5 min read ⌚
The past imprisons us and setting ourselves free from it can help us move on with life.
But, what does that mean for our personal identity? If one has no past, who is he?
Who Should Read “The Cherry Orchard” and Why?
“The Cherry Orchard” is a classic – they teach it in schools as the school example of good storytelling. The use of characters to paint a picture of society is masterfully done.
As always, Chekhov keeps the language simple and lets the complex traits of human character shine through.
We recommend it to all aspiring writers, actors, and people who enjoy reading dramas.
To all the rest, we recommend seeing the actual play when it is on repertoire at your local theaters.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Biography
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a doctor with a passion for the written word.
He is considered as one of the best short-fiction writers of all times. He is widely known as the father of the short story, and his writings has played a large role in shaping modernism.
“The Cherry Orchard” is a play set in Russia. It begins on an early May morning when flowers are blooming even though the weather outside is cold.
The center of the story is the family of one estate owner, Renevsky, who this very morning is visited by Lopakhin.
Ranevsky is coming back from Paris, where he has been for the past five years, bringing his daughter Anya with him, her governess Charlotte, and Yasha, a young servant who is accompanying her whenever she travels.
On the station, she is greeted by her brother Leonid Gayev, an old manservant called Firs, and her adopted daughter Varya.
They come back with him to the estate.
Ranevsky is happy to be home, and his daughter Anya starts telling her daughter how Paris was – she was surprised by the poverty in which her mother lived, and her bad spending habits.
To that, her daughter Varya reveals to her that the family estate, the house with the cherry orchard, will be sold at an auction because of their mounting debts.
Lopakhin also brings up the issue of the auction, and proposes a good solution, according to him; he tells Ranevsky to divide the land into parcels, build cottages on them and lease them to people who want to hold a cottage during the summer, a trend which is increasing lately.
Ranevsky dismisses this idea, because he does not want to cut down the family’s beautiful and beloved cherry orchard.
However, Lopakhin does not think there is a way to save the orchard, except to buy the house themselves, so he offers Ranevsky a loan if he changes his mind about the sale.
During the course of the plot, we find out that Ranevsky’s son Grisha has drowned and died, and that it still hurts him thinking about it. In fact, that was one of the reasons he decided to leave the country in the first place.
When Lopakhin leaves, Gayev offers three alternatives to save the orchard: the first one is a financial scheme using his connections (he has a banker friend), the second one is for Ranevsky to borrow money from Lopakhin, and finally asking for help from a wealthy aunt living in Yaroslavl.
The second act revolves around the reluctance of the family members to sell the cherry orchard.
In the meantime, Ranevsky reveals that there is a lover in Paris, waiting, but who before her return to her hometown left her after robbing her.
As a result she considered suicide, but in the end, did not do it.
The third act happens on the day of the auction. Ranevsky is having a party while Gayev and Lopakhin are on the auction. The guests of the party are a few local bureaucratic officials.
Ranevsky is worried because the men have not returned, and she believes that the orchard has been lost.
They made the plan to get the money from the aunt in Yaroslavl and buy the orchard – or use Gayev’s other sources.
However, they soon return – with bad news. Lopakhin has bought the orchard, and he has not changed his mind – he plans to destroy it.
Anya tries to offer words of comfort to her mother, but it is all in vain.
The last, fourth act, happens when the cherry orchard trees are cut down. All the characters of the drama are leaving the place. Everyone says their goodbyes and leaves.
The only person left is Firs, who has been accidentally left behind in the rush of departure. He lies on the couch and hears the sounds of the ax cutting the cherry trees and the breaking string.
This plot may not make a lot of sense to you, but when you read (or watch) the full drama, you will feel the nostalgia which spices up the drama.
The Cherry Orchard Epilogue
The cherry orchard is a symbol of memory and personal identity. Every character tries to both hold on to and let go of some events and aspects of their past.
The orchard, as a part of nature, is a connection to the past.
Another thing that you can subtly sense is the theme of values: the current modern values and the values of traditional Russia, and their differences.
Finally, the breaking string is the sound of “freedom” from the past and breaking the connection to it.
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“The Cherry Orchard PDF Quotes”
What she can't get into her narrow mind is that we're above such things as love. Our whole aim - the whole sense of our life - is to avoid petty illusions that stop us being free and happy. On, on, on! Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“The Cherry Orchard” is a simple play about human character and its connection to memory and the past.
Chekhov is known to write about societal topics, but he presents them in beautiful and subtle ways, through building archetypal characters that represent some part of society that he is commenting upon.
This play is told masterfully, and it is understandable why Chekhov’s texts are considered as a guide to good writing.