Lybov Andreyevna in The Cherry Orchard

Lyubov Andreyevna stands for decadent old aristocracy on its last leg in the play, The Cherry Orchard. She is the owner of the cherry orchard. Though aristocracy is on the brink of coming to an end, she feels nostalgic for the past and is very ideal and tragically impractical.

Anton Chekhov(1860-1904)

The days of the aristocracy are gone, but she is still acting according to the system that is about to become history. She is guided by the ethos of the order that is fast departing so she is inviting her own ruin.

 She is an attractive widow, and the mother of two daughters. From the beginning of the play we come to know that she has returned from Paris having stayed five years in Paris with her lover who treated her miserably. Her Parisian lover made her economically bankrupt. As the play progress the reason for her arrival at her house becomes clear. She came to save the cherry Orchard, which is her childhood home. Though a widow, she is admired by everyone for her exceptional charm and loving nature. Despite this quality of exceptional beauty in her, there is a basic flaw in her. She does not know even the ABC of the value of money. To exaggerate the matter a bit, she does not know the difference between money and mud. She is prodigal, notoriously prodigal. She makes use of money carelessly and uselessly. She is guided by the principle that it is the noble duty of an aristocrat to help the poor, the needy and those who are in trouble. Driven by this privileged pride she helped the poor and the beggar even at the moment of her own economic destitution and bankruptcy. She is a very spendthrift woman. She has not money and is deep in debt but still has servants. When she goes to a restaurant she gives tips to waiters. She gives a lot to the beggars. When she hasn’t sufficient money for herself, she spends unnecessarily. Giving tips to beggars could show one as belonging to the upper-class, but her position is completely different. Though she is not rich in reality she doesn’t stop spending money like an aristocrat. It is shockingly impractical to see her do so. She hires a Jewish Orchestra for a ball even though she cannot afford to pay them. Because of her financial carelessness the cherry Orchard got lost.

She cannot adjust herself in the changed context. She is still behaving like a kind aristocrat though the power of aristocracy can bring nothing to her now. She gives loans to people when she herself is unable to pay back her debts. Selling the cherry orchard and paying the debts would be practical, but she is not prepared to do so. She dismissed even a practically qualified suggestion offered by Lopakhin. She is dismissive of Lopakhin's advice because she is too proud and aristocratic to share her property with foreigners.

 She will no longer enjoy the status of an aristocrat, but she is still running after the status of an aristocracy. Thus, her habits are very impractical and they will ultimately undo her.

It seems there is a dearth of reasonable sensibility in her. There is only loving nature and emotional vitality in her. She appears illogical and inconsistent in the entire series of her behavior and thoughts. When Lyubov hears that he has purchased her childhood home, she is totally devastated. She weeps for the loss of her childhood home and the passing of the aristocracy to the middle class. With no place to call home in Russia, she returns to Paris to take care of her lover, who has fallen ill. Before she departs, she shows her concern as a mother. She arranges for Anya, her younger daughter, to continue her studies in Russia and asks Lopakhin to marry Varya, her oldest daughter. She then sadly reminisces over her childhood in the cherry Orchard, and bids her home a final goodbye.

It is her unusual and uncommon pride and arrogance, which is accountable for the loss of the cherry Orchard. It seems Lyubov is not adaptive. She is too much under the spell of the past. She is not properly habituated to say yes to the present. Change is a curse to her. Her failure to accept change is the root cause of her tragic suffering.

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