HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe Cherry OrchardAct 4 Lyubov Andreyevna Packs Up Summary

The Cherry Orchard | Study Guide

Anton Chekhov

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The Cherry Orchard | Act 4, Lyubov Andreyevna Packs Up | Summary

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Summary

It is October and the family gathers in the nursery once again. The room is bare, and luggage is stacked waiting to be taken away. Lopakhin waits with Yasha, who holds a tray of champagne. Gayev and Lyubov Andreyevna enter after saying goodbye to their servants, to whom Lyubov Andreyevna has given money. Lopakhin offers champagne as a parting show of his fondness for them, but Gayev and Lyubov Andreyevna decline. Yasha drinks all the champagne, instead. Trofimov and Lopakhin have a final discussion of Trofimov's vision of a revolutionary future. Trofimov is heading to Moscow, and Lopakhin offers him some money to help him on his journey. Trofimov refuses it.

The sound of an ax chopping is heard in the cherry orchard, and everyone prepares to leave. All are in transition. Yasha bids Dunyasha farewell forever, as Dunyasha says she loved him. Gayev and Lyubov Andreyevna remark that even though they are devastated, they became calmer once the cherry orchard was sold and their future path made clear. Gayev is taking a job with a bank. Lopakhin promises to find Charlotta a job. In a final twist of fortune Pishchik arrives to announce that he has come into considerable money and is there to pay his debts.

Analysis

The play began in spring, a time of hope, and ends in fall, a time of retirement. The action winds down as the family and servants regroup one last time. The scene reflects the changes in the family's status. Just as their belongings are moved to the side and cleared away, so are the remnants of a ruling class whose power is waning. Lopakhin's champagne represents his position between two worlds and two sets of emotions. The champagne is meant to honor Lyubov Andreyevna, his dear friend, but it also celebrates his jump in status as the owner of the cherry orchard. Tellingly she and Gayev refuse to drink it, and Trofimov refuses a loan Lopakhin offers him. The former aristocrats and the student who speaks on behalf of workers have one thing in common: they refuse to accept Lopakhin's rise in status or his attempts at apologetic generosity. Lopakhin seems unaware that his gloating over his purchase may have wounded some feelings.

That Lyubov Andreyevna and Gayev have come to feel more settled once the issue of the cherry orchard was resolved underscores again that they are happier when they are not making decisions. Even though their lack of action led to the sale of their home and the destruction of the orchard, they seem more at peace when they do nothing. A generation is passing as they leave their home, but their effort to remain cheerful suggests they have not wholly given in to despair.

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