Despite his love of the estate, the future is far better and far more promising than the Russia of the previous era.
Another tragic feature of Ranevskayas character that makes her uniquely modern is that she knows her flaws. She admits that she squanders money, while Oedipus seems unaware of his arrogance until the very end of the play. Chekhovs subtlety as a playwright is that he knows that people can do the wrong thing, know that they are doing wrong, and still act against their best interests in a foolish fashion. Hence, unlike the ancient Greek tragedy of circumstance, Chekovs play is a tragedy of character. The people around Ranevskaya, including her daughter as well as Lopakhin, seem powerless to stop the woman in her path to folly, but Ranevskaya also seems powerless to stop herself, even though she is an apparently intelligent, if prodigal woman.
One recent review of a production of the Cherry Orchard stated: “Much of the pleasure of this vibrantly acted tale of missed opportunitiescomes from the funny, forlorn spectacle of displaced people trying to pretend theyre perfectly at home” (Brantley 2009:1).
In Oedipus Rex as well, the characters are home, yet not at home — Oedipus regards himself as a stranger, even though he is actually in the place of his birth. However, Ranevskaya feels that she is at home, even though she should understand that unless she acts, she is swiftly about to be displaced by the new order of Lopakhin, whose power rests in money, not ancient history. The Greek tragedy ends with an image of a man who, despite all of his best efforts to avoid committing a crime, is condemned by the gods to suffer; the modern tragicomedy depicts a woman who ignores all practical offers of aid. Oedipus hubris manifests itself primarily in his desire to resist the pressures of external circumstances like fate; Ranevskayas character is so fatally flawed she seems almost to embrace her financial demise. [THESIS RESTATEMENT].
Brantley, Ben. “All alone in a crowded country home.” The New York Times. January 16, 2009.
[February 5, 2011] http://theater.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/theater/reviews/16orch.html.