What is the main plot of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekov?
The main plot of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekov revolves around a family that has owned a piece of land with a home and a cherry orchard—the family's changing fortune causes them now to face the loss of everything. Whereas these are people that have had wealth and success, the money has disappeared and they are forced to sell the property. They look to the future with nothing. Anya describes the trip home, and how recklessly her mother (and Charlotta) spent money like it was water:
ANYA. She's already sold her villa near Mentone; she's nothing left, nothing. And I haven't a copeck left either; we only just managed to get here. And mother won't understand! We had dinner at a station; she asked for all the expensive things, and tipped the waiters one rouble each. And Charlotta too. Yasha wants his share too--it's too bad.
This is a story of a family whose family fortunes are rapidly declining. As their social station is falling, a man who is a part of the rising middle class is purchasing their property.The transition is a very painful one. While some characters, like Anya, are aware of the dire situation the family is in, others—like her mother—refuse to see things realistically.
While Chekov intended the story to be a comedy, it is invariably performed highlighting the tragic side of the family's transition. It is noted that it is likely not a statement by Chekov about the Russian economy, but more likely prompted by memories of his own family losing their home in 1876.
It is easy to understand why the loss of the property and the home is so difficult—it is like a living thing to which they are attached, where their past is tied as if their youth had occurred only the day before.
LUBOV. [Looks out into the garden] Oh, my childhood, days of my innocence! In this nursery I used to sleep; I used to look out from here into the orchard. Happiness used to wake with me every morning, and then it was just as it is now; nothing has changed. [Laughs from joy] It's all, all white! Oh, my orchard! After the dark autumns and the cold winters, you're young again, full of happiness, the angels of heaven haven't left you.
The plot revolves around a family losing its home—driven by the the painfulness of change.