For WEM project, I will only work on the first and second level inquiries for this play. You can also check my Acts summaries to get a clearer picture of what it’s about. This post is the first level, the grammar stage.
What is the initial question or tension?
From the beginning of Act one the talks about the estate’s sale has been emerged, so I think it’s no longer whether it’s going to be sold, but rather: What will happen (to everyone) if the cherry orchard were sold in the auction?
Where is the point of greatest tension?
The greatest tension is in the party, when people are waiting for Gaev to get the confirmation of the auction’s outcome; of who finally gets the estate. There is a slight hope that Gaev—Lubov’s brother—might be able to buy it because an aunt has granted him the money. The tension is so intense here, because each of their faith will depend on the outcome.
Where does the play’s action reach its climax?
When Lopakhin is stating that it’s he who bought the estate. With this new fact, it is inevitable that Lubov and Gaev will be cut off from their root of history (representing by the cherry orchard), Varya’s life is ruined. She lost a job (she has been the estate’s manager), and probably lost chance to get a marriage proposal (I don’t think she would still want to marry Lopakhin—if he’d really propose—after he showed arrogance about buying the estate). On the other hand, Anya would be free to leave the cherry orchard which she did not love anymore, to marry Trofimov. So, everybody’s future is changed by this fact.
Where is the resolution?
In Act V, when the door is locked after everyone left the house (everyone except Fiers). Locking the door is like locking their previous life, and now they would emerge to a new future (still unknown to few people).
What holds the play’s action together?
Attachment with the past; how people used to irrationally let themselves bound to their past and refuse to let it go, to welcome a new era.