MASHA and MEDVIEDENKO come in from the left, returning from a walk. MEDVIEDENKO. Why do you always wear mourning? MASHA. I dress in black to match my life. I am unhappy. MEDVIEDENKO. Why should you be unhappy? [Thinking it over] I don't understand it. You are healthy, and though your father is not rich, he has a good competency. My life is far harder than yours. I only have twenty-three roubles a month to live on, but I don't wear mourning. [They sit down]. MASHA. Happiness does not depend on riches; poor men are often happy. MEDVIEDENKO. In theory, yes, but not in reality. Take my case, for instance; my mother, my two sisters, my little brother and I must all live somehow on my salary of twenty-three roubles a month. We have to eat and drink, I take it. You wouldn't have us go without tea and sugar, would you? Or tobacco? Answer me that, if you can. MASHA. [Looking in the direction of the stage] The play will soon begin.
The Seagull is the first of Anton Checkov's four full-length plays. It explores the romantic and artistic tension in the relationships between a young woman, a fading older lady, her playwright son and a popular story writer. The play references Shakespeare's Hamlet both in text and content. It has a cast of eclectic characters whose principle dramas play themselves out off stage and in unvoiced subtext. As this opposed the melodramatic theatre of the day, the play's first reception in 1895 was hostile. It later became a huge success.
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