Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Madame Lubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya
Madame Lubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya (lew-BOHF ahn-DREH-ehv-nuh rah-NEHF-skah-yah), a middle-aged woman and the owner of a large estate that has become impossible to maintain because of debts. Madame Ranevskaya is a remnant of the old order of Russian feudal aristocracy being pushed aside by social change. Her estate, her mansion, and especially the cherry orchard exist for her as symbols of her past, her innocent youth, and her formerly carefree life. She cannot reconcile herself to giving them up, she cannot change with the times, and she cannot assume the financial and emotional responsibility demanded of her. the forces that molded her are disappearing from Russian life.
Anya (AHN-yah), Madame Ranevskaya’s seventeen-year-old daughter. Although she loves the estate and the cherry orchard, her youth makes it possible for her to bend with the social tide. She reconciles herself to loss and change, to a new Russia of which she will be a part. Her love for Peter Trofimov, a student representative of the intellectual liberal in the new order, influences her toward confidence and hope for the future.
Varya (VAH-ryah), the adopted daughter of Madame Ranevskaya. Having managed the estate for years,...
(The entire section is 680 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Cherry Orchard Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Trofimov is a shabbily dressed "eternal student. '' He was a tutor for Mrs. Ranevsky's son, and the sight of him when she first returns to the cherry orchard brings back terrible memories of her son's death. She remarks that Trofimov has aged badly, which is a veiled reference to his time spent as an inmate in a labor camp for those found guilty of participating in subversive political activities. Trofimov's actions sometimes do not match his words. Remarking that he and Anya are "above love," he is criticized by Mrs. Ranevsky for his outspoken behavior. She ridicules his declaration, and as he storms out, he falls down a flight of stairs. Chekhov tries to keep Trofimov from being too serious by injecting humor into both the dialogue and his actions. Though he can be outspoken and critical, he is tender and supportive of Anya. He is constantly emphasizing the value of work as the salvation of Russia, and convinces Anya that the whole of Russia is her orchard. Soviet critics after the Russian Revolution of 1917 latched onto the character of Trofimov as a literary hero who exemplifies the ideals of Socialism, often citing his speech describing the trees in the orchard as souls.
(The entire section is 204 words.)
Mrs. Ranevsky is an aristocratic woman incapable of adapting to the changing social climate in Russia. When faced with the loss of her beloved orchard and estate, she is incapable of acting to save it. She is a kind and generous woman who is irresponsible when it comes to money and adult life. Though she knows that the orchard is up for auction in August, she continues to go out to lunch, throws a lavish party, and gives a gold piece to a homeless man. Her neighbor, Boris Simeonov-Pishchik, continues to borrow money from her, despite her desperate financial situation.
Having fled to Paris from Russia five years before to try to forget the deaths of her little boy and her husband, Mrs. Ranevsky has only succeeded in trading her problems at home for a new set of difficulties. She takes a villain for her lover, and is swindled out of most of her money and then is left by him for another woman. Once back in Russia, she receives telegrams from him begging her to return because he is ill. When the orchard and estate are lost to Lopakhin, she returns to her lover in Paris because she feels the need to take care of him.
Rather than living in the present, Mrs. Ranevsky pictures the orchard as it was in her childhood, with her mother walking through its aisles. She is crushed by the sale, but then freed from the worries associated with running such a large estate. Mrs. Ranevsky puts a face on the many wealthy landowners who lost their wealth and power...
(The entire section is 272 words.)
Lopakhin is a wealthy businessman whose grandfather was once a serf on the Ranevsky estate. Though sometimes seen as a calculating opportunist, he loves the Ranevsky family and tries to persuade Mrs. Ranevsky (who helped him as a child) to cut down the orchard to clear land for building country vacation cottages for the rising middle class. He grows increasingly impatient with her as she refuses to see the solution he suggests and does nothing to save the estate. Lopakhin eventually buys the estate at the auction, and in a vulgar display during the ball, he rejoices in owning the estate his family was once forced to serve. Much is made of the fact that Varya loves Lopakhin and that the two should marry, but he is too consumed with making money to propose to her. Lopakhin represents the triumph of vulgarity and ignorance of the middle class over the traditions of nobility and elegance of Czarist Russia.
(The entire section is 158 words.)
See Anya Ranevsky
See Charlotte Ivanovna
Dunyasha is the maid in the Ranevsky household who dreams of being an aristocratic lady. She parodies the ladies of the household, and compares herself to them. She must give up her dreams of marrying Yasha (Mrs. Ranevsky's manservant) when he returns to Paris with Mrs. Ranevsky. She agrees to marry Yepikhodov instead.
Firs is the Ranevsky family's faithful servant who, because of his loyalty to the family, chose to stay after the serfs were freed. Sickly and somewhat senile, he marks the play's most poignant moment when he is locked inside the estate and forgotten. He laments: "Life has slipped away as if l haven't lived."
See Leonid (layohNEED) Gayev
Leonid (layohNEED) Gayev (GUYev)
Gayev is Mrs. Ranevsky's brother. He is an irresponsible, unkempt man who prefers to play or pretend to play billiards than to find a solution to his family's problems. He is addicted to fruit candies, and talks a great deal—faults pointed out by his family several times in the play. Dreaming up several schemes to save the orchard, Guyev acts on none of them; instead he calls out billiard shots and believes someone will come forward to rescue the family. Like his sister, he imagines the cherry orchard as it was in his childhood, unable to...
(The entire section is 866 words.)