The Cherry Orchard

Characters

The spelling of character names depends on the transliteration used.

  • Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya – a landowner. Ranyevskaya is the linchpin around which the other characters revolve. A commanding and popular figure, she represents the pride of the old aristocracy, now fallen on hard times. Her confused feelings of love for her old home and sorrow at the scene of her son's death, give her an emotional depth that keeps her from devolving into a mere aristocratic grotesque. Most of her humor comes from her inability to understand financial or business matters.
  • Peter Trofimov – a student and Anya's love interest. Trofimov is depicted as an "eternal" (in some translations, "wandering") student. An impassioned left-wing political commentator, he represents the rising tide of reformist political opinion in Russia, which struggled to find its place within the authoritarian Czarist autocracy.
  • Boris Borisovich Simeonov-Pishchik – a landowner and another old aristocrat whose estate has hit hard times. He is constantly discussing new business ventures that may save him and badgering Ranyevskaya for a loan. His character embodies the irony of the aristocracy's position: despite his financial peril, he spends the play relaxing and socializing with the Gayevs.
  • Anya – Lyubov's daughter, aged 17. She journeys to Paris to rescue her mother from her desperate situation. She is a virtuous and strong young woman. She is in love with Trofimov and listens to his revolutionary ideas, although she may or may not be taking them in.
  • Varya – Lyubov's adopted daughter, aged 24. Varya is the one who manages the estate and keeps everything in order. She is the rock that holds the family together. The reason why Ranekskaya adopted her is never made clear, although she is mentioned to have come from "simple people" (most likely serfs). Varya fantasizes about becoming a nun, though she lacks the financial means to do so. She adores her mother and sister, and frets about money constantly. Her relationship to Lopakhin is a mysterious one; everyone in the play assumes that they are about to be married but neither of them act on it.
  • Leonid Andreieveitch Gayev – the brother of Madame Ranevskaya. One of the more obviously comic characters, Gayev is a talkative eccentric. His addiction to billiards (often manifesting itself at times of discomfort) is symbolic of the aristocracy's decadent life of leisure, which renders them impotent in the face of change. Gayev tries hard to save his family and estate, but ultimately, as an aristocrat, lacks the drive.
  • Yermolai Alexeievitch Lopakhin – a merchant. Lopakhin is by far the wealthiest character in the play, but comes from the lowest social class. This contrast defines his character: he enjoys living the high life, but at the same time is uncomfortably conscious of his low beginnings and obsession with business. He is often portrayed on stage as an unpleasant character because of his greedy tendencies and ultimate betrayal of the Gayev family, but there is nothing in the play to suggest this: he works strenuously to help the Gayevs, but to no avail. Lopakhin represents the new middle class in Russia, one of many threats to the old aristocratic way of doing things.
  • Charlotta Ivanovna – a governess. By far the most eccentric character, Charlotta is the only governess the Gayevs could afford and is a companion for Anya. She is a melancholy figure, raised by a German woman without any real knowledge of who her circus entertainer parents were. She performs card tricks and ventriloquism at the party in the third act and accepts the loss of her station, when the family disbands, with pragmatism.
  • Yepikhodov – a clerk. The Gayev's estate clerk is another source of comedy. He is unfortunate and clumsy in the extreme, earning him the insulting nickname "Twenty-Two Calamities" (the nickname varies between translations). He considers himself to be in love with Dunyasha, whom he has asked to marry him.
  • Dunyasha – a housemaid. Like Lopakhin, she is another example of social mobility in Russia at the time. A peasant who is employed as the Gayev's chambermaid, Dunyasha is an attention seeker, making big scenes and dressing as a lady to show herself off. She is in some respects representative of the aristocracy's impotence, as a lowly chambermaid would not in the past have had the freedom to dress like a lady and flirt with the manservants. She is in love with Yasha.
  • Firs – a manservant, aged 87. An aging eccentric, Firs considers the emancipation of the Russian serfs a disaster, and talks nostalgically of the old days when everybody admired their masters and owners, such as Gayev's parents and grandparents. His senility is a source of much of the play's poignancy, symbolizing the decay of the old order into muttering madness.
  • Yasha – young manservant. He is strongly implied to be Lyubov's gigolo. The play's only truly unpleasant character, Yasha represents the new, disaffected Russian generation, who dislike the staid old ways and who will be the foot soldiers of the revolution. A rude, inconsiderate and predatory young man who wears cheap cologne, Yasha, like Dunyasha and Charlotta, is the best the Gayevs can afford. He toys with the girlish affections of Dunyasha, the maid.
  • A Stranger – a passer-by who interrupts and insults the Gayevs as they laze around on the Gayevs' estate during Act II. He is symbolic of the intrusion of new ideologies and social movements that infringed on the aristocracy's peace in Russia at the turn of the 20th century.
  • The Stationmaster and The Postmaster – Both officials attend the Gayevs' party in Act III. Although they both play minor roles (the Stationmaster attempts to recite a poem, and the Postmaster flirts with Dunyasha), they are mostly symbols of the deprecation of the aristocracy in 1900s Russia – Firs comments that, whereas once they had barons and lords at the ball, now it's the postman and the stationmaster, and even they come only to be polite.
  • Guests, servants, and others.

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