The Sea-Gull (also, The Sea Gull)

A comedy in four acts by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. It portrays an intricate web of romantic relationships binding together most of the major characters. The action takes place at a country estate in the late 1890s. Although it is labeled as a comedy, the story is not without a tragic streak.

Short summary: At Madame Treplev's estate, her son, Konstantin, presents an outdoor performance of his new play, in which the single character (actually just a voice) is played by Nina, a neighbor's daughter, with whom Konstantin is hopelessly in love. When Madame Treplev, a famous actress, makes light of the angst-filled play, Konstantin angrily stops the performance.

Later, Nina becomes infatuated with Trigorin, a literary man and Madame Treplev's current lover. When Madame Treplev and Trigorin move back to Moscow, Nina follows, hoping to become an actress. There, she has an affair with Trigorin. Masha, the daughter of the family steward, is in love with Konstantin (who couldn't care less for her), but marries Medvedenko, the local schoolmaster.

Two years later, Nina has returned to the country, where Konstantin continues to live and work on his writing. Konstantin believes that he and Nina might make a fresh start together, but she rejects him. In the end, he goes out and shoots himself.

In Act II Treplev kills a seagull and presents it to Nina; he says, "Soon I shall kill myself in the same way." In Act IV the seagull returns to the stage, stuffed. Incidentally, the killing of the bird is the centerpiece of Chekhov's symbolism. It is instrumental in introducing a strong "loss of innocence" theme into the play. Mild resemblance to symbolic elements utilized in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is also apparent.