The Cherry Orchard: Metaphor Analysis
Throughout his life, Chekhov demonstrated an affinity with nature, and this is apparent throughout The Cherry Orchard, which utilizes the seasons and other elements of nature to demonstrate how life constantly changes. Act I opens in springtime when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. However, frost, the enemy of flowers, remains on the ground, a foreboding image indeed. In addition, it is dawn at the beginning of the play, and we could say in this case that it is also the beginning of the end. The cherry blossoms therefore, although a positive image of nature in bloom, also foretell sadness. Act II takes place in summer in the open fields, and while this could be construed as symbolically positive, in the background can be seen a row of dark poplar trees and a road with a telegraph pole leading to a barely visible town. Nature here is being cut in two by the advance of man and technology. Soon, the cherry orchard will be cut down and villas constructed to accommodate people from town. Sunset here foretells encroaching darkness. Act III occurs in late August at a party inside the house. Lopakhin comes in from the dark outside to tell them even darker news: the cherry orchard has been sold. Elements of nature are also mentioned in Act IV, which also occurs inside the house, as the elderly servant Firs, who represents the death of the old Russia, lies dying as outside a sound from the sky can be heard "the stroke of an axe on the trees far away in the cherry orchard" (49).
In The Cherry Orchard Madame Ranevsky drops her purse and her freeloading neighbor Pishtchik also momentarily loses his purse. In the first instance, after Lopakhin attempts to convince her to sell the cherry orchard so the land can be used for villas, Madame Ranevsky ignores her advisor and drops her purse. Her servant Yasha hurries to pick up the fallen gold coins. Madame Ranevsky is unwilling to listen, or perhaps unable to hear, Lopakhin tell her the best course of action for holding on to her money is to sell her birthright, the cherry orchard. Thus, when Madame Ranevsky drops her purse immediately after, in effect she symbolically loses her money. Her ne'er-do-well servant Yasha, whom we assume makes easy with her money, hurries to pick up the gold. He will continue to help himself until there is nothing left.
The incident strongly suggests that Madame Ranevsky is incapable of holding on to her money. In addition, in Act III, after Trophimof tells Pishtchik that he could have achieved great things if he didn't have to constantly scrounge around looking for money, Pishtchik suddenly panics when he thinks he has lost his purse. In this regard, Pishtchik is very much like Madame Ranevsky: he cannot hold on to his money. In addition, it has dawned on him that when Madame Ranevsky leaves she will take another source, or indeed another purse, of his money with her.