The Seagull

The Seagull Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Is "The Seagull" a comedy?

    This question asks you to consider the genre and tone of the play. Some writers have famously thought the play a tragedy (see "About The Seagull" for more) - what do you think? How do you justify your reading in the text?

  2. 2

    Who do you think is the most sympathetic character in the play? Justify your opinion.

    The first job with this question is to define what you mean by "sympathy". Then take a character, and, remembering to compare them to other characters' cases, justify what you believe. What do you think Chekhov might have intended - is this different in comparison to your understanding of the play's intentions?

  3. 3

    "The Seagull" is a play, first and foremost, about writing.

    This essay asks you to make the argument its title suggests. Look at the play's two writers, and what they write. Look at everyone who states an ambition to have written. Consider whether the play is a "new form" or not (see "About The Seagull" for more).

  4. 4

    Is "The Seagull" a meta-theatrical play?

    This question asks you to consider the theatricality of the play. How far does Chekhov make you realise that you are watching a play - how often does theater feature in the play? What effect does it have?

  5. 5

    Write a character study of one of the supporting characters in the play.

    This question asks you to consider the characterization of one of the smaller characters: Medvedenko, Masha, Polina, Shamrayev, Dorn. How does this character add to the play - why are they included in it? What purpose do they serve?

  6. 6

    Justify the title of the play.

    This question asks you to consider the importance of "seagulls" in "The Seagull". Remember that Nina calls herself the seagull, look closely at the seagull that Konstantin shoots (and that Shamrayev has stuffed!.). How does Trigorin's story about "The Seagull" reflect the play? What does a seagull symbolize?

  7. 7

    How important is the setting of the play?

    This question asks you to consider - in particular - the setting of the lakeside in the First Act, and how important it is to the atmosphere and tone of the scenes. Think, as well as about setting, about weather and its significance to the final act.

  8. 8

    "Nothing is fixed. Everything is open to interpretation". (Michael Frayn on "The Seagull"). Does this seem a fair verdict of the play?

    This question asks you to consider Frayn's quote as a reading of the play - a play about interpretation and fluidity. Marshal evidence for and against Frayn's proposal, and then, using your own opinions, try and weigh the case to come to a verdict.