The Seagull


Anton Chekhov

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Themes and Colors
Art vs. Fame Theme Icon
Unrequited Love Theme Icon
Ego and the Self Theme Icon
Mediocrity and Lost Potential Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Seagull, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Art vs. Fame

At the heart of The Seagull is the question of why writers write and why actors act: for artistic fulfillment, or in pursuit of fame? As the artistically-minded characters within the play—Arkadina, Trigorin, Treplyov, and Nina—navigate their competing desires for fame and fulfillment, Chekhov investigates the destructive nature of celebrity, ultimately arguing that the hollow pursuit of fame, glory, and renown will only end in misery.

All of the artist…

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Unrequited Love

One of the most prominent themes throughout Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull is that of unrequited love. When Arkadina and her family gather at her brother Sorin’s country estate for the summer, the atmosphere quickly fills with passion and longing—but as couples fall in and out of love, betray one another, and chase after those who don’t love them back, Chekhov explores what happens when feelings of lust and love are inconvenient, forbidden, or actively…

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Ego and the Self

In many ways, The Seagull is a deeply personal work—pieces of Chekhov himself seems to be refracted through many different characters, with the writers Trigorin and Treplyov excising Chekov’s complicated feelings about art and success while more minor characters like Sorin and Dorn, themselves similar to Chekhov in other eerie ways, mirror his anxieties about his failing health, his ambivalence towards the medical profession, and his fear of living a less-than-fulfilling life. In a…

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Mediocrity and Lost Potential

Many of the characters in The Seagull struggle with the gulf between their dreams for their lives and their careers, and the realities of what their circumstances actually look like. From the aging actress Arkadina to the struggling writer Treplyov to the idealistic—but ultimately doomed—Nina, Chekhov fills his tragicomedy with lost souls fighting against the mediocre reality of their lives. In exploring the sadness and shame that come along with failed or squandered…

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