorrow and hardships for your
sake. But no man can be expected to sacrifice his honor, even for the person he
loves. Nora: Millions of Women have done it (85). Helmer: Oh, you think and talk
like a stupid child (83). Nora: That may be. But you neither think nor talk like
a man I could share my life with … as I am now, I am no wife for you (85). If
she had continued to grow, and mature, and had accepted the kind of person she
became, then perhaps she would have gained the courage to tell her husband what
she had done. She would not have had to leave. She could have educated him
gradually Instead of immediately surrendering any hope by leaving everything she
has ever known. Nora's failure to accept to what she had really become led to
the end of her life with Helmer, and her downfall in society. In the end Helmer
downfall socially and emotionally became apparent. Throughout each of these
plays, the main characters faced a reality that they cease to accept, and
instead live in an illusion. The refusal to accept a reality or illusion led to
the characters' fall in status and/or emotional well being.
Chekhov, Anton. Five Plays " The Cherry Orchard". New York: 1980.
249-250. Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays "A Doll's House". Oxford, New
York: 1981.83-85.
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