“The Cherry Orchard” is the last work written by the famous Russian writer Anton Pavlovich Chekov. This play written in 1902 tells the story about the destruction of the Russian aristocratic society at the given time. A family portrayed in this play is at the edge of a financial meltdown, living the last moments of its former glory. Adjusted to the wealthy lifestyle, they lost all of their money and kept on living without any knowledge, talent or experience on how to survive. After the death of the head of this family, they started sinking down, without knowing or doing anything in order to prevent the fall.
Adjusted to the wealthy lifestyle, they lost all of their money and kept on living without any knowledge, talent or experience on how to survive. After the death of the head of this family, they started sinking down, without knowing or doing anything in order to prevent the fall.
Soon they were forced to sell the last thing that kept on connecting them with their aristocratic life- the old estate with cherry orchard. The story begins in spring while the orchard is in full bloom and in its best appearance. As the time passes by, a disorder in the family rises until they are forced to move out of their own home. Removal takes place in fall, symbolically displaying the time of the year when the cherry orchard is left with naked branches, empty and probably looking the worst.
This play is full of various characters who are responsible for making this story so peculiar, for example, the shy widower who spent all of her money on her lover, aware of the arriving poverty, yet incapable for getting rid the old habits of spending above her possibilities. Her daughters try to get by in this new era, aware of the fact only hard work pays off.
We also get to meet a completely lazy student who knows this phase of his life won’t last long and the nouveau-riches who used to be poor but now became rich in this new era where it has been allowed, for the first time in the Russian history, for the members of a lower social class to provide their way of going up the social and economic scale by earning the money.
At the first glance appearing as energetic characters, in reality, they are all helpless and incapable weak, even the ones described as the strongest and boldest while taking actions. The plot is realized through dialogues. Even the inner trades of the characters become visible in the conversations and their clarity while verbalizing their feelings, avoiding any sort of action.
Although this play is considered as a drama, it is easy to notice the comedian elements, especially in the humor between the characters who are contrasting their energy with their inefficiency. Also, the elements of drama blend together with the elements of comedy, proofing remarkable Checkov’s talent for writing theatrical pieces.
Genre: A four-act play
Place: Russia, the manor of Lyubov Andrejevna Ranievska
Time: the beginning of the 20th century
The story takes place at the estate of L.A. Ranievska on an early May morning. Lopahin was sent to wait for her at a Parisian train station after she spent the last five years abroad, so he took her daughter Anja and her governess Charlotte Ivanovna with him. As he fell asleep waiting for the train running late, Dunjasha woke him up so he tells her about how Lyubov Andreeva is kind and a good person.
Dunjasha was telling him about her feeling weak with her hands shaking, as Epihodov appears at the doors with the flowers sent by the gardener. He commented the coldness of the morning and the climate not suitable for him and got waved off by Lopahin so he leaves, consisting that he is a magnet for troubles.
Dunjasha tells to Lopahin her opinion about Epihodov, describing him as a calm, yet sometimes not possible of understanding. Although he was being unhappy because of everyday events, Dunjasha likes him.Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Lyubov Andreeva and Anja. As the two carriages arrived in front of the house, Firs rushes to greet them. When the ladies stepped inside, they walk down the hall to the nursery,as Lyubov Andreeva was rethinking about her youth spent in that very same room.
Dunjasa hurried to make a coffee ordered by Varja for Lyubov Andreeva, as she explains Piotr Sergeyevich why she arrived just three days before. Delighted by their arrival, she also explains to Anja that she still has to travel accompanied by her governess Charlotte because of her young age. Then Anja describes her impressions of Paris where was cold and snow. Her French was poor, and her mother was living on the fifth floor, surrounded by various types of people- a priest carrying a book, ladies, some French men and the house was filled with smoke and uncomfortable. She also told about how Ljubov Andrejevna selling the summer house by Mentone, but still has no money as she covered all the bills in Paris for herself and her servant Jasha as well. Varja interrupts Anja’s story by telling her this estate will also be enlisted for sale in August. Varja ordered that Petja shouldn’t be around when that happens, and Anja speaks of warning the mother as well.
