42 pages 1 hour read

Anton Chekhov

The Seagull

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1895

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Symbols & Motifs

The Seagull

The literal story of the seagull in the play, which inspires Trigorin to write a fictionalized version of it, is a metaphor for Nina’s character arc. It symbolizes her transformation from a beautiful, free spirit living by the lake to a woman destroyed by a man out of boredom. The parallel is drawn between the two from Nina’s first appearance. One of her first lines in the play is to Konstantin, when she tells him her father and his wife refuse to allow her to visit Sorin’s estate. She says, “They’re terrified I’ll go on the stage. But I’m drawn here like a seagull drawn to the lake” (7, emphasis added). From the beginning, there is a sense of curiosity and an overshadowing presence of impending danger that is coming her way.

Later, Nina sneaks away for longer and is relieved of the fear of being caught. Sorin teases her, saying, “We’re all smiles because Papa and Stepmama have gone away and we are now free as a bird for three whole days” (23). It is during this time when Nina is “free” that she becomes enchanted with Trigorin and loses interest in Konstantin.