Both Nina In The Seagull And Oedipus

Both Nina In ?The Seagull? And Oedipus In ?Oedipus Rex? Make Their Fates Even Worse Through Their Ow Essay, Research Paper

??????????? The

inevitability of fate is a key theme in Sophocles? ?Oedipus Rex? and in

Chekhov?s ?The Seagull?. I was fascinated by the ways this inevitability

was conveyed by Chekhov and Sophocles respectively and the ways in which the

actions of the characters contributed to and heightened their fate. I shall

attempt to compare and contrast the way in which Oedipus and, to a lesser

extent, Nina make their fates more unbearable by their own actions and choices.

In each case the author uses characterisation to enhance and increase the sense

of inevitability and hence the sense of tragedy in the respective plays. ??????????? Sophocles

has created his Oedipus not as innately evil but as a likeable character.? It is this that makes the conclusion of his

play even more tragic.[1]? Had Oedipus been presented as an evil

character we would have felt much less sympathetic towards him, as it is

Oedipus appears to be the very essence of goodness at the commencement of the

play and in this way makes his downfall owing to a realisation of the truth

even more dramatic.? He is an ?ideal

king? ? one who feels for his people.?

This addition to a well-known story by Sophocles makes the resultant

dramatic irony extremely effective.? His evident flaws of character

make it plausible that he could have unknowingly killed his father and married

his mother.? He is human but at the

start of the play his excessive pride, impetuousness and efficiency, all human

failings, seem to obscure and divert his search for the truth. Furthermore, he

is arrogant and conceited, particularly concerning his personal successes: ?Oedipus: Why, when the monster with her song was here,

spak?st thou no word our countrymen to help? And yet the riddle lay above the

ken?and called for prophets skill?but then I came?and slew her.? ??????????? These

features of Oedipus? personality lead him inevitably to assume that he, the

great Oedipus, liberator of his people, could not possibly be the murderer that

they seek. Hence, it is Oedipus? inflated ego that causes his fate to be so

severe and his downfall so great at the end of the play.? Furthermore, despite Teiresias? words early

in the play, Oedipus refuses to believe the truth that he is responsible for

Laios? death.? His arrogance leads him

to unknowingly curse himself, thus making his fate worse: ?Oedipus: Still let him speak; no heavier doom is his

than to depart uninjured from the land?and none may give him shelter, none speak

to him?but all shall thrust him from their homes, declared our curse and our

pollution.? ??????????? Oedipus has

been living a ?blissful life? devoid of problems and worry.? He is in a state of denial throughout the

play, with the prophesy concerning him playing on his mind and constantly

willing it to be a mistake and convincing himself that it must be so. Oedipus

has a great sense of integrity and he finds it difficult to believe that he

could commit such irreparable sin. His denial only worsens the eventual realisation

of the truth. ?The design of

Oedipus? personality by Sophocles is worth consideration. We feel sympathy for

his predicament, cringe at his pronouncements, and recognise his apparent

faults.? It is the humanity of Oedipus

that makes Sophocles? portrayal of him so successful, allowing the audience to

identify with him as a human being rather than just a type.? In contrast, Chekhov is experimenting with

the character of Nina.? By putting an

unformed character into a situation such as that manufactured by Chekhov in ?The

Seagull? we find that we become sympathetic

towards her, rather than blame her for her stupidity, we warm towards her and

pity her and even feel that she has been exploited somewhat.? The character of Nina arouses interest through

this lack of character formation; she becomes a character that the audience can

empathise with. In her final speech, her loss of youthful exuberance is

apparent and this becomes tragic, as it was this that made her character so

attractive.[2] It is Nina?s personality that makes creates her

downfall perhaps to an even greater extent than in the case of Oedipus, as

there is no sense of a God defined inevitability in Nina?s fate. Nina?s

ambitious nature leads her to follow Trigorin in pursuit of fame and fortune.

