Have you ever heard the phrase, 'Do you know the genius who is stuffed?' This famous statement is the first sentence of the novel 'Wings' by the author Lee Sang. According to him, he wrote it inspired by the play “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov. There are also many dramatizations such as operas, plays, movies, and webtoons, which proves its popularity and literary value. If you are interested in a play and performance, you must have heard of this play at least once. Then, what kind of charm does "The Seagull" have, a play that has been constantly performed since its premiere in St. Petersburg in 1896?
Before introducing the play “The Seagull”, I am going to explain the original play 'The Seagull' by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. First, Anton Chekhov is well-known for his plays, and is characterized by such deep works that there was a saying among aspiring Russian theater actors, "You have to dig deeper than Shakespeare's work to be recognized." He mainly described human life objectively and the characters' behavior or thinking variously in his work. In particular “The Seagull”, the play I will introduce in this article, seems to focus on the characters' life more than the plot.
Next, I am going to explain the content of “The Seagull”. The original version of the play and the play directed by Lee Soon-Jae have the same plot that describes tragic love between Treplev who wants to succeed with a new form of writing and play and Nina who wants to be an actress. It is composed of four acts. The total number of characters is thirteen, but I will describe the four main characters, Arkadina, Treplev, Trigorin, and Nina, and about the symbolism of 'the seagull', which is also the title of the play. In the first act, the son 'Treplev' of a famous actress 'Arkadina' performs his own play in front of his family. The main character of the play is Nina, and Arkadina feels aversion to the new form of play different from the prior. Although the play is performed, Arkadina talks loudly and ignores the play. So, Treplev gets angry and goes away after stopping his play. Meanwhile, Nina is introduced to Trigorin, the famous author who Nina respects usually.
The second act is important because the seagull appears. Treplev hunts the seagull and comes back with it, and Nina pretends that she greets him, but he leaves the seagull on the bench and flees from her since he was upset with Trigorin. Nina encounters Trigorin and tell him that she yearns for him and wants to be an actress in the meantime, and Trigorin expresses his painful feeling of creating and mapping out a new novel after listening to her. The plot of the new novel is that 'A woman being free like seagull is destroyed by a man', inspired by the seagull Treplev hunted.
We need to pay attention to the relationship between the four characters in the third act. As Nina, Treplev's lover begins to love Trigorin, Treplev attempts suicide with a gun. But he fails to die because the bullet only grazed his temple, because of this incident, Arkadina is so shocked that she collapses for a moment. Therefore, the relationship between Treplev and Arkadina, and Treplev and Trigorin becomes worse. However, Treplev first gives her a hand of reconciliation asking Arkadina to change the bandage on his head, then has a deep conversation, and soon reconciles, although there are some conflicts. After some time, Arkadina and Trigorin decide to go to Moscow and Trigorin meets Nina while taking his load promises a reunion with her, and leaves after kissing.
The fourth act takes place around two years later. While Triplev became a novelist and Trigorin came back to becoming a successful author in Moscow, Nina became an unpopular actress who failed to succeed. Even when the illegitimate child died, Trigorin went back to Arkadina, and Nina is in a mentally painful state. While the family including Arkadina and Trigorin are enjoying a card game in another room, Treplev faces Nina. Treplev whole-heartedly confesses his love for Nina, and Nina says, 'I can't love you or be loved by you.', I'm a seagull. I don't suffer because I have faith. When I think of my calling, I'm not afraid of life,' she says confused. After Nina leaves, Treplev who is very frustrated commits suicide by shooting himself in the head with a gun, and doctor Dorn who notices Treplev's suicide after hearing the gunfire, reassures all his family, saying that his medicine bottle seems to be exploded. However, Dorn tells Trigorin about the suicide of Treplev immediately, and Trigorin is totally shocked. And the play ends.
The 'seagull' has a symbolic meaning in this play. As the review suggests that the audience must think a lot after watching it says, there are many interpret of the symbolism of the seagull. The most likely interpretation is that the seagull symbolizes Nina. As shown directly in Nina's line "I'm a seagull," she compares herself to a seagull. Seagull is a bird flying freely, but it was killed by Treplev. Nina was a pure, bright, and free spirit at the beginning of the play, but she was destroyed by exhaustion and it resembles a seagull. Also, we can find evidence identifying Nina and a seagull in the content of the novel that Trigorin conceived inspired by the seagull haunted by Treplev. The novel describes an 'a woman who was free but devastated by a man' If I express Nina's life in one sentence, it will be a plot of Trigorin. In addition, there are various interpretations that the seagull symbolizes Treplev or someone's dream or longing instead of a certain character. Through this, we get to know that the play 'The Seagull' is not the play just for entertainment, but the fine play leading the audience to think a lot.
So far, I have talked about the plot and interpretation of the play “The Seagull” It is the play that shows the outstanding quality of work and the color of traditional classical play, which is said to be a veteran actor Lee Soon-Jae's 66-year-old affection for the play. According to the interview, Lee Soon-Jae saw other performances that harmed the meaning of the original work, and made an effort to deliver properly what Anton Chekhov was trying to convey, being in charge of directing. As a result of searching the original work of Anton Chekhov, I got to know Lee Soon-Jae truly followed the original. These days, it is more difficult to find classical plays than original plays. How about searching for the symbolic meaning of the seagull that numerous directors are studying or thinking more about human life expressed by Anton Chekhov through the play “The Seagull”?< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >