The Cherry Orchard Questions and Answers
Q.1. Describe Dunyasha’s character. How does she dress? What is she constantly distracted by? Is she dedicated to her job?
Dunyasha is the maid on Lyubov’s estate, although she does not act or carry herself like a servant. She wears her hair and attire like a “lady,” and perpetually powders her face. She is accused of being “man crazy” and is constantly consumed with the suitors who proposition her. She tells Anya in Act 1 that Yepikhodov, the clerk, has proposed marriage, and she spends much of her time deciding whether or not she will marry him. She falls in love with Yasha, the man-servant to Lyubov.
Q.2. How is Lopakhin’s character different than that of Firs? How are they alike?
Lopakhin is a local merchant and friend of the family. He is the descendant of serfs and therefore is of the same class of person as Firs, who is a servant who chose not to leave after the emancipation Lopakhin’s father and grandfather worked on Lyubov’s estate, as Firs does. However, despite his poor background and his father’s constant abuse and drunkenness, he goes on to become the richest person in the play. At the end of the play he purchases the estate, and therefore becomes the master of Firs and the remaining servants.
Q.3. How is Varya’s character unique in the play? What role does she fulfil in the household? What is her style of dress?
Varya is Lyubov’s 24-year-old adopted daughter. She is more pious than the other characters in the play and wears black. She is in love with Lopakhin, but is heartbroken over his inability to propose to her–despite the fact that everyone expects him to ask her hand in marriage. She dreams of leaving the estate behind and entering a convent. Varya acts more as a maid to the family and the estate (unlike the actual maid. Dunyasha), and is unhappy if she is not working. She could also be interpreted as somewhat of a prude.
Q.4. Trofimov is a character who speaks about philosophical ideals throughout the play. What are the concepts and ideals that he speaks about? What is his level of education? What does he feel about the other characters in The Cherry Orchard?
Trofimov, the eternal student, was the tutor to Lyubov’s son who drowned in the river. He has a disheveled appearance and is proud of it. He has been kicked out of the university on numerous occasions but consistently returns. Trofimov is the one “intellectual” of the play and has been viewed as a precursor to Socialist thought. He sees the squalid conditions of the peasants and the ignorance of the upper classes, yet despite his philosophical ideals, he seems powerless to change things. He has disdain for the idleness of the aristocracy.
Q.5. Who is the owner of the estate? What are the primary faults and/or character flaws of this character? Where has this character been prior to the beginning of the play? Why?
Lyubov is the mistress of the estate. She has been away in Paris for 5 years, following the death of her husband and the death of her son. Lyubov’s defining characteristic is her inability to accept reality, and her flagrant spending of money. Despite the fact that the peasants and servants have little to eat, she over-tips at restaurants, gives beggars gold coins, and is racking up considerable debt everywhere she goes.
Q.6. Who is involved in a “love triangle” in the play? How?
Yasha, Dunyasha, and Yepikhodov are involved in a love triangle. Yepikhodov has proposed to Dunyasha and seems forlorn with her ambivalence about him. Dunyasha is in love with Lyubov’s man-servant, Yasha. Yasha seems more or less ambivalent about Dunyasha, although he does flirt with her. In the end of the play, Yasha casts aside Dunyasha, anxious to return to Paris with his master and to fashionable society.
Q.7. What does Lopakhin suggest that Lyubov and Gaev do with the estate in Act 2? What is their reaction? How does Lopakhin feel about Gaev and Lyubov’s reaction to his proposal?
Lopakhin suggests that Gaev and Lyubov divide the estate into separate lots to rent as summer cottages to the middle class in Act 2. His frustration comes from the fact that they won’t listen to reason. He gives them a solution to repay their debts but reality won’t set in and neither of the landowners will take any action to stop the auction from happening. They bemoan their fate, but the prospect of cutting down the cherry Orchard to divide the land for summer cottages is unthinkable to Gaev and Lyubov.
Q.8. Who is Pishchik? How does he know the family? What request does he make to Lyubov repeatedly in Act 2?
Pishchik is a nearby landowner, constantly in debt, who arrives at Lyubov’s estate to ask to borrow money regularly from her. He knows that the Ranavskaya’s are penniless, but he never relents in asking to borrow more. At the end of the play, Englishmen have discovered clay on his land and he leases it to them for 24 years, arriving just as the family is leaving to repay his debts to everyone.
Q.9. Who is the comic relief in the play? How does this play out?
The servants provide the majority of comic relief in The Cherry Orchard, although the absurdity of all of the characters has comic elements. Charlotte, with her magic tricks and ventriloquism provide humorous moments, as well as the love triangle surrounding Dunyasha. Dunyasha is a relatively absurd and comic character, as she rarely ever performs her duties as a maid, but instead cavorts about the men-folk throughout the play, leaving Varya or Firs to fulfill the household duties. Varya’s hitting Lopakhin by mistake with the stick is another comic moment within Act 3.
