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The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard

by Anton Chekhov

Analysis: Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Lubov and Gaev return to their childhood home on the cherry orchard.

The beginning of the play establishes the deep emotional attachment Lubov and others have to the cherry orchard. At this point, it is unthinkable that the estate could be lost.

Conflict

Lopakhin announces that the cherry orchard will be sold.

Lopakhin, the pragmatist, shares his plan for the orchard: clear it and cut it up into lots. Lubov and Gaev would never consider such a thing.

Complication

Lubov and Gaev stall on making any decisions. The transient enters to remind them of the weight of the past.

In the very orchard that's the source of conflict, Lubov and Gaev simply enjoy its beauty. Lopakhin reminds them once more that the auction date is approaching and they must make a decision. Trofimov, while not a fan of Lopakhin's schemes, favors getting rid of the orchard. For him it's a symbol of injustice.

Climax

At the party, Lopakhin announces that he's bought the orchard.

While trying to entertain, Lubov waits in agony for the men to return from the auction. Drumroll: Lopakhin bought it! He gives a big, dramatic speech in which the purchase of the orchard emerges almost as an act of revenge for his ancestor's servitude.

Suspense

What will they do next?

There's just a brief moment at the end of Act 3 – after Lopakhin has gloated and gone – when Lubov sits crying. Anya approaches her gently, reminding her that she still has her life to live. Will Lubov go somewhere new? Will she return to Paris?

Denouement

The family is moving out.

Luggage is piled up as the family waits for the train – all of them dispersing to various locations. Lopakhin excitedly starts the clearing of the orchard.

Conclusion

The family is gone. The house is locked. Fiers is left behind.

It's the end of an era, and the era's last representative, Fiers, is left alone and dying.

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