The Seagull

by

Anton Chekhov

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Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov Character Analysis

Arkadina’s son. A tortured young artist who is desperate to prove his talent to the world, Treplyov insists on bringing “new forms” to literature—but struggles to find the focus and insight he needs to do so in the face of his unrequited love for Nina Zarechnaya, his desperate need for his mother’s approval, and his Oedipal hatred of the famous writer Trigorin, his mother’s lover. Ultimately, it becomes evident that Treplyov, like all of the other main characters in the play, desires fame and success as an artist as a means to the love and adoration he feels is lacking in his personal life. While his quest for approval from his mother and from Nina brings him a small measure of professional success, it ultimately proves ruinous. Treplyov begins publishing stories under a penname and even earns a fanbase in Moscow, but feels that without Nina’s love, his life is worth nothing. Treplyov’s constant ploys for her attentions, from his slaughtering of a helpless gull by the lakeside to his botched suicide attempt to his ambitious but aimless writing career, never convince Nina to love him. It is this combination of unrequited love, empty artmaking, and realization of his own mediocrity that ultimately drives him to commit suicide by shooting himself in the play’s final moments.

Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov Quotes in The Seagull

The The Seagull quotes below are all either spoken by Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov or refer to Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov. 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:

TREPLYOV: (Enters bare-headed, carrying a rifle and a slain gull.) You’re alone here?

NINA: Alone. (TREPLYOV lays the gull at her feet.) What does this mean?

TREPLYOV: I did something nasty, I killed this gull today. I lay it at your feet.

NINA: What’s wrong with you? (Picks up the gull and stares at it.)

TREPLYOV: (After a pause) I’ll soon kill myself the very same way.

Related Characters: Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya (speaker), Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gull
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

TREPLYOV: You say you’re too ordinary to understand me. Oh, what’s there to understand? You didn’t like my play, you despise my ideas, you’ve started thinking of me as a mediocrity, a nobody, like all the rest… (Stamping his foot.) That’s something I understand, oh, I understand all right! There’s a kind of spike stuck in my brain, damn it and damn my vanity, which sucks my blood, sucks it like a snake…

Page Number: 110
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:
Act 4 Quotes

MASHA: It’s all nonsense. Unrequited love—that’s only in novels. Really silly. Just mustn’t lose control or go on waiting for something, waiting for your ship to come in… If love ever burrows into your heart, you’ve got to get rid of it. They’ve just promised to transfer my husband to another school district. Once we’ve moved there—I’ll forget all about it… I’ll rip it out of my heart by the roots.

Page Number: 140-141
Explanation and Analysis:

TREPLYOV: [Nina] made her debut outside Moscow at a summer theater, then toured the provinces. In those days I was keeping track of her and for a while wherever she was, I was there too. She would tackle the big roles, but her acting was crude, tasteless, her voice singsong and her gestures wooden. There were moments when she showed some talent at screaming or dying, but they were only moments.

Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

SHAMRAEV: (To Trigorin.) Hey, Boris Alekseevich, that thing of yours is still here.

TRIGORIN: What thing?

SHAMRAEV: A while back Konstantin Gavrilovich shot a gull, and you asked me to have it stuffed.

TRIGORIN: Don’t remember. (Thinking about it.) Don’t remember!

Related Symbols: The Gull
Page Number: 153-154
Explanation and Analysis:

NINA: And so, now you’re a writer. You’re a writer, I’m an actress… We’ve both fallen into the maelstrom… I used to live joyously, like a child—wake up in the morning and start to sing; I loved you, dreamed of fame, and now? First thing tomorrow morning I go to Yelets, third class… traveling with peasants… […] A sordid kind of life!

Page Number: 157-158
Explanation and Analysis:

NINA: You can’t imagine what that’s like, when you realize your acting is terrible. I’m a gull. No, that’s wrong… Remember when you shot down a gull? By chance a man comes along, sees, and with nothing better to do destroys… Subject for a short story. That’s wrong… (Rubs her forehead.) What was I saying?... I was talking about the stage. I’m not like that now… Now I’m a real actress… […] Now I know, understand, Kostya, that in our work—it doesn’t matter whether we act or we write—the main thing isn’t fame, glamour, the things I dreamed about, it’s knowing how to endure.

Related Symbols: The Gull
Page Number: 159-160
Explanation and Analysis:
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Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov Character Timeline in The Seagull

