What are three examples of how realism is used in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull?Please relate to character, structure, and plot

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clearly a black comedy, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull is a departure from Chekhov's usual style in that he has many of the characters represent people from his own life. 

As a drama of realism, The Seagull exhibits the following:

"A Slice of Life" 

Critic Ryan D. Poquette states, the audience perceive the reality of life as they

peek through this imaginary wall and into a certain time period and situation in the characters' lives.

However, as in real life, there is no clear direction toward a climax, no real beginning, no definitive end. Instead, Chekhov presents a "slice of life," portraying realistically the self-focused actress Irina Abkadina, who is envious of Nina Zaryechny because of her youth and beauty; the aging Peter Sorin, who wrestles with his sense of the inevitability of death; the melancholic Mash Shramaiff, the tragic Boris Trigorin, who measures himself against greats like Tolstoy; the self-pitying Simon Mediedenko, the schoolmaster who would rediscover his youth in Nina.  In fact, Chekhov's characters do not reach self-fullfillment in life.

Realistic dialogue

The characters--none of whom are stars of the drama--discuss their situations using the same types of dialogue that audience members might use in their own lives.  For instance, Irina Abkadina prattles in the same manner that an egotistical star of the stage might use.  She demands the attention and adulation of those around her in Act II:


Stand beside me. You are twenty-two and I am almost twice your age. Tell me, Doctor, which of us is the younger looking?

You are, of course.


A Focus on Mood and Emotion

Realism, for Anton Chekhov, also focuses on mood and emotion among the characters. For example, at the beginning of Act III, the melancholic Masha speaks of Constantine with the author, Boris Trigorin:

I am telling you all these things because you write books and they may be useful to you. I tell you honestly, I should not have lived another day if he had wounded himself fatally. Yet I am courageous; I have decided to tear this love of mine out of my heart by the roots.

How will you do it?

By marrying Medviedenko.

The school-teacher?


I don't see the necessity for that.

Oh, if you knew what it is to love without hope for years and years, to wait for ever for something that will never come! I shall not marry for love, but marriage will at least be a change, and will bring new cares to deaden the memories of the past. Shall we have another drink?

Also, with reference to Chekhov's realistic illustrations of emotion, one critic also comments,

...one can nevertheless make the case that Chekhov intended The Seagull to be a statement on his literary ideas, specifically by using the character of Treplyov to show that a true symbolist could not survive in a modern society that was focused more and more on realism.

So, along with the moods of his characters, it seems Chekhov includes his own.