Livada de vișini – rezumat

„The Cherry Orchard” is the title of the last play written by the Russian author Anton Chekhov. The premiere took place on January 17, 1904, at the Moscow Art Theater, just a few months before the writer’s death. The motto of the play, „Life has passed as if we haven’t lived at all…”, suggests the central theme of the play, „Panta rhei” („Everything flows”), referring to the unstoppable passage of time and the permanent changes that take place in the world.

The action of the play unfolds over four acts. The characters are: Lyubov Andreevna Ranevskaya, the owner of a large estate, Anya (her seventeen-year-old daughter), Varya (her twenty-four-year-old adopted daughter), Leonid Andreevich Gayev (her brother), Charlotta Ivanovna (the governess), Ermolai Alekseevich Lopakhin (the buyer), Boris Borisovich Simeonov-Pishchik (another landowner), Firs (the butler), and Peter Trofimov (a student).

When Ranevskaya and Anya return home after a trip to Paris, they discover that the family is ruined. All the family members regret the loss of the beautiful cherry orchard, which held numerous memories for them. The estate had been looted in Paris by Ranevskaya’s former lover, and her money management habits were very irresponsible. Thus, within the family, we observe a deep attachment to the property but an inability to maintain it. The exception is Varya, the only one who had shown responsible behavior and had taken care of the estate while her mother was away.

A counterexample to the landowner’s behavior is Lopakhin Ermolai Alexeevich, who comes from a peasant family but, knowing how to earn and manage his money, had become a successful merchant. In the past, his family had worked hard on the Ranevskaya estate. Attached to her, Alexeevich advises her to sell the property and the cherry orchard to build new villas and thus live without worries for a while. The condition, however, was to demolish the family home and cut down the cherry orchard, which terrifies the landowner, but over time, she realizes that there was no other solution.

In the second act, we witness the formation of a love triangle between Dunyasha, Yasha, and the clerk Yepikhodov. However, the heroine is tormented by the thought of the financial tragedy that had befallen her, and her brother, Gayev, begins to consider accepting the job offer he had received at the bank. Meanwhile, her former lover from Paris, who had betrayed her unforgivably, continues to call her back.

The night of the auction arrives, and Ranevskaya organizes a ball that does not compare to the level of those in the past, and the atmosphere is filled with nostalgia for times gone by. The only one who draws Ranevskaya’s attention to her irresponsible financial extravagance is Peter, the student, who reminded her of her son who had died drowning in a river. When the two return from the auction, Lopakhin joyfully announces that he was the one who bought the cherry orchard and Ranevskaya’s estate. Despite Varya’s indignation and Ranevskaya’s tears, Lopakhin fails to mask his joy at being the new owner of the lands worked by his parents and grandparents, who had been serfs.

The last act depicts the preparations for the departure of the family and those close to them. Varya will leave to work on the Rogulini family estate, and thus, Lopakhin fails in his attempts to be with her. Alongside Yasha, Ranevskaya returns to Paris, and Yepikhodov remains in the service of the new owner, who leaves for a while to Kharkov. Pişcik appears, the landowner who had borrowed money from the former estate owner, and now was paying off part of the debt. Gayev takes a job at the bank, and Anya promises to finish high school. After everyone leaves, Lopakhin, convinced that no one was left in the house, closes the door, but after a while, Firs appears as an abandoned old man, sure that Gayev would come back for his coat, which he always forgot. However, no one appears, Firs lies on the floor, and from outside, the sound of an axe cutting down the cherry orchard is heard.

In conclusion, „The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov is a clever combination of comedy and tragedy and, as it could not be classified within the classic norms of the dramatic genre, it was considered an important contribution to the development of modern theater. First published in 1904, although it had been written a year earlier, the work underwent numerous modifications by the author, even after the first performance. At the time of the play’s appearance, critics considered the main idea of the work to be the breakup of the old noble order, putting „a monument on the grave of the sympathetic idlers”.