Six years ago Anja’s father passed away, followed by her little brother Grisha’s getting drowned in the river only a month after. Grisha was a good, seven-years-old boy. Their mother couldn’t bare the pain so she left without looking back. Earlier mentioned Petja Tramfimov was Grisha’s former tutor. Lopahin returns and starts to apologize for being absent from the train station, yet he comes to see them before his journey to Harkov. Before he leaves, he tells Lyubov Andreeva how the cherry orchard will be enlisted for sale at 22nd August as an attempt for covering debts. His plan was to divide the estate into smaller particles suitable for renting as a vacation spot, due to them being connected by the rail and the river Volga as well.
Gajev wasn’t agreeing with that plan, and Lyubov Andreeva was unable for understanding this idea. Lopahin explained to her that the cherry orchard and the cherries get their offspring only once in two years. Also, they don’t have any buyers for the cherries left as the old trade of making the cherry products has been abandoned.
Varja enters the room carrying two telegraphs for Ljubov Andrejevna who tears them without reading. Lopahin warns her to rethink his idea, and he will get the loan. Despite him not wanting to take this trip, he promises to return in three weeks. Trafimov shows wearing an old officer’s uniform, despite the order he was given to wait the next morning before he appears in front of Lyubov Andreeva. The landlord Pishchik asks his two hundred and forty roubles as interest on a given loan. Lyubov Andreeva replies him that Gajev will pay the interest rate as Gajev tells his sister still spends too much. He proposes for them to contact a wealthy cousin Jaroslava, who married non-aristocratic, yet wealthy attorney.
He also informs them about his visit to the county court where he found out there is a possibility for getting a bond-related loan for covering the bank’s interest fees. He will get once again to the bank just in case, and Lyubov Andreeva has to talk with Lapahin who surely won’t refuse her. Anja will get in touch with the cousin Jaroslava, and they will save the estate with acting from the three different sides. Gajev calmed Anja and Varja who both went to sleep.
Charlotte starts talking about her identity crisis, as she was raised by a German lady after the death of her parents. She becomes a governess, still uncertain about her own identity. Epihodov again laments about his bad fate, wondering about where from the spider who he found at his chest arrived. Jasha speaks of Epihodov’s stupidity, yawning for the entire time. Inspired by this conversations, Dunjasha speaks a bit about herself.
She was given to one lady while she was a child and she lost the touch with the common life, becoming sensitive, gentle, noble and fearing everything. She confesses Jasha she loves him and asks of him to remain loyal and true. Jasha explains her only spoilt girls are capable of loving someone.
Lopahin enters their conversation asking again for their approval for giving the land for the building of the summer houses. Gajev, Lyubov Andreeva, and Lapahin tell their opinions simultaneously, then Lopahin adds the information about the intention of a wealthy man Djeraginov to personally attend the auction and buys the entire property.
Lyubov Andreeva and Gajev were making fun of Lopahin’s idea, driving him mad and eager to leave. Lyubov Andreeva decides to confess her sons about spending large amounts of money and marrying a man who was only producing debts. Her husband died because of the champagne, and when her little boy drowned in the river she decided to go abroad.
She bought a summer house by Menton where her new lover got ill so she spent more money taking care of him for three years. After getting in debts, she was forced on selling her summer house and moving to Paris where her lover robbed her and left for another woman. She tried poisoning herself, and after failed attempt decided to return to Russia.
Lyubov Andreeva recommends Lopahin to marry Varja as she is a good hardworking girl madly in love with him. Gajev got offered a position in the bank for the salary of six thousand roubles per year. Firs, who brought Gajev’s coat, became a victim of their comments about his old age. Lopahin accuses Trafimov of his laziness and attending college for almost a decade.
