The Cherry Orchard

by

Anton Chekhov

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The Cherry Orchard Themes

Themes and Colors
Social Change Theme Icon
Loss, Grief, and Class Theme Icon
Love and Sentimentality Theme Icon
Selfishness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Cherry Orchard, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Social Change

The central theme of The Cherry Orchard is that of social change. Written in the early 1900s, the play depicts a Russia on the brink of revolution. As the aristocracy’s power wanes, former serfs experience freedom, and a burgeoning middle class takes root, the central characters of the play—representative of the upper, middle, and lower classes—find themselves struggling to negotiate their relationships, loyalties, and anxieties about the changing socioeconomic landscape of their country. Through The

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Loss, Grief, and Class

One of the most profound themes in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard is loss. From Madame Ranevsky, her brother Gayef, and her daughters Barbara and Anya’s loss of their ancestral home, to Ranevsky’s lingering grief over the death of her youngest son Grisha, to Ephikhodof’s resigned acceptance of his daily misfortunes, every character within the play—even the minor ones—is struggling with feelings of loss, grief, and pain. In suffusing each character’s story…

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Love and Sentimentality

Many of the characters in The Cherry Orchard are shown to be actively fighting against—or struggling to contain—feelings of love and sentimentality as the play goes on. The radical Peter Trophimof believes himself “above love,” even though he harbors unresolved feelings for Anya; Barbara is passively waiting on a proposal from the wealthy Lopakhin, a proposal that may never come; Dunyasha longs to prove herself a sentimental lady in order to appeal to…

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Selfishness

In The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov places the worst human impulses under a rather unforgiving microscope. The play sets up a tense dramatic situation—Madame Ranevsky and her family will lose their ancestral home if they do not parcel off their cherry orchard and rent it out to their neighbors—which then unfolds over the course of several months as Ranevsky’s poor spending habits, her neighbor Lopakhin’s envy and ambition, and her servants’ and daughters’…

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