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The major theme of The Cherry Orchard is the difficulty of change. Lyobov, the protagonist of the play, is totally unable to accept new ideas or ways. Even though she has squandered the family fortune, she continues to pretend she is aristocratic, giving money to a beggar when her servants are starving and renting an orchestra for a ball even though she does not have money to pay the musicians. Most importantly, she refuses to accept Lopahin's ideas about saving the family estate, for she cannot imagine changing the cherry orchard or having foreigners on her property. As a result of her refusal to change, she loses the cherry orchard. Ironically, Lopahin, a former slave on the estate, has amassed enough wealth to purchase the property; he immediately begins to clear the land to make it profitable. Lyobov weeps over the change - - both in her childhood home and the Russian aristocratic society.
Love, in its various forms, is the minor theme of the play. For five years, Lyobov has been living in Paris with her lover, who mistreats her. At the start of the play, she is relieved to return to Russia and get away from him. During the play, she is seen tearing up his many telegrams, which beg her to return. In the end, when the cherry orchard is sold, Lyobov feels she has no choice; she is preparing to return to Paris and her lover, who offers her a bit of security. In contrast, the affair between Dunyasha and Yasha has no future. Although she loves Yasha dearly, he has no romantic interest in her. At the end of the play, he leaves Dunyasha behind without a thought; he is eager to return to Paris with Lyobov.
Lyobov's daughters also have romantic interests. Anya is attracted to Trofimov, but he feels that he is above romantic love. His only real interest is in pursuing his studies and lofty ideas. At the end of the play, he is prepared to return to the University of Moscow, leaving Anya behind. In a similar manner, Varya is very attracted to Lopahin, the wealthy merchant who buys the cherry orchard. Although he promises Lyobov that he will marry her oldest daughter, Lopahin is really to busy with his business and making money to pursue a romantic relationship or to propose marriage. As a result, all of the love relationships presented in the play come to unhappy conclusions.