Her innocence and childish ambition leads her to follow her dreams despite

Trigorin?s subtle warnings. Her heedlessness stems from a determination to

follow her dreams whatever the consequences: ?Nina:?I?d willingly put up with poverty, disappointment,

I?d live in a garret, and eat nothing but rye bread.? I?d suffer terribly, I?d be so dissatisfied with myself, so aware

of my own short comings, but in return I?d demand fame?yes, genuine, resounding

fame.? ??????????? It is her youthful naivety that leads

to her inevitable downfall.? In contrast

to the fully formed character of Oedipus, Nina has yet to find herself and

hence her actions are less determined by her character traits and more by her

instincts.? This leads her to become

infatuated with Trigorin who personifies many of her dreams of success, and

perhaps it is this that causes her to fall in love with him.? Interestingly, however, it is her experience

that forms her character and by following her dreams and seeing them left in

tatters.? This causes her to form a harsh

perception of life and become tougher and more resilient.? Her words in the final scene tell us much

about her new self: ?Nina: I know now?whether we act or write?isn?t fame, it

isn?t glory, it?s none of those things I used to dream of, it?s simply the

capacity to endure.? To bear your cross,

and have faith.? Despite

the curse, it is Oedipus? own instinctive actions on realisation of his sin

that causes him to be blinded, thus making his fate worse.? It is his own remorse that causes him to

punish himself in this way. On the other hand, the act of blinding himself is

inevitable because of the emotional, passionate and good character that he is;

his character traits make his actions inevitable.He becomes a man driven by the heart, not the

head. His humanity becomes increasingly apparent both to himself and the

audience. In

her conversations with Trigorin, Nina?s obsession with fame is clear: ?Nina: And I wouldn?t mind changing places with you?to

see what it feels like being a famous, talented writer. ?What?s it like to be a celebrity? What does

it feel like?? Although Nina insists on

asking questions such as these, she pays no heed to the response: ?Trigorin:?Nothing in particular.? I?ve never given it much thought?it?s

something that you just don?t feel? Nina fails to take heed

to Trigorin?s subtle advice that fame does not make one happy, but simply makes

one strive for more fame.? In this way,

Nina makes her own fate far worse by her lack of attention.? Had she paid attention and realised the

reality that lay behind her fantasy we might have seen a very different Nina at

the end of the play. In Nina?s case, it is nothing but her driving ambition

that leads to her downfall, and in this was she makes her fate worse by her own

actions.? Like Oedipus, her heart

increasingly drives her. ??????????? Regardless of Nina?s own part in shaping her fate, we

cannot ignore the role played by Trigorin.?

From the outset, Trigorin is torn between Arkadina and Nina.? He even realises to some extent where a

relationship with Nina may lead: ?Trigorin: An idea for a plot?for a short story.? It?s about a young girl, not unlike you, who

has lived all her life beside a lake?then a man comes along, catches sight of

her, and in an idle moment, destroys her.? Therefore, when the blame

is shifted on to Nina for the stupidity of her own actions, it must be

remembered that Trigorin must take some of the blame. ??????????? Nina?s conversation with Trigorin in Act Two gives the

reader an idea of what is to happen.? In

this way Chekhov builds dramatic irony in a similar fashion to Sophocles, the

audiences realises that Nina?s relationship with Trigorin will probably lead to

her downfall but is powerless to stop the inevitability of her fate. Unlike

Oedipus?, Nina?s fate in ?The Seagull? is not totally disastrous. Although

Nina?s fate has affected her as a person, it has not destroyed her in the same

way as it did Oedipus. Here we see the conflicting reactions, Oedipus reacts to

his fate by punishing himself and dragging himself down further into despair,

refusing to believe that life goes on and asking to be banished from the city

and his daughters: ??????????? ?Cast me with all thy speed from out this land,

where nevermore a man may speak to me!? [3] In contrast, Nina, with her life in tatters, gives up her

childish innocence and lust for fame and rebuilds her life on new foundations,

to endure and have faith. As she says herself in the final scene: ?I?ve been going for walks, walking and thinking, feeling

myself grow stronger, spiritually, with every day that passes.? ??????????? Although both characters find themselves in horrible

predicaments, Oedipus allows his unfortunate fate to destroy him due to his

desire to suffer to atone for his sin, whilst Nina, on the brink of destruction

and madness, resolves to rebuild her life and to carry on regardless. She shows

that unhappy fate can be endured and turned to advantage dependent upon a

characters actions. Whilst

the text shows two ways of dealing with realisation of fate, neither character

chooses the ?easy way out?, i.e. death.?

