The Cherry Orchard

Anton Chekhov is a master of irony. what is the principal irony of the drama, and what does it signify

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Irony and Blindness

Irony appears in many instances throughout the play, and when it is not used for purely comic effect, it is tightly bound to the theme of blindness. On the one hand, the positions of the character's themselves are ironic. For example, the opposite circumstances of Lopakhin, Firs, and Dunyasha point out the irony in the now supposedly free-moving class system; characters talk about and praise a system of economic mobility. Still, they cannot see the contradiction in the situations of those around them that have no opportunity to improve their standing or are criticized for attempting to do so. In other cases, the play erects ironic moments, where the power in a given scene comes from a combination of two different images. For example, in Act II, Madame Ranevsky complains loudly about how she cannot control her money, while in the same breath she allows Yasha, the most untrustworthy character, to pick up her spilled purse. The fact that she is able to talk about her weakness and neglect the safety of her money in the same breath indicates that, despite her complaints, she is still blind to much of her problem.