My Prior Posts on Chekhov
The Cherry Orchard is the last of Anton Chekhov's (1860 to 1904-Russia) plays and in fact one of his very last works. Many regard it as among his best work. I first heard of it many years ago when I read as a teenager The Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman. I have posted a number of times on Chekhov so I will be quite brief in my comments on The Cherry Orchard.
When the widow arrives back on her estate she finds a very bad situation. It is about to be sold at public auction for unpaid debts. A former serf on the estate, now a successful merchant devises a plan, and it sounded like a very good one to me. Sell of parcels of the estate for the construction of houses or summer cottages. This will allow all the debts to be paid and the family to stay on the estate. The only problem is the cherry orchard must be cut down. The widow will not allow this.
In the final act, the former surf is jubilantly announcing that he has bought the estate on which is father, grandfather and himself were once serfs, little more than slaves. The family has no real idea what they will do other than perhaps live with relatives.
The Cherry Orchard is about a society in transition. The old order is crumbling and in clinging to the past which allow it to be destroyed.
Historically, serfs were freed in 1861. Serfs were allowed to become merchants and a new class began to arise. Once many estate owners lost their free labor of the serfs, they could no longer run run them at a profit.
The Cherry Orchard is very well worth reading. It is a canon status work for sure. You can easily find it online.
I hope to read Three Sisters soon.