Q.10. Which character had a lover in Paris? What became of this situation?
Lyubov arrives from Paris in Act 1. She has returned because she is in debt and her lover in Paris has left her for another woman. She returns because the estate is going up for auction in several months to repay the debts that she has accrued in Paris and in Mentone.
Q.11. Describe the relationship between Varya and Lopakhin.
Varya seems to be in love with Lopakhin, and everyone expects him to propose to her. However, during the course of the play they rarely speak to one another. Varya explains to her mother that it is Lopakhin who must propose to her–not the other way around. But Lopakhin seems too occupied with business matters to pay any attention to Varya.
Q.12. What events led to Lyubov leaving the estate? When did she leave?
Lyubov left the estate following the death of her husband and later her son. Her husband, she claims, drank himself to death. Her son drowned in the river on the estate. She fell in love with another man following the death of her husband and left after her son’s death. Her lover followed her to France. She has been away for five years.
Q.13. What does Lopakhin suggest Lyubov and Gaev do with the estate? Why?
Lopakhin suggests that Lyubov divide the estate into lots and chop down the cherry trees. With the growing middle class in the city and the fact that the railroad is now nearby, he believes that the summer cottages will be leased up immediately, granting rent money that will save Lyubov and her family from their increasing debts.
Q.14. What are Lyubov’s “sins,” referred to by her in Act 2?
Lyubov says that her sins are the fact that she spends money scrupulously, which we can see by her inability to manage funds. She marries a man who also builds up considerable debt. She falls in love after his death and moves in with another man, and then her son dies. She then fleas to Paris, where her lover follows her and becomes ill. She buys a house to take care of him then sells it to get herself out of debt, and then he leaves her in Paris for another woman, after taking all of her money. She tries to poison herself but doesn’t succeed, then returns to the Cherry Orchard.
Q.15. Describe Firs’ character. What is his position at the estate? Is related to other characters in the play? How?
Firs is the oldest and one of the only) servants left at the estate. He is 87 years old. He is a loyal servant who did not leave after the emancipation because of his loyalty to the family. He longs for the old days, and does not have a high opinion of how the social system has changed in Russia. He is the grandfather to Yasha.
Q.16. Which character is the most “socialist”? How?
Trofimov is the most socialist character. In his philosophical waxing, he speaks of the filth and squalor of the peasants and the uselessness of the aristocracy. He believes that the only way to move on and to make the world a better place is to work and to leave behind the idleness that consumes the intelligentsia.
Q.17. Does Firs have loyalty to the family? How do we know?
Firs is incredibly loyal to the family. He constantly follows his master, Gaev, around the estate and chastises his for wearing the wrong clothes or not wearing a coat when it’s cold outside. He is old and feeble, yet he works hard to ensure the comfort of his masters. He also chooses not to leave during the emancipation and refers to the old days as better than today where people don’t know their place anymore.
Q.18. What event is taking place in Act 3? What purpose does this event serve to the story?
There is a ball taking place in the beginning of Act 3. Lyubov has invited the Jewish band to play and has invited the Post Office Clerk and the Station Master to the ball as well as Pishkin and others. This serves to show us that despite the futility of their money situation, Lyubov has learned nothing. She has no way to even pay the band, yet she holds a grand ball as though she were rich.
Q.19. Explain the argument between Lyubov and Trofimov in Act 3.
In Act 3, Lyubov and Trofimov argue about love and realism. Trofimov begs Lyubov to face reality and accept that the estate will be sold at auction and to go on with her life. Lyubov reveals that she will likely return to Paris because her lover has been sending for her and she still loves him. Trofimov accuses her of being a fool to love a man who’s robbed her and Lyubov accuses Trofimov of being young and having not suffered enough to understand. She calls him a fool for being as old as he is and without a lover.
Q.20. What is the irony of the landowners in The Cherry Orchard?
The irony of the landowners in The Cherry Orchard is that all of them, despite their aristocratic blood, are virtually penniless. None of them know what to do about their situation, although solutions are presented and they look directly past them. The former serfs have more money than the aristocracy.
Q.21. What is the emotional state of Lyubov at the beginning of Act 3? Why?
Lyubov is anxious at the beginning of Act 3 because she is awaiting Gaev’s return to find out what has happened at the auction. She is fretful to find out if the money the Countess sent was able to buy the auction in her name or whether it has been sold to someone else. Gaev is late and has not yet returned.
Q.22. Who performs magic tricks? What tricks does he/she perform? Where did he/she learn to perform them?
