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The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard


by Anton Chekhov

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Comedy or Tragedy

Chekhov called his play a "Comedy in Four Acts," provoking a famous argument with the director Stanislavsky (see "Genre"). What about the ending: the tearful eviction, the dying old man? It's sad! Can we break with Chekhov and call it a tragedy? Does it depend on who we name the protagonist (see "Character Roles")? Let's try it both ways.

Comedy: Shadow of Confusion

The family returns to the estate.

Lubov, Gaev, Varya, and Anya are all confused about how to take action to save the cherry orchard. Lopakhin suggests leasing the land for summer estates, but they deny him. No one in the family sees a clear way forward.

Comedy: Nightmarish Tangle

Lubov and Gaev refuse to come up with a plan.

Everyone's in a state of conflict at the picnic. Lubov blames Gaev for wasting money; Dunyasha's throwing herself away on Yasha; everyone teases Varya about Lopakhin; Lopakhin threatens to leave if they don't decide something about the cherry orchard. At the party, the servants upset Varya by drinking and playing pool; Pischik loses his money; Lubov and Trofimov argue. It's all a mess.

Comedy: Coming to Light

Lopakhin buys the orchard. The family clears out.

No more uncertainty. Lopakhin is triumphant. Gaev and Lubov are forced to relinquish the past. Trofimov and Anya embark on a union, released into a future they can choose for themselves.

Tragedy: Anticipation Stage

Lubov returns home.

Lubov resolutely leaves Paris behind and wants to make being home "work," despite financial difficulties and the looming memories of death.

Tragedy: Dream Stage

No suitable solution presents itself.

If Lubov is the protagonist, she's an inactive one. Her efforts to save the cherry orchard (mostly repeating "I'm sure we'll think of something") make Gaev's look heroic.

Tragedy: Frustration Stage

Lubov begins to see the orchard slipping away.

Lubov irritably blames herself and Gaev for running the estate into the ground, and clings to Lopakhin in the hopes that he'll come up with a plan they can accept. At the party, she attacks Trofimov. The idea of Paris – and her sick lover – seem to sound better and better.

Tragedy: Nightmare Stage

Lubov discovers that the orchard now belongs to Lopakhin.

Lopakhin bought the orchard, and she knows what he'll do with it. The house, the nursery she loved, the orchard – they'll all be torn down.

Tragedy: Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Lubov leaves the orchard.

While she struggles to present a brave front, a moment alone with Gaev reveals her Lubov's true feelings. She is shattered to leave the orchard.

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