Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 680
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, she is exhausted by concern: about debts, for the servants, and about the future. Her efforts have come to nothing. She is in love with Lopakhin, a wealthy merchant who is so busy making money that he cannot bring himself to propose to her. Varya’s illusions of happiness and peace tempt her to run away to enter a convent. Neither of the aristocracy nor of the rising middle class, but caught between both, she finds that only work can ease her frustration and unhappiness.
Leonid Andreyevitch Gaev
Leonid Andreyevitch Gaev (leh-oh-NIHD ahn-DREH-yeh-vihch gah-EHF), Madame Ranevskaya’s brother, a restless, garrulous, and impractical dreamer. Bound to the old ways, he tries in vain to save the estate by borrowing or begging the necessary money. Like his sister, he is unwilling to sell the cherry orchard and let it be used for a housing subdivision. Until the last, he cherishes his illusions that they will be saved by a stroke of good fortune.
Ermolai Alexeyevitch Lopakhin
Ermolai Alexeyevitch Lopakhin (ehr-moh-LIH ah-lehk-SEH-yeh-vihch loh-PAH-khihn), a wealthy merchant whose father was a peasant. Without sentiment for the past, he lives in the present and for commercial opportunism. He redeems the past, literally, when he buys the Ranevsky estate, where his father and grandfather had been serfs. His feelings are calculated in terms of profit and loss, and his love for Varya cannot compete with his commercial zeal.
Peter Sergeyevitch Trofimov
Peter Sergeyevitch Trofimov (PYOH-tr sehr-GEH-yeh-vihch troh-FIH-mof), an idealistic young student willing to work for the future betterment of humankind. He claims his mission is freedom and happiness, escape from the petty and deceptive elements of life. His love for Anya is confused with social zeal, and his understanding of people is slight.
Boris Borisovitch Simeonov-Pishchik
Boris Borisovitch Simeonov-Pishchik (boh-RIHS boh-RIHS-eh-vihch sih-MEH-ehn-of-PIH-shchihk), a landowner constantly in debt, always trying to borrow money. Unlike the Ranevskys, he has no feeling for the land or his heritage. He eventually leases his land to be torn up for its valuable deposits of clay.
Charlotta Ivanova (shahr-LOHT-teh ih-VAH-neh-vah), the governess to the Ranevskys, a young woman who does not know her parentage. She is classless, ready to be swept by any tide.
Simeon Panteleyevitch Epikhodov
Simeon Panteleyevitch Epikhodov (seh-MYOHN pahn-teh-LEH-yeh-vihch eh-pih-KHOHD-of), a clerk in the Ranevsky household. He is in love with Dunyasha, a maid, who does not return his love.
Dunyasha (doo-NYAH-shah), who is in love with the brash young footman, Yasha. She dresses well and pretends to be a lady.
Fiers (fihrs), an old footman, faithful to the Ranevsky family for generations. Concerned only with the well-being of his employers, he is inadvertently left to die in the abandoned house, a symbol of the dying past.
Yasha (YAH-shah), an insolent young footman, Fiers’s grandson. Caring nothing for his family, Yasha thrives on cruelty and opportunism. He knowingly leaves his grandfather to die alone.