Criticism Of Seagull Play
"The Seagull” by Chekhov's is a modern masterpiece. And the best way of experiencing this beautiful play is simply by reading it. The prime focus of this article is the criticism of Seagull play.
Anton Chekhov was traditionally a short story writer; and “The Seagull" was his first work as a drama. Although Chekhov did struggle with the dramatic form, but interestingly this beautifully naturalistic play does not show any marks of his inexperience in this field. In fact, most parts of the play are episodic, describing the actions or events.
The criticism on Seagull shows the play to have some text in relationship with Shakespeare's Hamlet. For example, in the first act when Arkadina and Treplyov are quoting lines from it before the play-within-a-play is itself used in Hamlet. There are many hints or suggestions of Shakespearean plot details. Treplyov seeking to win his mother back from the usurping older man Trigorin, for instance is very much like Hamlet trying to win Queen Gertrude back from his uncle Claudius.
Getting on with the criticism of Seagull play, it is almost totally character driven, lacking a strong plot, so much so that people accuse it have not having any "action." It's actually all action. The play has the feeling of "going nowhere" because a character's objectives are rarely achieved. The characters in the play are so pre-occupied with themselves and with their desires that they fail to connect with each other. They exhibit a sense of helplessness around them. Interestingly, Chekhov provides no "psychological" explanation for their basic nature and why they behave so.
The main challenge for Chekhov would have been to make these people likeable. Although they are probably depressed, they are never seen giving into it. Struggling mightily, they are strikingly rendered humanly. It is the mastery of Chekhov's in everyday, natural dialog, which is the force of life behind the Seagull play.
To wind up the criticism on Seagull, it is important to say that none of these characters can really understand themselves, but these people are real with great beauty in them. We just have to watch them, their actions, and their choices without over analyzing them.