Symbolism in The Cherry Orchard

Symbolism in The Cherry Orchard

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Orchid Meaning and Symbolism

June 1, 2016 | By FTD Fresh


Orchid Story & Origins

The name orchid is derived from the Greek word “orkhis”. This exotic flower was named by an ancient Greek botanist named Theophrastos who thought that the fleshy underground tubers resembled the male anatomy.

There are many types of orchids , with over 20,000 species in the world. One of the most popular orchids is the moth orchid, which got its name from the fact that their flowers were first mistaken as moths when they were first discovered by Swedish naturalist, Peter Osbeck.

Orchid Meanings

Due to their namesake, orchids are associated with fertility, virility, and sexuality. These associations, coupled with their exotic appearance, have given them a long history of being associated with love, fertility and elegance throughout various cultures and time periods.

  • One of the major orchid genera is Paphiopedilum. The name is derived from the word “Paphos” which is the name of the temple where the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, was worshiped.
  • In Ancient Greece, it was believed that parents could choose the sex of their child by eating the orchid’s tubers. If the father ate thick, fleshier tubers, the child would turn out to be a male. If the mother ate smaller, thinner tubers, the child would turn out to be a female.
  • Aztecs commonly mixed vanilla, a type of orchid, with chocolate to create an elixir that brought on power and strength.
  • During the Victorian age, orchids were only found in the tropics and were extremely rare. Therefore, Victorians would collect exotic orchids as a sign of luxury and refined taste. When given as a gift, the more rare the orchid, the deeper your love and passion was for the receiver.
  • In China, orchids are regarded as emblems of integrity, elegance and friendship.


Orchid Symbolism & Colors

Although orchids have a reputation for being symbols of fertility and elegance, different colored orchids have a diverse range of symbolisms.

  • White orchids symbolize innocence and purity, as well as elegance and reverence.
  • Pink orchids symbolize femininity, grace, and joy.
  • Yellow orchids symbolize friendship and new beginnings. They make great gifts for a friend to celebrate an accomplishment.
  • Purple orchids symbolize royalty and admiration, and are traditionally given as a sign of respect.
  • Orange orchids symbolize pride, enthusiasm, and boldness.

Orchid Cultural Significance

Confucius admired the orchid and wrote many poems regarding the exotic flower and compared them to the character of noble scholars. Orchids were the topic of many of his philosophical and literary works, and formed the basis of his moral teachings.

“The orchids grow in the woods and they let out their fragrance even if there is no one around to appreciate it. Likewise, men of noble character will not let poverty deter their will to be guided by high principles and morals.” –Confucius

Orchid Facts

  • The pink orchid is the traditional flower of a couple’s 14th and 25th wedding anniversary.
  • Orchids rely on symbiotic relationships with fungi to survive, which makes them highly adaptable to a wide variety of ecosystems.
  • Orchids have origins in every continent with the exception of Antarctica.
  • The world’s smallest orchid grows to be only 2 mm wide, and its flowers are only a single-cell thick.
  • The slipper orchid has a unique method of pollination. It lures the pollinator, an insect, into its slippery pouch. The only escape for the victim is to crawl through a very narrow crevice within the plant, forcing it to rub against the attached pollen. When the insect falls victim to another slipper orchid, cross-pollination occurs through the same process.


Orchid Uses

Orchids are known for their fragrance and are widely used in perfumes and aromatherapy. Vanilla extract, a commonly used flavor enhancer in sweets and baked goods, is actually derived from the Vanilla orchid plant.

The orchid has medicinal applications as well. In China, the orchid has been cultivated for thousands of years, and is used as a natural remedy for coughs, diseases of the kidney, lung, stomach and eye.

Orchids are also believed to be powerful aphrodisiacs, and many cultures including Greece and China eat the bulbs for this purpose.


Sources:  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |


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Symbolism in The Cherry Orchard

The play is rich with various symbols, images to intensify the meanings the play is conveying. The Cherry Orchard is a microcosm which represents entire Russian society. The orchard is very beautiful because each tree represents the soul of a serf.

Anton Chekhov(1860-1904)

Cherry orchard is a symbol of something that belongs to the past. It means it is the symbol of mobility, feudal society, aesthetic sensibility, sublime beauty, but is tragically ends with the change in the society. The cherry orchard is something that is interpreted by the various characters and reacted to in a ways that indicate how these characters feel about what the orchard represents: which is some aspect of memory. Ranevskaya thinks she sees her dead mother walking through the orchard. For her, the orchard is a personal symbol of her peaceful childhood. Trofimov, on the other hand, sees in the orchard the faces of the serfs who lived and died in slavery on Ranevskaya’s estate; for him, the orchard stands for the memory of their suffering. For Lopakhin, the orchard is intimately tied to his personal memories of a brutal childhood, as well as presenting an obstacle to the prosperity of both himself and Ranevskaya.

Symbolically, the selling of cherry orchard shows that the old order must give the way to the new. Students like Trofimov logically supports to the slave. Here, Trofimov symbolizes the utopian world where as Ranevskaya and Lopakhin represent, respectively aristocrats (past) and bourgeois (present).

There are other minor symbols that support the theme of the play. The setting sun, tombstone, long abandoned little chapel and sad sound of the guitar symbolize the decadence of aristocracy, change of Russian class system. The furnished room/ house of 1st act changes into an empty room, having no curtain in the window and no painting on the wall in the last act (IV), cutting down cherry orchard in the final act are also symbols of decline of aristocracy.

The play has symbolic ending. The family has left for Paris. Firs, 84 years old man is lying on the sofa. His motionless symbolizes the death of the aristocracy. The stage is empty. The sound of a door while being locked is heard. The sound of cutting of trees is overheard. Similarly, we see the crying of snap strings mournfully dying. All these sad notes symbolically stand for the phasing out of aristocracy.

The Cherry Orchard Study Center

Conflict of Old Aristocracy and New Mercantilism in The Cherry Orchard

Romance and Love in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard

A World in Transition in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard

Individual Choice and Social Movements in The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard Study Center

Introduction of The Cherry Orchard

Summary of The Cherry Orchard

Plot Structure in The Cherry Orchard

Social Realism in The Cherry Orchard

Lybov Andreyevna in The Cherry Orchard

Chekhov’s Style in The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard as a Tragicomedy

Tragedy of Futility in The Cherry Orchard

Biography of Anton Chekhov

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