Analysis Pages

Allusion in The Cherry Orchard

Allusion Examples in The Cherry Orchard:

Act II

2

"Oh, feel me, get thee to a nunnery...."   (Act II)

Here and in Lopakhin’s next line, the original Russian uses the word “Охмелия,” which the translator has transcribed as “Oh, feel me.” This is incorrect. The word Охмелия is an older spelling of the name “Ophelia.” This makes this line and the following allusions to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

"Oh, feel me, nymph, remember me in thine orisons...."   (Act II)

An orison is an archaic term for a prayer. This line once again alludes to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, paraphrasing Hamlet’s line spoken to Ophelia: “Nymph, in thy orisons / Be all my sins remember’d.” This repeated reference to Hamlet, and in particular to the character of Ophelia, forces audiences to consider themes of madness and insanity. In Chekhov's play, various characters also display some elements of “madness,” alongside the significant absurdist elements of the play itself.

" "The Magdalen" by Tolstoy. ..."   (Act III)

The poem the Station-Master reads is “The Sinful Woman” by Aleksey Tolstoy, not to be confused with the novelist Leo Tolstoy. The poem’s “sinful woman” provides a deliberate pointed parallel to Madame Ranevsky, who has cheated on her husband and lived a life of extravagance and excess. Much like the woman of Tolstoy’s poem, Ranevsky’s lifestyle has now led her to the brink of disaster.

"the ancient stock of the Simeonov-Pischins was descended from that identical horse that Caligula made a senator... ..."   (Act III)

Caligula was the third Roman Emperor who lived from 12–41 CE. He famously loved his horse, Incitatus, so much, that he appointed him to his consul. Pischin uses this historical reference here to connect back to his phrase “I’ve got the strength of a horse.” Pischin comments that his father often joked that his family is so strong because they are descended from Caligula’s beloved horse.

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