Analysis of Act I in Chekhov's The Seagull: Theme of Suffering
Have you ever wished for something and didn't get it? This kind of wishfulness is prevalent
throughout Act I of Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull. Through his use of dialogue, relationships
between characters, and setting, Chekhov creates a theme of suffering and self-imprisonment within
many of his characters as they long for the unattainable.
The way Chekhov chooses his speech between characters is an important method in relaying the
message of internal suffering. Many of the characters give up trying to convince another of an idea,
therefore showing no end or resolvement to their torment. For example, Masha begins to explain to
Medvedenko why she feels the ways she does saying "All you ever do is philosophize or talk about
money. The way you think, there's nothing worse than being poor, but I think it's a thousand times
easier to wear rags and beg in the streets than...." when she abruptly stops her explanation by saying
"Oh well, you wouldn't understand" (Chekhov 137). Telling Medvedenko he wouldn't understand is in
fact ironic since he actually has the same problem of unrequited love that she does, but her willingness
to give up the explanation further shows their internal struggle.
Similar to Masha's and Medvedenko's unresolved problem, Act I is full of many other
unresolved problems and avoided private conversations. Sorin eventually gives up trying to convince
Treplyov that his mother does not hate him by suddenly changing the subject to talk about Trigorin, and
then about his own unresolved problems of never marrying or becoming an author. Treplyov, in turn,
never gives him any comfort due to hearing Nina's approaching footsteps (Chekhov 140-141). Treplyov
also completely gives up on trying to continue his play. After getting on to his mother for ruining it,
Treplyov "wants to say something more, but waves his hand dismissively and exits left" (Chekhov
145). Even though...