The Cherry Orchard | Study Guide

Anton Chekhov

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The Cherry Orchard | Quotes


I may be rich, I've made a lot of money, but ... I'm a peasant through and through.

Lopakhin, Act 1, Lyubov Andreyevna Returns Home

Lopakhin muses about his past and concludes that money does not necessarily change one's identity. However, he represents the new social order that gives power to a peasant because of his income.


I must go directly, there's no time to talk ... I'll say it in a couple of words.

Lopakhin, Act 1, Lopakhin's Plan

Lopakhin's impatience with talking is a striking contrast to others around him who talk, often excessively. He is a man of action who lives to work, an attitude that has made him very wealthy. Gayev, Lyubov Andreyevna, and Trofimov, however, are always talking but have trouble taking action.


Dear, honored bookcase, I salute thy existence, which ... has served the glorious ideals of goodness and justice.

Leonid Andreyevich Gayev, Act 1, Lopakhin's Plan

A man of talk rather than action, Gayev demonstrates his tendency to speak at length about irrelevant topics, which tries the patience of his family who often beg him to be quiet. His emotional speech to a 100-year-old bookcase is representative of his tendency to live in the past before the emancipation of the serfs, when the aristocracy to which he belongs still dominated Russia.


Cottages, summer people—forgive me, but it's so vulgar.

Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya, Act 2, Lyubov Andreyevna's and Gayev's Refusal

Lyubov Andreyevna reveals her class prejudice through her condescending dismissal of middle-class vacationers. She may be bankrupt but still considers herself upper class, although the people she scorns could help save her home. As a result she loses her estate in the end.


I keep expecting something to happen, like the house caving in on us.

Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya, Act 2, Lyubov Andreyevna's and Gayev's Refusal

Lyubov Andreyevna expresses a sentiment that also reflects Lopakhin's feelings toward her: he keeps waiting for her and Gayev to do something to save the orchard, yet they do nothing. The statement is also a reflection on the theme of talk versus action. She keeps waiting for something to happen instead of making a decision, seemingly unaware that something is happening.


How drab your lives are, how full of futile talk!

Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya, Act 2, Lyubov Andreyevna's and Gayev's Refusal

Lyubov Andreyevna admonishes Lopakhin after he has been to the theater. The joke on her is that her speech against going to the theater takes place as part of a play. As a woman who can speak but not act to change her circumstances, and who lacks self-awareness, Lyubov Andreyevna might as well be describing herself.


At that time I wouldn't consent to my freedom, I stayed with the masters.

Firs, Act 2, Lyubov Andreyevna's and Gayev's Refusal

Firs's class position spans generations. He represents the old system of serfdom and expresses a critique of the emancipation, which created hardship for liberated serfs even as they gained their freedom. Firs's role is again changing as a new middle class disrupts the master-servant relationship that defined the upper classes.


Just as the beast of prey, which devours everything ... is necessary ... so are you necessary.

Trofimov, Act 2, Trofimov's Speeches

Trofimov gives his assessment of Lopakhin. He believes Lopakhin takes whatever he can to make money, and he will soon devour the cherry orchard as well. Trofimov claims that Lopakhin is necessary as part of the social food chain, in which some people eat up the lives of others to get ahead. Aristocratic money used to drive the economy and help the poor. Now the new millionaires are often former peasants who built their own wealth and now support the collapsing upper classes.


All Russia is our orchard.

Trofimov, Act 2, Trofimov's Speeches

Trofimov expresses his love for Russia beyond what he sees as the greed of the aristocracy, which is represented by the orchard. He is optimistic that there is a place for everyone in a new, more egalitarian Russia.


Don't you see that from every cherry tree ... human beings are peering out at you?

Trofimov, Act 2, Trofimov's Speeches

Like Lyubov Andreyevna, Trofimov sees the orchard as a symbol of the past, but for him it is a dark past filled with tyranny. He tells Anya that the wealth she enjoyed was built on the labor and oppression of others, the human beings he imagines "peering out" at them.


I was born here ... without the cherry orchard my life has no meaning for me.

Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya, Act 3, Lyubov Andreyevna Holds a Dance

As Lyubov Andreyevna waits for news of the auction, she sums up her affection for her home. While Trofimov sees her ancestors as people who enslaved others, Lyubov Andreyevna feels deep connection to her family. Without her past she has no place in the world.


Lopakhin will lay the ax to the cherry orchard, how the trees will fall to the ground!

Lopakhin, Act 3, Lopakhin Takes Over

Lopakhin, announcing that he has bought the cherry orchard, bluntly reveals the future that will be created by the new moneyed classes. He has no sentimental connection to the past the orchard represents and rejoices at the chance to create new wealth from the system that treated him and his ancestors brutally.


They've forgotten me. ... Never mind ... I'll sit here awhile.

Firs, Act 4, Firs Is Left Behind

Firs represents the life that is left behind, the life that Lyubov Andreyevna and her family have lost forever.

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