Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Seagull

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 25 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4329
  1. Ben O’Leary, core medical trainee, Whipps Cross University Hospital, London E11 1NR
  1. olearyben{at}

Chekhov spent many years as a rural physician (BMJ 2009;339:b3395, doi:10.1136/bmj.b3395), a fact often cited in the examination of his characters and their country life, and he famously said, “medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress.” The Seagull is one of a few of Chekhov’s plays to include a doctor. Dr Dorn is a curious mix of the irascible and the compassionate. Having travelled the world and spent many years in practice (and in various amorous relationships) he has a somewhat detached air. He is genuine but sometimes overly forthright, particularly with his longstanding friend, Sorin. His assessment of Sorin’s wish to live on long past 62 is that it is “Foolish. Every life must have …

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