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The Seagull | Plot Summary

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Summary

Act 1

Act 1 of The Seagull establishes both the physical and psychological conditions under which the characters remain confined throughout the play. The scene opens onto a twilight view of the lake on Sorin's estate. That view is obscured, however, by a stage erected for the performance of Treplyov's "new form" play. Aging actress Arkadina barely keeps a grasp on both writer/lover Trigorin and her disaffected would-be writer son Treplyov. Treplyov declares himself to be in love with Nina. Masha is equally desperate to get Treplyov to notice her.

Act 2

Act 2 of The Seagull takes place on the lawn in front of Sorin's house during the hot summer heat of midday. Discussions of philosophy and art that were lively in Act 1 have now withered into boredom. Impressions of youth and health versus age, illness, and death vie for the doctor's remedies. While Trigorin escapes the tedium of his hack profession by fishing, Treplyov shoots a seagull and gives it to Nina, foreshadowing his suicide at the end of Act 4.

Act 3

Act 3 of The Seagull takes place inside Sorin's house at lunch time. Treplyov has wounded himself in a failed suicide attempt and plans to challenge Trigorin to a duel. Arkadina decides to take Trigorin away to avoid the duel, leaving her wounded son behind to be taken care of by her elder brother, Sorin. Nina and Trigorin agree to meet in the city.

Act 4

This final act of The Seagull takes place two years later at supper time in a parlor of Sorin's house. The room has been converted into a study for Treplyov's writing. While Trigorin's work has plodded on as usual, Treplyov's has been moderately received and published. This fact seems to have galvanized everyone's adulation of Treplyov. The dead seagull has been stuffed and stored in a cabinet. Nina has returned. Her affair with Trigorin has ruined her heath and left her with a dead child. Although she seems to think of herself as a seagull, it is Treplyov's success in committing suicide at the end of the act that suggests his own affinity with the dead bird.

The Seagull Plot Diagram

ClimaxFalling ActionRising ActionIntroductionResolution2134675

Introduction

1 Nina acts in Treplyov's play.

Rising Action

2 Treplyov shoots a seagull and presents it to Nina.

3 Treplyov attempts suicide.

4 Nina leaves for Moscow to become an actress.

Climax

5 Nina returns to see Treplyov, but she still loves Trigorin.

Falling Action

6 Treplyov destroys his manuscripts.

Resolution

7 Treplyov commits suicide.

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