The Seagull

Anton Chekhov

The mode of the play is literary and artistic. The materfamilias is a renowned actress. Her son is an incipient author. His mistress dreams about the stage. She loves a renowned author. His mistress is the actress.

Her brother owns the estate where the scenes are laid. His steward is an incompetent.

The orchestration is complete, leading voices, middle voices, celli and bassi. The actress is vain, and bestows herself upon a mediocrity, a fellow who writes a great many books. The son writes about Spirit and Matter, and loses his girl, who drops a stillborn child to the author and will become the actress. Author and actress are reunited, the son kills himself.

The essential effect of the middle voices is to fill out the harmony and not to provide counterpoint. The brother is a failure, bullied by his self-serving steward.

The title is a bird shot by the son in a Van Gogh episode, representing himself. The author interprets this as an allegory of the girl, slain out of boredom. He has it stuffed and forgets having done so when it is presented to him in the final act, which takes place two years later. One year is a cycle, three is time passing, two is the timewaster’s interval.

But put it another way. A great author and a great actress, mirroring their younger selves. The boy shoots the bird, the man stuffs it.

The one staring at the protagonist of Le Voyeur.