Main Character Analysis Summary
Konstantin Treplev- Treplev is the son of Irina. He is very unsure of himself and always seems to need approval from his mother. His mother is also seeing a writer, Trigorin, who happens to be very successful. Treplev is threatened by this and puts a lot of pressure on himself. When his play is ill-perceived by his mother, he feels completely alienated from her. "You see, [my mother] doesn't love me, and why should she? She likes life and love and gay clothes, and I am already twenty-five years old; a sufficient reminder to her that she is no longer young" (The Seagull). He wants to be accepted by her, but she does not understand his ways and is very vain and only cares about her career and lover. He falls in love with Nina and she is unable to love him. She leaves and has an affair with Trigorin, Irina's lover. Treplev declares his love for her, but she is still incapable of loving him, so he commits suicide to fill the void.
Irina Arkadina- Irina is the mother of Treplev. She was a very famous and beautiful actress back in the day and is now passed her "five minutes of fame." She is very self serving and does not support her son. "What decadent rubbish is this?" (The Seagull). She says this about three minutes into her son's first play. As stated, she is extremely vain and when Treplev, her only son, becomes a published writer, she causally mentions she has never made an effort to read his stories like it is not a big deal. Her lover, Trigorin, is well to her until he says he is leaving her for Nina. Instead of acting indifferent like she does towards her son, she begs him not to go and though he does leave, he eventually comes back. She has glimpses of compassion, but not enough to be considered a good person, though she is neither hero nor villain.
Nin Zarechnaya- Assuming the title of this play comes from her line "I am a seagull" (The Seagull), she is an important character. Starting out as a naive actress falling in lust with all the wrong people, she grows the most during the play. She is incapable of loving Treplev how he wants her to, but she has an affair and love child with Trigorin. After he leaves her, she becomes a lot smarter but is still in love with Trigorin. She continues to compare herself to a seagull throughout the play, and though she is a bit confused, she reminds the audience about how every character deals with their disappointment in life. Nina chooses to live through her pain, while Treplev, who could not live without her, ends his own life.
Boris Trigorin- Trigorin is a famous and successful writer. Nina and Irina are in love with him in the whole play. Irina ends up keeping him, but as stated, he has an affair with Nina. He feels that he lost out on his youth due to fighting for his writing career and longs to feel young again, so he uses this as his excuse for cheating. "I seldom meet a young and pretty girl now; I can hardly remember how it feels to be nineteen, and the young girls in my books are seldom living characters" (The Seagull).
Chekhov uses the weather to set the tone for this play. When something is about to change severely, the weather is stormy and gloomy. It also reflects the characters deeper thoughts and foreshadows events. For example, when Nina comes back to the estate right before Treplev shoots himself, it's stormy and then she shows up.
The seagull, killed by Treplev and given to Nina as a representation of him, symbolizes destruction. It didn't start out that way. Nina described the seagull as the reason she was drawn to the estate and the lake, so it represented freedom and security. In Act III & IV, it represented destruction. Trigorin is awful towards Nina and leaves her, and she is a mess because of it. Treplev kills himself in honor of Nina, so the seagull also represents unhappiness at the hands of a loved one.
Suicide of Treplev
Treplev was a suicidal writer whose plays failed miserably. Ironically, Chekhov, although not suicidal, had a difficult childhood with an abusive father, and his plays were not well perceived at first. Although Chekhov couldn't have known he'd be an unsuccessful writer at first, he put a lot of himself into Treplev.
Exposition- The audience is introduced to the four main characters, Treplev, Irina, Nina, and Trigorin. It is also discovered that Treplev is a playwright, Nina is an actress, Irina is Treplev's mother and an actress, and Trigorin is Irina's lover and a successful writer. The Seagull takes place in a small town in Russia.
Rising Action- Treplev's play fails miserably and he gains no support or respect from his mother as he had wished. Nina and Trigorin slowly are falling in love, but Irina begs Trigorin to stay with her. Nina decides to move to Moscow to be near Trigorin.
Climax- Nina and Trigorin promise to meet up in Moscow. Treplev is heartbroken that Nina did not chose him. This creates a love triangle between the three of them.
Falling Action- Trigorin leaves Nina and their child dies. Nina is devastated as she is still in love with him. Irina may or may not know about the affair but is happy that Trigorin is more involved in their relationship. Treplev is still mourning that Nina is not with him.
Resolution- Irina and Trigorin stay together, and Nina follows her dreams and becomes a serious actress. Treplev finally becomes a published writer but is still depressed due to nonexistent his love life with Nina. He eventually commits suicide after professing his love to her, and Nina says she can never love him. The play ends with the other characters wondering where the gunshot came from and Dorn telling Trigorin that Treplev shot himself. "You must take Madame Arkadina away from here; what I wanted to say was, that Constantine has shot himself" (The Seagull).
Setting/ Time Period
The play takes place in Russia in about 1895, 19 years before WWI. There was political and social unrest due to hunger problems, high taxes, poor working conditions and an unstable government. Nicolas II, the current king, would be overthrown at the end of WWI.
A major theme is this play was evaluating one's life and then deciding what needed to be changed. This was also explored through the way each character dealt with disappointment. Nina put hers towards a successful career. Trigorin used his disappointment and wrote stories. Irina ignored her problems. Treplev chose to end his life. These all reflected what the characters thought their self worth was as well.
Death fascinated a few characters as they explored the meaning and immensity of death itself. Masha says "I am mourning for my life" (The Seagull) as she is speaking of the void in her life; Treplev does not love her. Most of the characters feel that life is worthless unless that one person does not love them, and this is why Treplev kills himself.
An excerpt of a performance of The Seagull (The Seagull).