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We can read this section of the play as criticizing the capitalistic, materialist values of Lopakhin, which were spreading throughout Russian society at this time. By forgetting his personal history, Lopakhin attempts to sever his ties with his peasant past in the same way that Russian society forgets its national history in an attempt to free itself of the legacy of serfdom. But merely freeing the serfs does not free Russian society of its legacy of bondage— as Trofimov notes at the end of Act Two—this legacy has infected all Russians. Varya, a woman without money, is still in a position of powerlessness in society; she still suffers a sort of serfdom to Lopakhin. And this is the central irony of the situation; Lopakhin, the grandson of the oppressed, has now become an oppressor.

Charlotte initially seems to provide simple comic relief; but her comedy will also serve to heighten the poignancy of the loss of the orchard. She breaks the rising tension we feel out of concern for Varya and Ranevksy's well being. The sleight-of-hand tricks she performs—guessing cards, making people appear from behind a rug, ventriloquism—all emphasize illusion. Illusions, are an appropriate subject, because a central illusion is about to be unveiled. This is Ranevsky's illusion of security, her illusion that she can find refuge from the present in memories of the past.