Trafimov defends himself by telling that all of them are drones, expecting to live without working. All that’s good origins from work and Lopahin defends himself as well by telling them he gets up at five every day and works from morning until evening, handling the money all the time. They remained sitting in silence until they heard a strange sound from somewhere in the sky. Lapahin guesses the sound could be from the broken windlass somewhere nearby, and Firs tells he heard exact the same sound at the evening the serfdom got abolished. Trafimov noticed an unknown person coming.
The passenger asked about the way to the train station and begged Lyubov Andreeva for thirty copecks as he was hungry. Lyubov Andreeva didn’t have any silver by her side so she gave him a gold coin, which made Varja mad. She makes Lyubov Andreeva realize how stupid she is while giving away the gold at the time they can’t afford themselves a decent meal for their household.
Everyone except Anja and Trafimov leaves for dinner. The couple was thankful the passenger for chasing the Varja away so they could be left alone for a while, as Varja was following them for the whole time. Anja asks Trafimov why did he lose his love for the orchard, and Trafimov describes Russia as their garden. Their ancestors were taking care of that garden, as they only live now at someone’s else’s expense, without any possessions left. Anja admired his beautiful explanation and they decide to take a walk in the direction of the river.
As Jewish orchestra plays in a salon, Pishchik talks about his wish for dancing, yet being too old for such pleasures as he already had stroke twice. He adds a remark about him being healthy as a horse despite those strokes, so Trofimov agrees there is something horse-like in him. Pischick decides to take Trofimov’s comment as a compliment, as the horse being considered as the noble animal.
Varja appears and Tromifov starts flirting with her. She calls him a molt gentleman, and he replies that he is proud of his molting. Varja comments the orchestra present, wondering where from will they get paid. Trofimov commented she could earn a huge amount of money just from the money she spent on paying the interest fees. Lyubov Andreeva comments as well that they organized the ball at the wrong time, considering their lack of money.
Lyubov Andreeva got impatient about asking when will Leonida return from the town with the news about how the auction of the estate went. She talks about how she heard that the cousin Jaroslava offered some money, but not enough even for covering the debts.
Trofimov starts teasing Varja she will become Lopahin’s wife so she gets mad, but her mother advises her to make her own decision. Varja explains she would like to marry him as he is a good person, but she is not in the position to propose him. He is the one who is working and getting richer so he probably has no time for thinking about her.
Varja leaves and Lyubov Andreeva laments about how she should be sold together with the orchard as spent her entire life on this estate. Trofimov tries on cheering her up and she tells him he is like her own son and she is willing to give him Anja’s hand in marriage if he would finally finish his education and got some job. While she was taking the handkerchief out of her pocket,a telegraph falls out of her purse.
She tells Trofimov that the telegraph is from her lover who asks help from her because he got ill again, and Trofimov accuses him of using her kindness. Lyubov Andreeva then accuses Trofimov of not knowing the strength of love despite being old enough to know better. Trofinov was deeply offended while Lyubov Andreeva tried to apologize. Anja appears, excited about the news she heard in the kitchen about orchard being sold. Lyubov Andreeva sends Jasha to investigate the origin of the information, but he only manages to find out that the person who said that already left.
In the meanwhile, Varja got in a fight with Epihodovin and tries to chase him out of the salon, accidentally hitting Lopahin with the stick. They apologize to each other and then Lyubov Andreeva comes, asking Lopahin where is Leonida. He informs her about them being late for catching the train so they will wait for another one to arrive.
Lyubov Andreeva asked him about the orchard, and he replies he bought the estate himself. Lyubov Andreeva got ill from excitement, and Varja protested with throwing the keys in front of Lopahin. Lopahin tells to himself he is the owner of the orchard now, still amazed with the fact how the semi-educated man as himself managed to accomplish such a thing. Lyubov Andreeva cries and Anja tries calming her down.
