Symbolism in "The Cherry Orchard"

A Symbol of Change
      Symbolism has played a vital role throughout history and in literature, and continues to do so today, as well as tomorrow. The Russian author Anton Chekhov makes excellent use of symbolism in his play, The Cherry Orchard, published in 1903. This play uses the powerful symbol of a cherry orchard, generations old, to symbolize the concept of change and human progress, common visions humankind shared at the turn of the century.
      Near the beginning of the play, the owners of an estate and cherry orchard in Russia return after having spent five years abroad in Paris. Upon their arrival, they begin to reminisce over everything, the nursery, the cherry orchard, a hundred year old cabinet, etc.. As things progress, it becomes known that the owners, members of the landed gentry, no longer have enough money to maintain their estate, so they intend to auction it off in order to pay off their debts. The peasant Lopahin suggests rather that auctioning off the entire estate, the orchard could be cut down to build summer cottages that could be leased. The owners, particularly Mme. Ranevskaya, opposed the idea, even though the cherry orchard was bringing in no profits. Lopahin asks once again the following day, but is ignored. The student Trofimov discusses philosophy with Mme. Ranevskaya, and tells every one of his dreams about humankind’s progress. A ballroom dance is held on the estate the day of the auction, and near the end, Lopahin returns and announces his purchase of the estate, and plans for building summer cottages. The play ends with everyone leaving. Amidst the confusion, however, the old manservant, Firs, is left behind and locked inside the house, where he dies while the cherry orchard is being cut down.
      The cherry orchard plays a vital symbolic role throughout the play, as it is a symbol of change and human progress. Chekhov makes it very clear that Russia is changing. How each of the characters react and interact with the...