Charlotta performs magic tricks at the ball for entertainment to the guests. She learned to perform them when she was growing up as the child of circus performers. She performs card tricks and she makes Anya and Dunyasha appear behind a curtain. She also throws her voice to sound as if she’s under the floor.
Q.23. Who is Charlotta? What is her position in the household? How is she described physically?
Charlotta is a thin woman, tightly laced, who is the governess of Anya. She was taught to be a governess by a German woman who adopted her following the death of her parents. Her parents were performers at fairs and she travelled with them and performed tricks. She is apparently German.
Q.24. Who is the Countess? How does she play into the plot? Where does she live?
The Countess is Lyubov’s aunt. She lives in Yaroslav with her husband, whom she married despite the fact that he is not nobility. It is mentioned that the aunt does not like their family, although she does send 15,000 rubles to buy the estate in her name. Anya is sent to ask her for the money.
Q.25. Who is Deriganov? How does he/she play into the plot?
Deriganov is the wealthy landowner who has laid claim to buy the estate at auction. He is never seen in the play, but is spoken of in third person. On the day the estate is to be sold, it is whether or not Deriganov has bought it that causes consternation with Lyubov and the family.
Q.26. What happened to Lyubov’s son? How does she feel about it?
Lyubov’s son drowned in the river on the estate approximately five years ago, just before she left for Paris in grief. He was seven years old. Lyubov was devastated at his loss and claims this is why she left the cherry orchard.
Q.27. Where do the telegrams arrive from? What do they say?
Lyubov’s telegrams arrive from Paris. They are from her lover who previously left her for another woman after swindling her money. It is implied that he is calling out to her for more money, although outwardly stated that he is ill and needs her to come and take care of him. She plans to return to him in Paris at the end of the play.
Q.28. How does Trofimov feel about the upper classes?
Trofimov feels that the upper classes are ignorant. They are useless and idle and don’t do anything to make Russia a better place. There is filth and suffering amongst the poor and yet the aristocracy has done nothing to help them, and now the rich have become the poor. He believes that work is the only way to go forward.
Q.29. What does Lyubov feel about her lover? How does she show her feelings?
Lyubov is in love with her lover in Paris, and although she is aware that he has cheated her, she still plans to return to him. She repeatedly tears up his telegrams but like all of her faults, she seems incapable of changing her behaviour.
Q.30. What does Firs say in Act 3 about the guests at the estate? How are they different from the guests before?
Firs complains about the guests at the estate. He says that in “the old days” the guests at the balls were nobility and generals, while now the only people in town are the Postal Clerk and the Station Master. They are essentially like peasants and out of place at an elite affair.
Q.31. What is the relationship between Yasha and Dunyasha?
Yasha knows Dunyasha from before he left for Paris. She was but a child then, and he refers to her as “Little Cucumber.” Yasha embraces Dunyasha several times in the play and she professes her love and adoration for him. However, Yasha seems to more or less be uninterested in Dunyasha, aside from flirting with her.
Q.32. What is the relationship between Dunyasha and Yepikhodov?
Dunyasha has accepted Yepikhodov’s proposal for marriage at the beginning of the play, but she never gives him so much as the time of day. She is giddy, though, and admits that she likes Yepikhodov and discusses whether or not she will marry him. However, she is clearly smitten with the young Yasha, whom she says is intelligent and witty and cultured.
Q.33. Who buys the estate at auction? How did this come about?
Lopakhin buys the estate at the auction. Weary of trying to convince Lyubov to divide it into rentable lots for summer cottages, he decides to take it as his own and divvy it up. He is happy for the purchase, as it means he now owns the estate where his ancestors worked as slaves.
Q.33. What is the emotional state of Lopakhin in Act 3?
Lopakhin is overjoyed, and a little drunk when he arrives at the estate from the auction. He is pompous after having bought the estate from Lyubov and gloats in his glory. He intends to chop down the orchard and divide the land into cottages to let out and will likely make a fortune.
Q.34. How does Varya feel about Yepikhodov? What does she do to show her feelings?
Varya is annoyed by Yepikhodov throughout the play. He is a bumbling idiot to her, and it was likely his bad money management and record-keeping as the estate’s clerk that contributed to their current situation. She threatens to beat him with a stick in Act 3 and she complains that he doesn’t know his place as a servant to his masters.
Q.35. What is the emotional state of Lyubov at the end of Act 3? Why?
Lyubov is devastated that Lophakhin has bought the estate at the auction. She knows that he plans on chopping down her beloved cherry orchard and the house that she grew up in. This means that she no longer has a home and must relinquish her attachment to the past and her childhood.
Q.36. Describe the setting in Act 4. Is the setting the same as any other Act? How so? How is it different?
Act 4 takes place in the nursery. It is the same room as Act 1, although now all of the paintings are taken down and furniture is piled against the walls. Suitcases are prepared to be taken to the carriage and the family is leaving the estate forever.
