English II H
9 April 2014
A Tragic Love Quadrangle: An Analysis of The Seagull
Based on his real life events and experiences, The Seagull is one of Anton Chekhov's most distinguished dramatic works. The play explores love, loss and despair. Despite the play’s classification as fiction, the event that served as the catalyst to Anton Chekhov’s dramatization actually took place. As Keith Neilson stated:
The Seagull was based on an event in Anton Chekhov’s life. One afternoon, while
he was taking a walk with his friend, Ilya Levitan, the landscape painter, he saw
Levitan shoot a seagull that was flying over the river. Later, the moody painter,
feeling scorned ...view middle of the document...
Nina explains that the “gulls” are drawn to the lake and treat it like a Bohemia. Bohemia is a historical kingdom in the present-day western Czech Republic that broke away and freed itself from Austrian rule in the 15th century. Bohemia sought freedom and independence. By calling the lake a Bohemia, the parallel implication is that the lake is a place where people can free themselves and find independence. Since the seagulls are drawn to the lake, their pilgrimage to the lake represents the seagulls’ independence and flight to freedom. Further, the seagull’s pursuit of freedom comes to a tragic end when the bird is shot and killed.
Another symbol the author employs in the play is the lake itself. The lake symbolizes a different meaning for each of the principle characters. For Treplev, the lake symbolizes the love he shares with Nina, which served as a life source. Treplev explains, “TREPLEV: Losing your love feels like the lake sunk into the ground.” (Anton Chekov) This quote serves as a simile for the loss of love Treplev shared with Nina and the loss of the life supporting, life flourishing lake. For Tirojin, the lake is a symbol of relaxation as he often goes there to fish.
Last, weather is yet another consistent symbol seen throughout The Seagull. The weather generally symbolizes the characters’ thoughts, the tone of the play, and provides an idea of what is about to happen. Before Nina goes to visit Treplev, the weather becomes stormy, foreshadowing that Nina visiting will strike turmoil. Storms usually occur due to a rapid change in temperature so when the author paints vivid imagery of a storm, he suggests or forecasts a change of tone or mood in the play.
Anton Chehkov’s clever use of foreshadowing by the changing weather is seen in the different acts. Not only does the weather set the tone of the play but it also serves to foreshadow future events. One event in particular would be when Tirojin says “The weather’s not being very kind, there’s a nasty wind” (Anton Chekov). This line foreshadows an unfortunate event such as Tirojin ruining Nina’s life. “These lines leave unsettling thoughts in the readers’ minds of unfortunate imminent events such as Trigorin ruining Nina’s life” (UK essays).
Among the many other foreshadowing symbols in The Seagull, the snuff box is another one. Masha says “Your loving me is all very touching, but I can’t love you back and that’s that [offers him a snuff box] Have some” (The Seagull). This quote foreshadows Masha and Medkenvidivo’s unrequited love in the play. In this quote, Masha tells him that she could never love him back but she does not dismiss him, she offers him a snuff to keep them both entertained. In the play Masha never loves Medkenvidivo but she ends up marrying him in order to change up her life and keep her from being bored. “This foreshadows the ubiquitous theme of unreciprocated love in the play” (UK essays). Lastly, the seagull is another foreshadowing symbol used in The...