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The Seagull

Anton Chekhov

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplev  -  One of the play's four protagonists, Treplev is Arkadina's only son. He struggles to find his voice as a writer in the shadow of his successful actress mother and her lover, the writer Trigorin, both of whom are members of the elite Russian intelligensia and artistic community. Treplev is impatient, self- defeating and childish. His need for love and approval torments him. He attempts to create new forms in dramatic writing and literature that reflect the new wave of symbolist writing that emerged in Russia during Chekhov's time. His writing parodies Chekhov's own work. Treplev is a dreamer and a compassionate soul who fills the void of affection in his life with self-doubt.
Irina Nikolayevna Arkadina  -  Arkadina, a protagonist of The Seagull is a renowned Russian actress who stars in grand, melodramatic plays. She is the mother of Treplev, the lover of Trigorin, and the sister of Sorin. Her arrival at Sorin's country estate is the highlight of the year for the workers there and her family. She is a member of the intelligensia and artistic community in Russia to which her son, Treplev longs to belong. Stubborn, vain, stingy, and beautiful, Arkadina is a selfish mother and doting lover. She loves attention and is not afraid to ask for it. Her competitive spirit selfishly discourages Treplev's creative spirit and contirbutes to her obsession with looking and feeling young.
Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya  -  Nina is a nineteen-year-old neighbor of Sorin's estate who grew up in an estate bordering the same lake that acts as a backdrop for the play. She is one of the four protagonists of the play. Nina's mother died when she was young and left her fortune to her husband, Nina's father, without leaving any inheritance for Nina. Her father remarried and put all of the money in her stepmother's name, contributing to Nina's insecure future. The play characters talk about how cruel Nina's father is to her and how Nina can only be in the company of Sorin's family when her father and stepmother do not know she is in their company. Nina is in love with Treplev or perhaps in love with the idea that Treplev can bring her close to his mother, an actress, which is what Nina wants to become. Naïve, smart, idealistic, and willing to take risks, Nina is a hopeless romantic who longs for a stage career. Her pursuit of Trigorin's heart reveals her overestimated innocence by those around her and her ambitious side.
Boris Alexeyevich Trigorin  -  Arkadina's lover, Trigorin, one of the four protagonists, is an esteemed Russian writer of fiction stories and novels. Like Arkadina, Trigorin is a member of the the elite Russian intelligensia and artistic community. He begins as a dutiful lover to Arkadina but becomes tempted by the youthful beauty, optimism, and flattery of Nina. Trigorin's favorite hobby is fishing. He is an obsessive- compulsive writer and somewhat aloof to the family and friends on the estate, preferring to observe the surroundings for details for his stories or fishing in the lake than gossiping, bragging, philosophizing, or playing parlor games. Trigorin feels that he lost out on his youth and on youthful romantic experiences because he was so busy trying to seek out a writing career for himself in those days. He uses this as an excuse for having the affair with Nina. Trigorin is not directly competitive with the jealous Treplev, but does not encourage him either. Trigorin often seems like a reluctant but acquiescing member of the clan.
Sorin  -  Sorin is the sixty-year-old landowner of the estate where the play takes place. He spent his life working for a government office and retired to his country farm. Sorin is the brother of Arkadina and the uncle to Treplev. His health deteriorates during the course of the play. Sorin is a patient listener, a confidant, and a compassionate admirer of both his nephew and sister's talents. He is disappointed with his life's decisions its outcome; he once wished to find love and be a successful writer and never acquired either wish. Sorin sees himself in the young Treplev and asks his sister Arkadina to be easier on Treplev's vulnerable confidence. Sorin can be wistful, nostalgic and wise.
Yevgeny Sergeyevich Dorn  -  Dorn is a local doctor who was once a popular and handsome ladies' man. Dorn often provides an outsider's perspective to the play for he functions almost as an audience member on stage. He is less vital to the desires and distresses on stage, but he is important as a fluid observer and commentator, confidant, and witness to the events. He has known Arkadina, Sorin, and the rest for many years. Dorn has affections for Paulina but does not seem to be in love with her. Like Sorin, Dorn is a compassionate presence who respects Treplev's talent and attempts to soften the blow of Arkadina's ego on her depressed son, Treplev's, spirit.
Masha  -  Masha is the daughter of Paulina and Shamrayev, the managers of Sorin's farm. She wears all black all of the time because she is depressed and hates her life. A heavy drinker and snuff addict, Masha's repressed, unrequited feelings for Treplev torment her. She is pursued by the poor schoolteacher, Medvedenko, who has a mediocre, obsequious personality, which complicates the situation. Masha is critical and unsympathetic to her admirer, Medvedenko even though she herself is in his same, unrequited position in her love triangle with Treplev. She feels sorry for herself and her undramatic life. Masha marries Medvedenko but keeps her love for Treplev burning strong. Like many Chekhovian characters, Masha gives in to the disappointments in life and accepts them, surviving the unfulfilled dreams with the hope of change and renewal in moving and forgetting.
Ilya Afanasyevich Shamrayev -  Shamrayev is father to Masha and husband to Paulina. He acts as the manager of Sorin's farm and household year round. Shamrayev adores Arkadina's fame and fortune and close ties to Russian artists. He flatters her and attentively listens to her boasts and the details of her life in the theatre. But when it comes to the horses and running the farm, Shamrayev is argumentative about his control. He is cruel and unsympathetic to his daughter's admirer and later, husband, Medvedenko, and unattentive and embarrsassing to his wife, Paulina.
Semyon Semyonovich Medvedenko  -  Medvedenko is a local schoolteacher who is poor and must support his family at home while later supporting his new family with Masha. He is a boring conversationalist because he spends most of his time complaining about his poverty. Medvedenko pursues the melancholy Masha, eventually winning her hand in marriage, out of convenience and a hope of change, not love.
Paulina Andryevna  -  Paulina is the mother of Masha and the wife of Shamrayev, who mages Sorin's estate. Unhappy in her loveless marriage, she is often embarrassed by Shamrayev's arguments with the Arkadina, their employer's famous sister. She loves Dorn but is jealous and unsatisfied by his aloof affection for her. Paulina sees her own misery in her daughter, Masha's unrequited love for Treplev and compromising marriage to Medvedenko, that she encourages Treplev to pay attention to Masha out of pity.
Yakov -  A hired workman.
The Cook  -  A worker on Sorin's estate.
The Maid  -  A worker on Sorin's estate.
The Watchman  -  A worker on Sorin's estate who carries a warning stick at night.

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