Q.37. Describe the emotional state of Lopakhin in Act 4. Why is he happy or sad?
Lopakhin is happy that he is now master of the estate in Act 4. He has bought champagne as a going away celebration although the family refuses to drink it. He feels as though he has saved Lybov’s family from ruin and anticipates his own prosperity at renting the summer cottages.
Q.38. Describe the emotional state of Anya in Act 4.
Anya is happy and hopeful in Act 4. She looks forward to a new beginning and a new life. She will study and then work and will help her mother to adjust to their new lives.
Q.39. Describe the emotional state of Lyubov in Act 4. Why does she feel this way?
Lyubov is now happy again in Act 5. She is saddened at losing the estate, but resigned to her new life. She is relieved to no longer have to worry about the impending sale and now has enough money to support herself in Paris.
Q.40. What is suggested by Trofimov’s haggard appearance?
Trofimov’s haggard appearance shows that he is not consumed with the finer things that the aristocracy concern themselves with. It is also suggested that he has been imprisoned for his controversial ideas and this is why he’s been expelled from school on occasions. He is poor, and has no money for expensive clothes.
Q.41. How does Trofimov feel about Lopakhin? What does he say to Lopakhin in Act 4 that tells us this?
Trofimov sees Lopakhin as a leech on society. He is a money-grubber, and he is boastful. On the other hand, he seems to respect Lopakhin in that he does work-as opposed to the aristocracy who simply spend their time idle.
Q.42. Describe the symbolism of the cherry orchard within the play.
The cherry orchard represents the past. Trofimov states that the souls of the slaves look out from the trees-that the wealth that Lyubov’s family enjoyed was based on owning slaves and using them to work in the “fields” so to speak. The archard also represents beauty and the elegance of the nobility-which now is being hacked down to make room for a new social order where the peasants are king.
Q.43. What philosophical/social themes does Chekhov comment on in the play, The Cherry Orchard?
The emancipation of the mid-1800s is still felt in the uprooting of social order in Russia. Chekhov shows this in The Cherry Orchard in the futility of the characters’ ability to find solid ground in their new roles within that order. The nobility is crushed and the rising middle class has taken power.
Q.44. What class of people does Lyubov represent in the play? How?
Lyubov represents the dying out of the aristocracy in post-czarist Russia. She is unable to understand how to relate to the world around her, and relives the past. She has no concept of money but the superiority of nobility.
Q.45. Why does Trofimov refuse to take money from Lopakhin in Act 4?
Trofimov refuses Lopakhin’s offer for a loan because he wants to be beholden to no one. He doesn’t value money but instead education. He claims that money is all that Lopakhin and the others care about and it makes them slaves while he is free.
Q.46. What is happening in Act 4? Who is present?
In Act 4, the family is departing. Lopakhin is returning to Kharkov to spend the winter working and everyone is going their separate ways. The carriage is being loaded for departure.
Q.47. How is Russia compared with the rest of Europe throughout the play?
Russia is referred to as “backward” in comparison to the rest of Europe. Partly because it is the countryside, but largely because of the lack of education, it is seen as behind the times of greater Europe. Paris is considered fashionable and trendy, but the estate’s location makes it lacking in refinement.
Q.48. Where will Lyubov go in Act 4? Why?
Lyubov plans to return to her lover in Paris. He has been sending telegrams for her and is ill, and she loves him despite knowing he is only using her.
Q. 49. Where will Gaev go in Act 4? Why?
Gaev plans to go to the city nearby to work at the bank. He doesn’t really have a home anymore after the estate is sold and must work to make money. He will be a banker in town.
Q.50. What will Anya do at the end of Act 4?
Anya says she will go to town to pass her high-school exams and then work. It is suspected that she will go where Gaev is going–to the nearby town. She asks her mother to return from Paris so that they can live together, read books, and she will work to support them.
Q.51. What is the emotional state of Varya in Act 4? Why?
Varya seems devastated to be unable to work. Lyubov’s says that since the sale of the estate she has grown pale and thin and cried endlessly. However, she plans to move to a nearby household to act as a housekeeper. When Lopakhin does not propose to her, she breaks down sobbing, but then recovers and leaves for the Ragulins’.
Q.52. What is the emotional state of Firs at the end of Act 4?
Firs is tired and weary and ill at the end of Act 4. He has been forgotten and left behind, but nonetheless he is still consumed with whether or not Gaev remembered to wear his coat. He sits down in the empty house and dies.
Q.53. What does the sound in the distance (from Acts 2 and 4) symbolize?
The broken guitar string symbolizes death. It happens just after Lyboy’s son is mentioned in Act 2 and just after Firs dies in Act 4. The sound of the cherry trees being chopped down is also heard, symbolizing the end of an era.