The timeline below shows where the character Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov appears in The Seagull. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
As Masha and Medvedenko approach the stage, Medvedenko tells Masha that Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov, Sorin’s nephew, has written a play for his beloved Nina Zarechnaya to act in—the two... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Sorin and Treplyov walk down towards the stage area—Sorin, a frail older man, uses a walking stick. He... (full context)
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.... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Treplyov, however, is now on a tear about his mother’s mercurial, hypocritical, narcissistic tendencies. Treplyov believes... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Sorin interjects to ask Treplyov what he knows about Arkadina’s beau, the novelist Trigorin. Treplyov describes the man as “clever... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Treplyov is overcome by emotion as he hears Nina approaching—“even the sound of her footsteps,” he... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Yakov is coming back up from the lake, and Treplyov asks him if all the special effects are ready for the performance. Yakov confirms that... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
...are discussing the declining state of Russian theater. At the sound of his mother’s voice, Treplyov comes out from behind the stage. In a booming voice, he calls out to the... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...together. Arkadina remarks, in a low voice, on the ostentatiously “avant-garde” nature of the play. Treplyov begs his mother to be quiet.  (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...At this point, Arkadina and the others begin to poke fun at the play, and Treplyov, embarrassed and angry, calls for its end, instructing Yakov to lower the curtain before storming... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Sorin chastises his sister for offending Treplyov. Arkadina replies that her son told her the play was a joke, so she treated... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Trigorin speaks up to defend Treplyov, stating that “everyone writes the way […] he can.” As the others begin debating the... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...tells him that she’s read all of his work, and then asks whether he thought Treplyov’s play was “strange.” Trigorin says he didn’t understand a single word of it—but enjoyed Nina’s... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Dorn, alone, says to himself that he really enjoyed the play. He spots Treplyov and resolves to tell the young man how much he liked his work. Treplyov enters... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Treplyov asks where Nina went, and Dorn tells him that she left for home. Treplyov despairingly... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
...verge of “wreck[ing]” her life—she is in terrible pain because of how much she loves Treplyov. She lays her head on Dorn’s chest and sobs. Dorn comforts her, remarking on how... (full context)
Act 2
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Arkadina asks where Treplyov is and why he’s so “surly” lately and spends all his time down at the... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Treplyov approaches Nina, “carrying a rifle and a slain gull.” After confirming that Nina is alone,... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Treplyov says he believes Nina stopped loving him the night of his “fiasco” of a play—he... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...the dead gull on the ground and asks what it’s doing there. Nina replies that Treplyov killed it. Trigorin takes out his notebook and jots down an idea for a short... (full context)
Act 3
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...a very drunk Masha stands nearby and talks to him. She tells him that if Treplyov had “wounded himself seriously,” she would have killed herself. She vows to “rip [her love]... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Masha replies that Treplyov is surely jealous of Trigorin—a predicament she can understand. She tells Trigorin that she’s marrying... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...rejuvenate him. Arkadina asks Sorin once more to stay home and “keep an eye” on Treplyov. Arkadina is anxious that she has to depart so soon after her son “took a... (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 her, and... (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 the room, but by... (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 get out... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
As Arkadina cleans Treplyov’s head wound, he reminisces about his childhood days spent following Arkadina around at the National... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Treplyov begs Arkadina to see how Trigorin has destroyed their own relationship—whilst “cultivating” Nina and basking... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Treplyov confesses to Arkadina that he has “lost everything”—his drive to write, his beloved Nina, and... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
...and Yakov, she asks where her son has gone—but doesn’t put any effort into finding Treplyov or even calling for him before she exits with her coterie, leaving the stage bare. (full context)
Act 4
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Two years have passed since the end of act three. Treplyov has turned a drawing-room in Sorin’s house into an office, and it is covered in... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
...her and begs her to come home soon—Masha drolly states that she’ll come home tomorrow. Treplyov and Polina enter, carrying sheets and bedclothes. Polina begins setting up a bed on a... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Polina wanders over to Treplyov’s desk and looks at one of his manuscripts. She tells him nobody ever imagined he’d... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
The sound of Treplyov playing violin in the next room comes through the door. Masha begins swaying to the... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...getting married, and living in town. Dorn urges Sorin not to complain about his life. Treplyov comes back into the room and sits near Sorin. Masha stares at Treplyov, unable to... (full context)
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Dorn asks Treplyov where Nina Zarechnaya has gotten to these days—he’s heard she’s living “a rather peculiar life.”... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
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Dorn asks how the stage has treated her, and Treplyov replies that Nina hasn’t had any luck as an actress, either. For a while, he... (full context)
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Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Treplyov reveals that Nina is back in town, staying at a hotel near the railway. She... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
...compliments Arkadina on her youthful appearance after all these years. Trigorin greets Masha and then Treplyov, asking whether Treplyov has renounced his “grudge.” Treplyov, in response, shakes Trigorin’s hand. Arkadina tells... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
...leaving for real this time. Arkadina asks Trigorin to come over and play the lotto. Treplyov looks through the magazine Trigorin has brought—both of them have stories printed in it, and... (full context)
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Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Arkadina, Dorn, Masha, Polina, and Shamraev all play at a card table and discuss Treplyov’s career. Polina and Shamraev say he must be depressed because of some poor reviews he’s... (full context)
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
Treplyov comes back into the room and goes to his desk. Shamraev tells Trigorin that a... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
There is a knock at the window, and Treplyov goes over to it, but can’t see outside. He goes out to the veranda, and... (full context)
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Nina looks around the room, remarking upon how it’s changed. She asks Treplyov if he thinks she has changed, too—he says that she’s lost weight. He asks why... (full context)
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Nina’s speech grows frenzied, and she urges Treplyov to sit so that they can “talk and talk.” She asks if he can hear... (full context)
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Treplyov says that, though he told himself he hated Nina, he has never stopped loving her—he... (full context)
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Nina tells Treplyov that he shouldn’t love her—she believes she “should be killed.” She begins rambling and babbling... (full context)
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Nina continues babbling, telling Treplyov that she has realized that in real art, fame doesn’t matter—endurance does. She resolves to... (full context)
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Nina tells Treplyov she’s going to leave, and asks him to come find her in the city once... (full context)
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...Once they’re out of Arkadina’s earshot, Dorn quietly tells Trigorin to take her “away from here"—Treplyov, he says, has indeed shot himself. (full context)