What is the play The Seagull all about?

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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chekhov’s realistic play The Seagull is a brilliant comment on the change in theatre that was happening at the time, from romanticism to realism.  The young playwright Treplyov’s play, put on for his traditional audience, including his mother Irina Arkadina, herself a theatre personality of the old school, suffers the same criticism as Chekhov’s plays suffered, because they were “not what the audience expected.”  The play’s plot complications are variations on the idea of unrequited love, inappropriate love, misplaced love, etc.  Treplyov himself sees the word in symbolic terms rather in realistic, socialistic, or psychologically cogent terms, just as his little playlet “dramatizes” the situations around him.  Scholars, especially biographers, compare Chekhov’s early dramatic struggles with Realism (his career is divided by a period of writing short stories, a parallel to Trepylyov's stopping the play when his mother criticized it, and storming off the premises) with the characters in The Seagull.  So the play is "about" the struggles of an artist when he seeks approval of new forms, from those whose respect and admiration he seeks.

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sesh | Student

The Seagull is all about art and artistic conflicts. The drama shows the messed up lives of middle class Russians by the virtue of a play within a play. Trepliov who wants to invent new forms of art, attemps to show his talents to his mother but unfortunately, she only sees it as a persnal attack of her tradition. Most of the characters lives are combined with art (Arkadina, trepliov, Trigorin,Nina) and even the minor characters like Dr. Dorn comments on Treliov's play, implying he too is a fan of this art. Even Sorin, another minor character has had a dream to become even a minor writer. Shamrayev too once says he's attached to the older forms of art. So everything is linked with art.

When it comes to the tragedy of Nina, the cause for this too is art. Her desire to be an actress invites her destruction. She is infatuated with fame. Arkadina too is highly affected by this.

"How little you know about yourself! This forehead, these cheeks are mine"

She too is attached to Trigorin's fame so does Nina who beleives his life to be "radiant and beautiful". Masha too comments on the talents of the brooding writer Trepliove, saying his melancholis voice is very much suitable for reciting poems.

So the lives of almost everyone is linked with this "art", undoubtedly the play is all about artistic conflicts.

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The Seagull

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