Chekhov’s goal, however, was to show that his character was composed from heterogeneous characteristics, which made its potential quasi- strong, not ridiculously weak. The degree of strength of the character’s potential is measured by the degree of its influence on its own environment (Zubarev 6).

I can see how this quality of Chekhov’s work is found in “The Cherry Orchard.” Zubarev likes to use the term “quasi-strong,” which I interpret to mean a character could possibly strong if they tried, but isn’t strong anyway. Take Gaev, for instance. He has clear planning skills and genuine care for his family and property, which can be seen as positive, strong qualities. However, they are hampered by his tendency to let his emotions take over his common sense, and his inability to make his plans follow through. Therefore, he is neither weak nor strong, and is also not a stereotype, or “caricature,” as Zubarev would say.

Same thing with Trofimov. He is intelligent because he is well-educated, and he also longs to improve society. But because he is a “perpetual student,” he never accomplishes any of the lofty goals he sets out, and likely never will. It’s not that he isn’t trying. It’s just that he doesn’t getĀ anything done. Therefore, he is “quasi-strong.”

I also was fascinated and surprised to learn from Zubarev’s article that Chekhov named his characters specifically to match their symbolism. So, I decided to use my incredible language research skills to dig deeper into the names of “The Cherry Orchard.” (And by “incredible language research skills,” I mean I quickly looked them up in Google Translate, so they’re not going to be the most accurate and deep translations.)

Our heroine, Lyubov Ranevsky, has a name that means “Love Wounds.” Sounds fitting, right? Lopahin could possibly be taken from “lopah,” or “shovel,” since he is an ex-serf. Trofimov means “trophism,” a scientific term. Pishchik means “Picker,” and he clearly picks and chooses things to benefit him. Gayev means “gay,” probably as in happy, or possibly as in homosexual. Epikhodov means “exits,” which is funny, because any time that guy enters, something goes wrong, forcing him to exit.

Now that I know Chekhov picks specific meaningsĀ for his characters, I am less annoyed at their long Russian names. I hope Google Translate was accurate enough for these definitions, because they all make sense. A better source of linguistic research than me would clear up any confusion if you are still curious.

Source: Zubarev

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