The fourth act
The salon is empty, with only a couple of things left for moving. Lopahin stands with a glass of champagne while Lyubov Andrejevna and Gajev enter after they said goodbye to the peasants. Lyubov Andreeva is pale and poor looking. Lopahin offers them with champagne before their journey, but they refuse. He informs them to hurry up if they want to catch the train.
Trofimov searches for his boots and declines Lopahin’s offer of covering his travel expenses. Lopahin tells him about how much money he made by planting poppies, and Trofimov replies him that his father was a peasant, while his was a pharmacist. Anja begs Lopahin not to destroy the garden after they leave. Dunjasha cries in front of Jasha because he leaves for Paris, telling him she always loved him and that she is a fragile woman.
Lyubov Andreeva cries as she leaves the house while her daughter is happy for being able to start over. They say goodbye to each other, and Anja tries to comfort Lyubov Andreeva by telling her they will be apart for only a short time until she finishes her school so she can be capable to work and provide for the both of them. Until that time come, Lyubov Andreeva should live from the money of her mother who is living in Paris. Lyubov Andreeva admits she sleeps easier now when the estate being sold. She encourages Lopahin in proposing Varja who agrees with that idea. Varja enters the room searching for something and Lopahin asks her about her future plans. She replies him that she found a job at the Rogulin’s estate. He finds some apology and leaves a room, so Varja starts crying. Everyone hurried in leaving one at the time, departing from each other.
Lyubov Andreeva admits she sleeps easier now when the estate being sold. She encourages Lopahin in proposing Varja who agrees with that idea. Varja enters the room searching for something and Lopahin asks her about her future plans. She replies him that she found a job at the Rogulin’s estate. He finds some apology and leaves a room, so Varja starts crying. Everyone hurried in leaving one at the time, departing from each other.
Characters: Lyubov Andreeva, Anja, Varja, Lopahin, Trafimov, Charlotte, Dunjasha, Jasha, Gajev
The owner of the estate that needs to be sold in order for family becoming able for returning their debts as they could continue living their lives. She suffered a lot through her life with the death of her husband who was an alcoholic; then her son drowned as well. When she finally finds some love in another man, he lost his health so she had to take care of him over a couple of years, as he left her as soon he restored his health.
She was used to living the life in luxury and she can’t give up of spending the money. She gives away her money without thinking about it , completely unaware of her mistakes until the others warn her. She leaves her home hardly, noticing the beauty and the wealth that was surrounding her entire life. She finds happiness in her daughters.
Lopahin got rich by cultivating and selling the poppy. His father was a peasant, so he refers himself as a peasant as well. He is not ashamed of his origin, he is actually quite proud of his accomplishments from such a low starting point, as he was able to raise at the level of a gentleman.
He even succeeds at purchasing the estate that was owned by his former aristocratic employers. He also got the chance for marrying the daughter of his former employers, but he decides to skip that opportunity without any valid reason at all.
Lyubov Andreeva’s step-daughter, a bit harsh and cold but very intelligent and needy for love. She wants to marry Lopuhin, but he has not proposed her so she becomes aware that he probably never will.
As she refuses to be the one to propose she remains disappointed and leaves for a job at the other manor, working in the sector of economics.
Anton Pavlovich Chekov Biography
Anton Pavlovich Chekov, born at 1860 in Taganrog, Russia. After finishing the high school at his hometown, he applies for studying medicine at the University. He married the actress O. L. Knipperova. Checkov begins to write while he was still a student. Except writing plays, he wrote short stories and tales, collaborating with the great opera directors. Checkov had an extreme influence on the development of the modern literature.
As well as being known as the great dramaturg, he was also the establisher of anti-theater and psychological drama. His most famous works are “Three sisters”, “The Seagull”, “Uncle Vanja”, “About love”, “Fiance” etc.
He also wrote a brief humoresque about alienated people who got out shaped by the reality. The plots of his stories are simple, without great heroes or actions. He was writing dramas based on one-act plays, lengthening them more as he approached his writing maturity.
Chekov dies in a sanatory of Badenweiler in 1904.