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 by the woman he loved, threw the dead seagull at her feet and
threatened to kill himself. (Keith Neilson)
After experiencing such a striking event, Chekhov used this incident as a canvas for his fictional work, The Seagull. In Chekhov’s four act play, he employed various literary elements to explore the lives of his four main characters Arkadina, Trigorin, Nina, and Konstantin. Specifically, Chehkov manifests his theme of unrequited love through various literary elements such as symbolism, foreshadowing and motifs. These elements portray how unrequited love can ruin a person's life.
Unrequited love is the constant underlying theme of the play and Chekov displays it clearly using symbolism. The most powerful symbol Anton Chehkov uses throughout his play is the “seagull”. The seagull, like the lives of the four principle characters, transitions throughout the entire work subtly bringing the characters to life. Initially, the seagull symbolizes the pursuit of freedom and independence. “NINA: My father and his wife never will let me come here; they call this place Bohemia and are afra...
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...nrequited love for another man, Dorn, and is married to a man she does not love, Shamrayev.
Anton Chekov’s play, The Seagull, uses the literary elements of symbolism, foreshadowing and motifs to convey the theme of the complexities of love. This theme allows the reader to understand different versions of love such as expressive love and unrequited love so the reader can relate more to the play. “The deviations from traditional techniques are not merely novel stage gimmicks, however, but reflect Chekhov’s basic dramatic and thematic purposes. He was not interested in theatrical action or excitement as such, but in the effects such incidents have on his people. Reality, he felt, does not consist of a series of dramatic climaxes but is, rather, a mundane process of day-to-day living in which the crucial events happen unobtrusively in the background” (Keith Neilson).
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