Anton Chekhov: Chaika [The Seagull]

(2251 words)
  • John Reid (University of the West of England)

Both the title and the design of The Seagull are ironic. But those ironies can only be fully sensed when, as audience, we have experienced the kind of complex seeing that the play demands of us. The ruling spirit of the play is anti-idealist and anti-romantic. In particular, the pervasive tendency to idealise 'love', 'art' and 'vocation' is presented as an understandable, if destructive, aspect of human desire. Unfortunately, the latter way of putting it makes it sounds as if a moral is being squeezed out of the play, but, while the absurdity of human behaviour is brought home to the audience, there are no heroes or villains, and the urge to censor or blame is not of any immediate concern. The human carousel of unrequited lovers t…

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Reid, John. "Chaika". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 June 2002
[, accessed 26 November 2015.]