The Seagull

by

Anton Chekhov

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A middle-aged actress whose hunger for the fame and beauty of her youth have come to dominate her life. “Arkadina” is a stage name chosen to suggest the pastoral beauty of Arcadia, an ancient Greek vision of utopia—Arcadia was also the name of a “garish” amusement park in Moscow, and Arkadina’s name reflects both her idealized vision of herself and the true face of her ignorance, superiority, and even delusion. At the start of the play, Arkadina is carrying on an affair with Trigorin—a famous writer who is younger than her—much to the chagrin of her son Treplyov, who is both starved for his mother’s affection and attention and ashamed of her flamboyant ways. Arkadina is a jealous individual who, according to her son, doesn’t want to see anyone else enjoy success—especially on the stage. Arkadina ignores the emotional plight of her son throughout the play. She all but condones Trigorin’s slow destruction of Nina Zarechnaya, and remains emotionally detached from any issue that doesn’t directly involve her. Arkadina is desperate to be loved, adored, and even worshipped—she is jealous of her lover Trigorin’s fame and lives in constant fear of the idea that he might leave her for someone younger, more beautiful, and more talented. As Chekhov’s work in the late 1890s and early 1900s was written amidst the changing socioeconomic atmosphere that marked the waning days of tsarist Russia, Arkadina’s obsession with youth and the past may reflect larger Russian anxieties about the death of the leisure class, the languishing economy, and the censorship of the arts.

Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina Quotes in The Seagull

The The Seagull quotes below are all either spoken by Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina or refer to Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of The Seagull published in 2010.
Act 1 Quotes

TREPLYOV: New forms are what we need. New forms are what we need, and if there aren’t any, then we’re better off with nothing. (Looks at his watch.) I love my mother, love her deeply; but she smokes, drinks, lives openly with that novelist, her name constantly in the papers—it gets me down. Sometimes it’s just my plain human ego talking; it’s a shame my mother is a famous actress, because I think if she were an ordinary woman, I might be happier.

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

TREPLYOV: Are you excited?

NINA: Yes, very. Your Mama doesn’t count. I’m not afraid of her, but then there’s Trigorin… Acting with him in the audience frights and embarrasses me… A famous writer… Is he young?

TREPLYOV: Yes.

NINA: His stories are so wonderful!

TREPLYOV: (coldly) I wouldn’t know, I haven’t read them.

NINA: It isn’t easy to act in your play. There are no living characters in it.

Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

ARKADINA: Tell me, what’s the matter with my son? How come he’s so tiresome and surly? He spends whole days on the lake, and I almost never see him.

MASHA: He’s sick at heart. (To Nina, shyly.) Please, do recite something from his play!

NINA: (Shrugs.) You want me to? It’s so uninteresting!

Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

NINA: I thought that famous people were proud, inaccessible, that they despised the public and their own fame, their celebrity was a kind of revenge for blue blood and wealth being considered more respectable… But here they are crying, fishing, playing cards, laughing, and losing their tempers like anybody else…

Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

ARKADINA: Now I’ve got to go and I still don’t know how come Konstantin took a shot at himself. I suppose the main reason was jealousy, so the sooner I take Trigorin away from here, the better.

SORIN: How can I put this? There were other reasons too. Take my word for it, a man who’s young, intelligent, living in the country, in the sticks, with no money, no position, no future. Nothing to keep him occupied. Gets ashamed of himself and alarmed by his own idleness.

Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

ARKADINA: That’s jealousy. People with no talent but plenty of pretentions have nothing better to do than criticize really talented people. It’s a comfort to them, I’m sure!

TREPLYOV: (Sarcastically.) Really talented people! (Angrily.) I’m more talented than the lot of you put together, if it comes to that! (Tears the bandage off his head.) You dreary hacks hog the front-row seats in the arts and assume that the only legitimate and genuine things are what you do yourselves, so you suppress and stile the rest! […]

ARKADINA: Mr. Avant-garde!

[…]

TREPLYOV: You skinflint!

ARKADINA: You scarecrow! (TREPLYOV sits down and weeps quietly.) You nobody!

Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

ARKADINA: You want to do something reckless, but I won’t have it, I won’t let you… (Laughs.) You’re mine… You’re mine… […] You’re all mine. You’re so talented, clever, our greatest living writer, you’re Russia’s only hope… You’ve got so much sincerity, clarity, originality, wholesome humor... With a single stroke you can pinpoint the most vital feature in a person or a landscape, your characters are so alive. Oh, no one can read you without going into ecstasy! […] Am I lying? […] Do I look like a liar? There, you see, I’m the only one who knows how to appreciate you; I’m the only one who tells you the truth, my darling, marvelous man…

Related Characters: Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina (speaker), Boris Alekseevich Trigorin
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4 Quotes

DORN: Well, I have faith in Konstantin Gavrilovich. There’s something there! There’s something there! He thinks in images, his stories are colorful, striking, and I have a real fondness for them. […] Irina Nikolaevna, are you glad your son’s a writer?

ARKADINA: Imagine, I still haven’t read him. Never any time.

Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina Character Timeline in The Seagull

The timeline below shows where the character Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina appears in The Seagull. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Sorin asks Treplyov why his mother (and Sorin’s sister) Arkadina, a well-known actress, is in a bad mood. Treplyov dismissively replies that she’s “bored” in... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...and participate in certain conversations because other people “put up with [him] just because” he’s Arkadina’s son. (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
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Sorin interjects to ask Treplyov what he knows about Arkadina’s beau, the novelist Trigorin. Treplyov describes the man as “clever enough” and taciturn—in his late... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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...of knowing better due to his profession. She accuses him of being “so infatuated” with Arkadina that he exposes himself to rain and cold to be near her. All men, she... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Arkadina, Sorin, Trigorin, Shamraev, Medevenko, and Masha all arrive at the lake for the performance. Shamraev... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
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...explains that she represents the “universal soul” of “human consciousness” and “animal instinct” mingled together. Arkadina remarks, in a low voice, on the ostentatiously “avant-garde” nature of the play. Treplyov begs... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...battle left to fight—a struggle with Satan. Nina spots Satan approaching, and as she does, Arkadina remarks on a “stink of sulphur” overpowering the air—one of Yakov’s special effects. At this... (full context)
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Sorin chastises his sister for offending Treplyov. Arkadina replies that her son told her the play was a joke, so she treated it... (full context)
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Nina comes out from behind the stage and greets everyone warmly. Sorin and Arkadina congratulate her on her performance, and Arkadina tells her she has an “obligation” to become... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Nina says it’s time for her to go. Arkadina begs her to stay longer, and Sorin and the others follow suit, asking her to... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
...he has to see Nina. Masha finally catches up with Treplyov and tells him that Arkadina is asking after him. Treplyov tells her to tell Arkadina he’s gone out—and that no... (full context)
Act 2
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Later in the week, Arkadina, Dorn, and Masha are together on the croquet lawn at midday. It is bright and... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Arkadina picks up the book Sorin has been reading and begins reciting from its pages aloud.... (full context)
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...and stepmother are out of town—Nina is free for three whole days. Nina, ecstatic, embraces Arkadina and tells her she’s all hers. Nina asks what Arkadina is reading. Arkadina replies that... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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Arkadina asks where Treplyov is and why he’s so “surly” lately and spends all his time... (full context)
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Arkadina shakes Sorin awake—he has been snoring—and chides him for not taking better care of himself... (full context)
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Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Arkadina remarks how “boring” it is in the rural countryside. She’s sick of everyone philosophizing, and... (full context)
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Shamraev and Polina come down to the lawn. Arkadina suggests she and Polina go into town for a while, but Shamraev says that because... (full context)
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Nina chides Polina for refusing to give the “famous actress” Arkadina a horse to take into town, but Polina says there’s nothing she can do—there are... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
...picking flowers on the lawn—Dorn asks her how things are going inside. Nina reports that Arkadina is crying and Sorin is having an asthma attack. Dorn stands up to head inside... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
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...greets Trigorin excitedly. He looks up from his notebook and tells her that he and Arkadina are leaving today—he plainly states that he and Nina will probably “never see one another... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Arkadina’s voice rings out across the lawn, calling Trigorin in. Trigorin says he wishes he could... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Arkadina calls for Trigorin again—but shouts out to him that they’re going to stay after all.... (full context)
Act 3
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
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...drinking “openly,” and downs her shot quickly. Trigorin says he wishes he could stay, but Arkadina will never let him—now that Treplyov has tried and failed to kill himself, he wants... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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Arkadina and Sorin come into the dining room, and Arkadina asks if Nina has just left—and... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Sorin is planning on going into town, but Arkadina suggests he stay and rest for his health. Sorin argues the opposite—he’s been feeling “stale,”... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Sorin suggests Arkadina give Treplyov some money, but she says she has none to give. Sorin laughs at... (full context)
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Sorin says he’s about to faint and wobbles on his feet—Arkadina calls for help. Treplyov (with a bandage wrapped around his head) and Medvedenko rush into... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Arkadina and Treplyov are alone. Treplyov suggests Arkadina lend Sorin some money so that he can... (full context)
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As Arkadina cleans Treplyov’s head wound, he reminisces about his childhood days spent following Arkadina around at... (full context)
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Treplyov begs Arkadina to see how Trigorin has destroyed their own relationship—whilst “cultivating” Nina and basking in her... (full context)
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Treplyov confesses to Arkadina that he has “lost everything”—his drive to write, his beloved Nina, and indeed his “hope.”... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
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...“come and take it.” Having realized the depths of Nina’s devotion to him, he begs Arkadina to stay just one more day. She tells Trigorin that she knows what’s going on... (full context)
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Arkadina, now hysterical, laments her “old and ugly” face and kneels at Trigorin’s feet, begging him... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
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...the horses are ready to take them to the station. He makes small talk with Arkadina, asking her about a famous actor she might know, while Yakov, a cook, and a... (full context)
Act 4
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Sorin asks where Arkadina has gone, and Dorn answers that she’s gone to the station to meet Trigorin. Sorin... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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...child—but the baby died, and Trigorin fell out of love with her and returned to Arkadina, with whom he’d never officially severed ties. “Nina’s private life has not been a roaring... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Arkadina, Trigorin, and Shamraev all enter the drawing room, laughing and talking. Shamraev compliments Arkadina on... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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Arkadina and Polina set up a card table so that they can all play a lottery... (full context)
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Arkadina, Dorn, Masha, Polina, and Shamraev all play at a card table and discuss Treplyov’s career.... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
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...shot stuffed. Trigorin says he doesn’t remember any such thing. He wins the game, and Arkadina suggests they all go into the kitchen for a bite to eat. Treplyov says he's... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
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...to walk out the door—she keeps wondering about Trigorin, and whether he came here with Arkadina. She becomes lost in reminiscences of Trigorin, and then starts reciting haunting, mournful lines from... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Dorn and the others re-enter the room. Arkadina gaily sits down at the lotto table, seeming not to notice the disarray throughout the... (full context)
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The sound of a gunshot echoes offstage. Arkadina stands up and asks what’s happening—Dorn tells her not to worry, and goes out of... (full context)