Comparison Of School For Wives And Cherry Orchard English Literature Essay

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The eagerness to "get to the end" always nips the readers mind; this very attitude portrays the immense importance of any finishing act. This "conclusion" is always the most intense and nail biting part of any book, regardless of its genre, be it a love story where one almost starts eating oneself to find out if "she actually said yes" or an adventure where one goes into a flip-page frenzy to find out whether "he could hang on to the cliff".

The reason that I have chosen to analyze and compare the finishing acts of two very prominent works lies in the fact that, I have always been one of those impatient readers. But after studying literary works of great writers, I have learnt that the final act involves a great amount of thinking. The way in which the story is moulded and woven out to simplify all the happenings is not an easy task and upon scrutinizing this last section of any work, the reader can find a lot of interesting ideas and literary devices thrown their way to add to all the glory of the authors writing style.

The finishing act should never be treated as a mere end -of-story, but as that section of the book which binds together all the action, summarizes the intricate plot, and concludes with whatever fate the author has decided for each one of his/her characters.

Just as any other play, the concluding acts of The Cherry Orchard and The School for Wives evoke the above traits yet moulded in its own way to grasp the attention of the audience right till the end, also giving the play a sense of finality.

The School for Wives, is a theatrical comedy written by the famous 17th century French playwright Moliere and is considered to be the best work of his career. To put it briefly, The School for Wives talks about a man who is so intimidated by feminity that he resolves to marry his young and naive ward, making clumsy advances to the same.

The Cherry Orchard, the second book we will be analysing, is a tragic comedy by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Though Chekhov anticipated this play to be a comedy, which explains the materials and elements of charade and farce; however, Stanislavski, the director of its first staged performance, insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to assert with the twin personality of this work.

The play revolves around an upper-class Russian woman and her patrician family and talks about their return to the family's estate to pay a heavy mortgage, for which the estate, which includes a celebrated and renowned Cherry orchard, has to be auctioned. It explores how the woman's family does utterly nothing, even after being offered multiple alternatives, concluding the play with the property getting bought by the son of an ex-serf (household servant).

The final acts of both these great works have a wide range of parallels, resemblances that are drawn out of normal life situations, as well as an equal amount of contrasts. The most striking distinction, though, is that of the finale. The Cherry Orchard has a very heart-rending and tragic end, though the play, as a whole was meant to be a comedy, the final act curtains with the apparent demise of the very loyal and trusted servant Firs, it closes on a very melancholic note with the serf lying abandoned and forgotten on the family couch. His finishing words being; "Locked. They've gone. They forgot me...........Life's slipped by just as I'd never lived at all. I'll lie down a bit. You've got no strength left, got nothing left, nothing at all. You're just a - nincompoop." [1] The playwright Moliere uses ambiguousness to conclude the play, as he does not mention whether or not, Firs is dead, leaving only screenplay for his audience to decide.

The School for Wives, on the other hand, is a classic example of a theatrical comedy, where the end is always a blissful beginning for the newlywed protagonists (Horace and Agnes, in this case) and a sad turn of events for the antagonist's (Arnolphe's) "close to succeeding" scheme. The final act, very well completed by Moliere, shows how a clichéd romantic comedy should curtain; this act diverges greatly from Chekov's tragic ending; instead, Moliere profoundly leaves the audience with a joyous and festive mood. Moliere wittily closes the play on the famous lines of Chrysalde that say; "Since he's looked after her, let's recompense our friend, and thank the lord that things came out right, in the end." [2] Here we find out a complete contrast to The Cherry Orchard, as this play leaves not just the couple but also the foiled Arnolphe, remunerated. This finish serves a simple and straightforward purpose - to end the play.

One correspondence though, in both plays, is that of the twist in the plot in the final act, or the sudden turn of events that effect to astonish the audience. Both plays follow a straightforward story line where the playwrights allow the spectators to assume a conclusion, but the ultimate disclosure, in both final acts, operates to function as an astonishing revelation, grabbing the viewers' attention towards the end.

In The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov, throughout the play, keeps referring to the auction of the estate, reassuring the spectators as to some remedy to obtain the money required for the mortgage. But in a sudden climax, the final act reveals that the orchard is bought by Lopakhin, a former serf, who with the new era has developed to establish his position in the newly formed middle class. The words, "I bought it; I bid ninety thousand roubles plus the arrears. And I got it. And now the cherry orchard is mine. Mine!" [3] , show the joy and bliss of the serf upon fully realising that he has just bought estate, which, according to the old serf order, could only sound as a distant dream. More importantly however, is the effect these lines have on the audience, the spectators who very simply expect the travellers to return with Gayev's money, a sum of fifteen thousand roubles, are taken aback when they find out that Lopakhin, himself, bought the cherry orchard off the very family he would serve for.

The School for Wives serves a very similar purpose in its final act, the twist here is the fact that Horace is to marry Enrique's daughter, which turns out to be Agnès, for whom Horace has trusted, befriended and been betrayed by Arnolphe, who has his own plans to marry his own ward. When this startling revelation is cast, all of Arnolphe's plots are washed down the drain, leaving him dejected and a failure. This climax is brought about by the words;

"But if that's to be done, we need the girl. Has nobody informed you that The girl in question lives with you, and that, in fact, She is the daughter of the charming Angelique, Who had a secret marriage to Sir Enrique?" [4] 

These lines cast an astonishing exposure of identity, the effect that it has is that both the audience and some of the characters are equally surprised and appalled , this sudden turn of events helps to completely twist the story around to work for the couple in love, which accounts for the play's joyous and comic ending.

Both these plays, as clearly depicted in all the above examples, have a very intricate, but interesting storyline, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to pleasing audiences. The similarities in both these great works of their own eras show that though these theatrical masterpieces are separated by over two centuries of human progression, developing ideas and technology, human forms of writing will always have a common development of the mysterious nook called "the playwright's mind". The dissimilarities though, prove that although this common development is very evident through even centuries, different authors have their own writing styles and interpretations of the society and the world as a whole, which is clearly reflected in their respective works.