Historical Context in The Cherry Orchard
The End of Serfdom: Tsar Alexander II abolished serfdom in 1861. Having been an economic institution for centuries, the newly freed serfs took some time to carve out a place for themselves in Russian society. Though they received some land, it generally was not enough to live on; unrest was common as was freed serfs’ “renting” land from their previous owners. Landowners, too, felt some negative consequence—they were unable to maintain their previous lifestyle after being forced to sell their lands to former serfs. Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard takes place in this period of uncertainty, where freed serfs and aristocrats are attempting to figure out their new dynamic.
Historical Context Examples in The Cherry Orchard:
"Asiatic plagues..." See in text (Act II)
"They call themselves intellectuals, but they use "thou" and "thee" to their servants, they treat the peasants like animals..." See in text (Act II)
"Emancipation..." See in text (Act II)
"[Drops the purse, scattering gold coins]..." See in text (Act II)
"I went into service when I was quite a little girl..." See in text (Act II)