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 orchard?s being sold to pay your

debts. The auction is on the twenty second of August. But there?s no

need to worry, my dear. You can sleep soundly. There?s a way out.

Here?s 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.

You?ll then have an income of at least twenty-five thousand a year.

Gayev: I?m sorry, but what utter nonsense!

(Later in the Dialogue)

Mrs. Ranevsky: Cut down? My dear man, I?m very sorry but I don?t

think you know what you?re talking about....

Lopakhin: If we can?t think of anything and if we can?t come to any

decision, it won?t 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)?

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

wouldn?t 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


Along with Nora?s flaws, her husband was also at fault. He

couldn?t accept what Nora had done, and wouldn?t have been able