42 pages 1 hour read

Anton Chekhov

The Seagull

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1895

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Act I

Act Summaries & Analyses

Act I Summary

Content Warning: This play depicts an attempted suicide and a death by suicide. It also contains depictions of alcohol dependency and a brief mention of infant death.

The Seagull opens on the grounds of Sorin’s estate in the Russian countryside. Masha, the daughter of Polina and Shamraev (who work for Sorin) is speaking with Medvedenko, a local schoolteacher, about how unhappy she is about life. Medvedenko is upset that his love for Masha is unrequited, while not realizing that Masha is dealing with unreturned affections of her own. The two are waiting for the rest of the crowd to gather so they can watch a play that Sorin’s nephew, Konstantin, wrote, starring his lover, the young and lovely actress, Nina.

Sorin and Konstantin enter, and Sorin expresses his discontent with the country, even though he chooses to stay and live there. Konstantin distracts his uncle by pointing out the stage that has been constructed on the property: “Curtain—wings—then nothing but empty space—no scenery, sightlines straight to the lake and the horizon” (3). Sorin agrees that it is beautiful. They are waiting on Nina, who is late for the performance, to sneak out from under the watchful eyes of her father.