They do this for differing reasons.?

Oedipus has several reasons for wanting to live on.? He insists that he blinding himself makes

the curse more terrible and he justifies his actions in three ways.? Firstly, he wants to inflict physical

suffering upon himself to atone for his sin, secondly, he can?t bear to see the

innocent faces of his children, and thirdly, he wants to be seen as a living

example so that everyone will know what he has done and take heed of the God?s

and their oracles.? In each of these three

explanations we admire Oedipus, and perhaps here are the seeds of restructuring

his life.? This is not examined in depth

in ?Oedipus Rex? and the play concludes

with Oedipus a broken man. ??????????? In conclusion, whilst it is debateable whether or not any

fate is inevitable or simply made inevitable by a character?s personality, it

is certainly true to say that both Nina and Oedipus made their own fate?s worse

by their own action, but also that Nina, to some extent, refined her own fate

through her positive outlook. However, it must be taken into account that other

characters, and in the case of Oedipus the God?s, also played a key role.? Bibliography: ?The Seagull?- Chekhov ?Oedipus Rex? ? Sophocles ?The Art of Poetry? ?

Aristotle ?Naturalism? ? Zola York Notes on ?The

Seagull? ??????????? ? [1] Aristotle

wrote in his essay ?The Art of Poetry? that the sense of tragedy is heightened

when we feel a character?s fate is inevitable. Had Oedipus remained at Corinth,

perhaps the oracle?s prophecy would not have come to fruition.? In short, Oedipus? fate only became

inevitable because the way he reacted to hearing that he should slay his father

and kill his mother.? In tearing himself

away in ignorance he made the near impossible possible.? Is it reasonable to say, therefore, that it

was not the Gods that made Oedipus? fate inevitable, but Oedipus? own

personality.? This raises an interesting

question: is there such a thing as free will in Oedipus? society or are all

actions predetermined by a character?s personality?? However, this hypothetical debate should not be pursued too far;

Oedipus caused the prophesy concerning him to come true owing to his

personality traits and these caused him to avoid what he saw as the

inevitability of him committing sin.? In

short, it is Oedipus? goodness, honesty, passion and integrity that made evil

possible. [2]It can be

said that the fates of both Nina and Oedipus were inevitable, but why is the

word ?inevitable? used? It implies that neither character had any choice

whatsoever in the matter and that whatever they did it was ?inevitable? that

certain things would happen to them.? In

the case of Oedipus, this sense of inevitability can be attributed to the

Gods.? However, in the case of Nina, it

is only that her youthful naivety makes her prone to react in a certain manner

and it is this from which the sense of inevitability comes. In both plays one

can see evidence of what is now known as naturalism at work. (Although,

obviously, Sophocles would have been ignorant of the concept, the same theory

can be applied to his art in ?Oedipus Rex?.) Naturalism, as

propounded by Zola, involved a scientific objectivity on the part of the

writer, observing, in an experimental way, what would happen to their

characters if placed in certain conditions.?

Although interesting, this is rather heartless as it leaves their

characters entirely devoid of free will, driven wholly (and this is striking

when one considers Nina) by animal instinct. [3]

This is only true in the work I have studied, ?Oedipus Rex?.? In further plays concerning the lives of

Oedipus, also written by Sophocles as part of a ?trilogy?, Oedipus rebuilds his

broken life.? In this manner a

comparison could be drawn with Nina?s attempt to rebuild her broken life. I

chose not to do this for two reasons, firstly, my task is specific to the two

books mentioned, ?Oedipus Rex? and ?The Seagull? and secondly,

the Oedipus ?trilogy? is only a trilogy in the barest sense of the word. It is

three plays chronologically following the life of Oedipus.? During the progression of these plays we see

little coherency, e.g. the character of Creon varies from an understanding

friend to a raging angry tyrant.



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