Monday, February 14, 2011

The Seagull - Anton Chekhov


   It was Saturday afternoon and I was in a mood for some leisure reading. My friend C was working in the college library. C is a business management student with a soft side for English literature and the idea of love and romance. The latter is so dearly cherished and defended by her that the reality of the idea itself is discriminated to the highest degree at times!

   I decide to join her. I find her browsing through some magazines in a partially lit corner with the backdrop of fat stern looking hardcover books. It was good to see her. I manage to startle her by appearing before her suddenly. We update each other regarding our respective day and exchange a few stories and tittle-tattles! She gets back to her reading while I go hunting for a good book.

   Nothing grabs my attention for a while. I come to a section which seems to be dedicated to plays and drama. I come across a book titled “A Doll’s House and other stories”. Having liked the former I decided to pick this book. I browsed through a few stories inside and finally zeroed down to Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull”.

   The story managed to capture my interest right at the beginning and hold on to it until the very end. The story revolves around a number of varied characters but the main plot unfolds due the actions of four main characters Madame Akardin, a self obsessed actress, Treplev her son, Nina his love interest and Trigorin, a renowned author and Madame Akardin’s new flame.

    I will write a brief introduction about them from the point of view of a close observer .
    Treplev has never been acknowledged by anyone for his talents as a writer. He was talented but he never fully appreciated it due to his lack of self esteem. The people around him knew him as the son of the great actress Madame Akardin, but they never saw him in any other light than that of a shadow of Madame A. Even though the script written by him for his play was extremely deep and meaningful the people watching it including his mother  could not bring themselves to take it seriously as they never really took Treplev seriously. They abolished it as unintelligent  and absurd.Treplev realises that his love for his mother is only a kind of desperate attempt to prove his worthiness in her eyes. He loathes the world and appears as a self involved person during most of the play. The only person who he loves dearly is Nina who recognises his writing talent and agrees to act in his play. He proves his true love for her by shooting a seagull and laying it at her feet. This is the most significant part of the play as it leads us to the title of the play. Treplev is seen telling Nina that his love for her is so deep that he would always be ready to fall at her feet like this dead seagull. Nina is moved by this gesture and keeps the seagull with her. But she is shown to drift away from Treplev when she is lured by the smooth talking Trigorin. This eventually leads to her running away to be with Trigorin.

   In the meantime several changes occur and Treplev’s work is finally recognised and he achieves fame. Masha, Treplev’s steward’s daughter is shown to have deep affetions for him. But these are disregarded by Treplev, who is hitherto in love with Nina.

    One day Nina arrives at Treplev’s chamber to meet him. She says that she is now an actress though not as successful as Treplev. She lets him know that she has left Trigorin long ago as she could not put up with his frivolous personality. Treplev is elated at the sight of her and all his abhorrence against her vanishes and he admits that he never fell out of love for her. When she reciprocates his feeling he asks her to marry him. But she refuses. The reason behind this refusal is unclear. It may be because of Nina’s cowardice to stand up to Treplev’s mother or because of her doubtfulness of her own feelings. She has always considered herself a drifter and still didn’t know what she wanted from life. She apologises and goes away, leaving behind a startled and wounded Treplev behind. This action finally results in Treplev shooting himself. Thus the state of Treplev is just the same like the dead seagull. 

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