The Source, Form, and Goal of Art in Anton Chekhov’s The Sea Gull

  • Raymond J. WilsonIIIEmail author
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 109)


Excessive attention to the personal dimension may distract the reader or audience member in responding to Anton Chekhov’s The Sea Gull from noticing the most important meaning of the play: the dialectic over the source, form, and goal of art. As for the source of art, Chekhov’s character Nina says that the source of her acting art is her faith in herself; Konstantin sees the source of art as a gush that spontaneously surges from the soul of the artist, as he or she tries to stop thinking; and the play shows Boris taking notes from life for ideas he has for stories and novels. As far as form goes, Konstantin writes literature full of abstract ideas in what might be called an idealist form. Boris’s form is clearly realism. Pertaining to the goal of art, Boris clearly says that he wants to serve his country, the nation he loves, by describing the suffering of her people. The only objective stated by Konstantin is the self-referential one of creating new forms. Dr. Dorn says that no clear goal can be discerned in Konstantin’s art. Although the play presents several personal motives for Konstantin’s suicide, it also shows him realizing the superiority of Boris’s approach to art. Thus, in having Konstantin commit suicide, Chekov may be showing which side he takes in the debate.


Young Girl Short Story Audience Member Wild Duck Great Writer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Loras CollegeDubuqueUSA

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