The Seagull

by: Anton Chekhov

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

People's destinies are so different. Some people drag along, unnoticed and boring—they're all alike, and they're all unhappy. Then there are others, like for instance you—you're one in a million. You're happy—

Nina's world-view is seen in black and white. She divides people into two groups, those who create their destinies and those who allow life to shape their destiny. Filled with awe, she endows a creative life with happiness. Chekhov counterpoints this opinion with the unsatisfied Treplev who pursues an artistic life but who feels miserable and unsatisfied. Trigorin cannot be described as happy either. He takes little time to judge his life and as Arkadina says in Act One, he hates it when others try to talk about him. Chekhov also counterpoints Nina's statement about the unhappy people who aren't noticed in life. Though several characters in The Seagull who are not famous like Trigorin and Arkadina are unhappy such as Masha and Paulina. Dorn and Sorin critique their life and may have some regrets, but they are not unhappy. Dorn enjoys his popularity with the ladies and his retirement. Sorin enjoys the company of his loved ones. Shamrayev, though argumentative, takes pleasure in a good story and the company of Arkadina. Nina comes off as naive and impressionable because of her generalizations. Nina believes that if you live a life in which your dreams come true or your goals are achieved then you will be satisfied and happy. Trigorin refutes this idea by explaining that though he achieved acclaim, he never can finish his work, he always has more work to do and therefore, he is never happy or content. When one story is finished, it no longer matters to him and so he has to solve the problems of the next.

On the other hand, Nina's ideas about the two types of people, happy and unhappy are defended in part by Trigorin's blasé attitude toward his own life. He has achieved much and lives a life of privilege and confidence. Nina notes that Trigorin lacks perspective of his own privileges and luck. In this way, she is right, that Trigorin has much to be happy about but her argument becomes a classist view nonetheless, putting on a pedestal successful artists and intellectuals above all. Nina continues a debate started in the first scene of the play between Medvedenko and Masha. They argued with each other over what would make them happy. Masha chose true love and Medvedenko chose freedom from financial worries. Nina's version of the debate sheds light on the inexplicable and personal definition of happiness as an individual interpretation.