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By J. L. Styan

For a whole knowing of any textual content, cautious attention needs to be given to its existence in functionality. during this worthwhile research of 4 of Chekhov's significant performs - Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard and 3 Sisters - J. L. Styan demonstrates the improvement of Chekhov's talents as a dramatist and discusses level motion, portrayal of personality, differing twentieth-century productions and the viewers reactions they evoked.

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Sample text

There are strong elements of the classical comedy of cuckoldry in the presentation of this elderly, inadequate husband, and Shamraev manages to bore even Arkadina herself. She has no wish to have her juvenile successes and acquaintances recalled to mind, especially not by a man who can remember exact dates from as long ago as twentythree years: cYou keep asking me about antediluvians. ' It is Dorn who tries to supply the balance to Shamraev's colourful generalities about the good old days, but although he tries to bring attention to the present occasion, he can do nothing to prepare an audience belonging to the past for a performance dedicated to the future.

Chekhov is now about to bring the whole cast of the play on stage, and its organization during the sequence which follows is 1 Dorn was possibly conceived as a raisonneur in the French tradition of Dr Remonin mU&trangere of Dumas fils. See M. Valency, The ¥ lower and the Castle (New York, P- 793O Act I a challenging exercise for any director, for the text is a masterpiece of controlled guidance of the spectator's interests and sympathies. The chatter on stage seems casual, turning lightly on things of the theatre as is appropriate to the occasion, but while we seem to have been prepared to concentrate on Treplev's cnew forms of theatre', Chekhov slyly refocuses our attention on the 'great' actress, Treplev's mother, and her professional world.

Yet though the symbolism of the seagull is asked to generalize youthful lost illusions and to reflect such varying lights, it cannot stand for the general condition of the lives of all these unhappy people. Chekhov's juxtapositions of character are far more successful in projecting his theme, and he does not repeat such mechanical 18 The Seagull symbolism in the plays that follow. The pattern of youth and age ensures that the image of the one has meaning only in the mirror of the other. Thus Polina's story is that of a woman unhappily married to a bore.

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