Act One [beginning until Anya leaves for bed]
On an estate with a cherry orchard, the businessman Lopakhin and the servant Dunyasha await the return of Ranevsky, the estate owner. Ranevsky arrives with her daughters, Anya and Varya, her manservant, Firs, and Anya's governess, Charlotte. Dunyasha delights Anya by telling her that Trofimov, the tutor of Ranevsky's dead son, is staying in the bathhouse. Varya comments that Lopakhin has not proposed to her yet.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act One [beginning until Anya leaves for bed]
Act One [Anya's exit to end of Act]
Lopakhin proposes cutting down the cherry trees and building cottages for lease to avoid auctioning the estate to pay Ranevsky's debts, an idea she refuses. Ranevsky says she can see her dead mother out in the orchard, but then realizes it is just a tree. Trofimov makes Ranevsky tearful with memories of her son’s drowning. Ranevsky’s brother Gayev complains about Ranevsky’s spending habits and loose morals, and he tells everyone he plans to borrow money to keep the property.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act One [Anya's exit to end of Act]
Act Two [beginning to Ranevsky's entrance]
Charlotte, Yasha, Dunyasha, and Yephikodov sit together. When Yephikodov asks to speak to Dunyasha in private, she demands he get her cape from the house first, and he leaves. Yasha smokes a cigar and kisses Dunyasha, and she confesses her love to him. When Yasha hears Ranevsky and others approaching, he asks Dunyasha to leave.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Two [beginning to Ranevsky's entrance]
Act Two [Ranevsky's entrance to Firs's entrance]
Lopakhin insults Ranevsky and Gayev’s lack of business sense and reminds them they are about to lose their property. Ranevsky expresses regret at her sins and tells Lopakhin about her lover who betrayed her and now sends telegrams asking her to return to Paris. Ranevsky asks Lopakhin why he doesn't marry Varya.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Two [Ranevsky's entrance to Firs's entrance]
Act Two [Firs's entrance to end of Act]
Trofimov exchanges some barbed words with Lopakhin, who calls him an eternal student. As Gayev talks about how nature unites the past with the present, they hear something breaking. After a drunken man appears and asks for directions and money, the group leaves. Staying behind, Trofimov and Anya discuss their close relationship and the debt Russia is under from the legacy of serfdom.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Two [Firs's entrance to end of Act]
Act Three [beginning until Varya exits to find Yephikodov]
Ranevsky worries about the estate auction. Ranevsky and Varya talk about how people tease her about Lopakhin and how he has not yet proposed. When Yasha enters and says Yephikodov has broken a pool cue, Varya, incensed, leaves to sort things out.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Three [beginning until Varya exits to find Yephikodov]
Act Three [Varya's exits to Vary's return]
Trofimov implores Ranevsky to face the truth about her business dealings and her lover in Paris, and she calls him a freak. Firs laments the declining quality of guests at the estate parties and exchanges insults with Yasha. Anya tells Ranevsky someone has bought the orchard.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Three [Varya's exits to Vary's return]
Act Three [Vary's return to end of Act]
Varya launches against Yephikodov, saying he does not work and threatening him away from the party. When Gayev and Lopakhin return from the auction, Gayev soon leaves upset, and Lopakhin reveals he has bought the orchard and intends to build cottages. He reproaches a tearful Ranevsky about not listening to his advice. Anya consoles her mother, saying they will plant a better cherry orchard.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Three [Vary's return to end of Act]
Act Four [beginning until Pischik's exit]
As the estate occupants prepare to leave, the sound of axes chopping down the orchard can be heard. After Gayev and Ranevsky say goodbye to some peasants, he reprimands her for giving the peasants her entire purse of money. Lopakhin and Trofimov admit their affection for each other but agree they will always have different outlooks on life. Anya asks Lopakhin, on behalf of Ranevsky, to hold off cutting down the orchard until the family has left.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Four [beginning until Pischik's exit]
Act Four [beginning to end of Act]
Ranevsky worries about Varya, who has been depressed since the estate was sold, and encourages Lopakhin to propose to her. Lopakhin only makes small talk to Varya and does not propose. Trofimov and Anya leave first, together, saying goodbye to their old life and welcoming a new one. Ranevsky and Gayev take one last look at their childhood home and depart. Firs enters and lies motionless on the couch. The play ends with the sound of an axe striking a tree.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act Four [beginning to end of Act]