The Play “The Seagull” has interesting commentary on the role of the artist and art and theater.
In the first act, Masha and Medviedenko engage in a short dialogue and one of the things that come up is the line “Happiness does not depend on riches, poor men are often happy”. The speaker, Masha, who does not come about much in the second act, is said to always seem depressed. This particular scene is suggests a kind of morality, which is often incorporated into Chekhov’s works.
The play thus far, also poses the question, what is the role of theater and the artist? The playwright Treplieff, appears to be a starving artist or otherwise dramatic. Not least because he lacks the resources to foster a theater, rather because he lacks the confidence in his work. Arkadina, his mother, is a famous veteran actress whose cynicism and arrogance I find quite distasteful. I wonder if she is the reason Treplieff lacks confidence in his work? Is he seeking out the approval of his mother?
Dorn says, in act one that “it is only right that artists be made much of by society and treated differently from, let us say, merchants. it is a kind of idealism”. I found this quote to be significant because Dorn is suggesting that the artist has higher importance or the purpose of the author surmounts that of other professionals. Arguably, Russia’s literary tradition has produced the world’s finest artists in the world and they have always belonged to the elite. Also, the literature more often expounds a moral or universal truth that is aimed humanize men.
Also noteworthy from act one is Nina’s soliloquy and the aroma of sulfur that flitted through the stage as she spoke. The scent was complimentary to what she was saying. In the soliloquy, Nina says “Satan, my mighty foe, advances; I see his dread and lurid eyes”. Because she is speaking of Satan, the Theater draws upon sulfur, particularly to suggest hell. It is a kind of metonymy in a sense. This poses the question, how does certain aesthetics or props function in the understanding of the play? Should plays incorporate a part of something to represent the whole? Is this a limitation of the theater or is it meant to channel the attention of the audience to a particular object?
Also, act one and two suggests the theater as a lake. Is the lake responsible for the confusing romance that is taking place?