Although it is not considered to be one of Anton Chekhov’s greatest works, The Seagull is a play that raises a number of questions about society, delving into the aspects of human psychology that often lead to conflicts that we face, no matter what time period we are living in, or where on the globe. It is a great work unto itself, regardless of how it compares to other pieces of literature, even those in Chekhov’s own canon. Konstantin Treplev, arguably the main character of the play, is an aspiring writer who is in love with Nina. Nina, however, is in love with Trigorin, who has already proven successful as a writer, and Treplev feels that if he could just get published, Nina might fall in love with him. Thus begins the theme of unrequited love, dominant throughout this work. While Treplev longs for Nina, Masha is in love with Treplev, and, in turn, Medvedenko is in love with Masha. It is this chain of pain that will eventually lead to the downfall of all the characters. Meanwhile, Treplev’s mother, Arkadina, is an actress who is growing older, but longs to remain young and beautiful. Out of vanity, she ignores the problems that her son is facing, brags about her own beauty, and has an affair with the writer Trigorin.
Nina admires Arkadina for her success, as Nina wishes to become a famous actress as well. Nina finally gets her wish and has an affair with Trigorin. However, the dream is shortlived as Nina has a miscarriage, and Trigorin leaves her in order to return to Arkadina. Treplev has not given up on Nina, and because of this, Masha marries Medvedenko, even though she does not truly love him. Treplev predicts his own fate when he presents Nina with a dead seagull, saying that one day he shall do to himself what he has done to this bird. Nina also refers to herself as a seagull, never daring to stray too far from the water. The Seagull is a piece bursting at the seams with such symbolism, which Chekhov cleverly uses to foreshadow the plays ending, as well as to convey subliminal messages to his audience.