Reality, Illusion and Foolish Pride

In the plays The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, A Doll\'s
House by Henrik Ibsen, and Galileo by Bertolt Brecht, the
protagonists\' mental beliefs combine reality and illusion that both
shape the plot of each respective story. The ability of the
characters to reject or accept an illusion, along with the foolish
pride that motivated their decision, leads to their personal downfall.

In The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, Gayev and Miss
Ranevsky, along with the majority of their family, refuse to believe
that their estate is close to bankruptcy. Instead of accepting the
reality of their problem, they continue to live their lives under the
illusion that they are doing well financially. The family continues
with its frivolous ways until there is no money left (the final night
they have in the house before it is auctioned, they throw an
extravagant party, laughing in the face of impending financial ruin)
Even when Lopakhin attempts to rescue the family with ideas that could
lead to some of the estate being retained, they dismiss his ideas
under the illusion that the situation is not so desperate that they
need to compromise any of their dignity.

Lopakhin: As you know, your cherry orchardŒs being sold to pay your
debts. The auction is on the twenty second of August. But thereıs no
need to worry, my dear. You can sleep soundly. Thereıs a way out.
Hereıs my plan. Listen carefully, please. Your estate is only about
twelve miles from town, and the railway is not very far away. Now all
you have to do is break up your cherry orchard and the land along the
river into building plots and lease them out for country cottages.
Youıll then have an income of at least twenty-five thousand a year.
Gayev: Iım sorry, but what utter nonsense!
(Later in the Dialogue)
Mrs. Ranevsky: Cut down? My dear man, Iım very sorry but I donıt
think you know what youıre talking about....
Lopakhin: If we canıt think of anything and if we canıt come to any
decision, it wonıt only be your cherry orchard, but your whole estate
that will be sold at auction on the twenty-second of August. Make up
your mind. I tell you there is no other way. (Page 621-622)²


This inability on the behalf of the family to realize the
seriousness of their situation is due to their refusal to accept
reality. If they had recognized the situation they were in, and
dealt with it, (they may have been able to save some of their money,
or even curbed their spending) they could have saved themselves.
Unfortunately, once things got bad for them financially, they refused
to accept that fact that circumezces had changed, and instead
continued to live as though nothing were wrong.

They adopted this illusion as a savior of their pride, and the
illusion eventually became reality for the family. Their pride
wouldnıt allow for anything else. They were too proud to accept that
their social status, and financial status was in jeopardy, so they
chose to live a life of illusion. In their imaginary situation, they
were going to be fine. It is easier to believe something when you
really want it to be true. Unfortunately, outside situations don\'t
change, even if you can fool yourself into thinking they don\'t exist.


The illusion that they used to run their lives became the
source of their downfall. Since they grasped at their illusion so
tightly, in vain hopes that it would replace reality, they failed to
deal practically with their problem, until it got to the point where
they had to. They were kicked out onto the street, and had all of
their material things taken from them. The most important thing they
had -- their status -- was gone.

In A Doll\'s House, by Henrik Ibsen, property and status are
again destined to be lost. The illusion is twisted. At the beginning
of the play, Nora leads a life under the illusion that everything was
perfect. She lives for eight years with the knowledge that she has
broken the law, and betrayed her husband. Though it was necessary,
the psychological toll it took on her and the family was hardly
worthwhile.