KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The play takes place on the estate of Madame Ranevsky in Russia; the estate is literally a cherry orchard. Most of the action takes place inside Madame Ranevsky's house or in the open countryside just next to the house. Since it is set in the early twentieth century, it is a time of change for Russia; the country is just opening up to foreigners and Russian inhibitions are falling away. Many voices of dissent are being raised against slavery, and the hint of revolution is already in the air.
Madame Lyobov Andreyevna Ranevsky - the attractive owner of the cherry orchard, the mother of two daughters (Anya and Varya), and the protagonist of the play. Since she is not careful with her money, she must sell the orchard, to which she is very attached. Madame Ranevsky's husband is dead, and she is involved with another man in Paris. Her brother calls her behavior immoral.
Anya - Lyobov's nineteen-year-old daughter. She is a happy, fun loving girl whom everybody loves. She seems to have a special soft spot for Trofimov, a perpetual student, and for her mother, whom she dearly loves.
Varya - Lyobov's responsible adopted daughter, who is twenty- four years of age. When her mother goes to Paris, she is left behind to look after the house, a task she does with great care. She also watches over Anya and complains that she spends too much time with Trofimov. Although people encourage her to fall in love with Lopahin, nothing comes of it; at the end of the play, she is still not engaged or married.
Gaev (Leonid) - Madame Ranevsky's brother, who is very fond of his sister. Like her, he is also attached to the orchard and unsuccessfully tries to prevent its sale. Although he has never worked in his life, at the end of the play he accepts a job in a bank.
Lopahin (Yermolay Alexeyevitch) - a prominent merchant, who is proud to have risen from a slave to a wealthy man. He purchases the cherry orchard. Although he is encouraged to pursue Varya, he never proposes to her.
Trofimov (Pyotr Sergeyevitch) - a "perpetual student," who served as the tutor of Lyobov's son, Grisha, who was killed in an accident. In appearance, he looks like the studious type, with thinning hair and glasses. Although he has an interest in Anya, he leaves for the University towards the end of the play.