What is the play The Seagull about?

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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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