Six Characters


Six Characters Essay, Research Paper

In Six Characters in Search of an Author Pirandello illustrates the point that in art there is no one reality, only perceptions. Art is one perception held by the one artist, in the case of the play, the author, who brings this perception to an audience. To animate this principal Pirandello uses many staging approaches and techniques to merge art and theater, into real life, while highlighting the shortcomings of drama/art in imitating life. I noted three such techniques while reading this play: the lines spoken by the “interesting” characters, the play structure pertaining to acts and scenes, and the play directions within the play.

To illustrate this first point we take notice of the lines the “most interesting characters” speak in the first few pages of the play. In this section these characters are pleading with the manager to take an interest in their story. However during their plea these characters fight amongst themselves, arguing their own perspective on the “drama” they “carry within” themselves. The father, who begins to tell the story of their “drama”, is interrupted countless times by the mother, the stepdaughter, and the son. These characters argue about the lifting of the mother’s mourning veil, about who instigated the split between the father and mother, and other such details, until the father asks the manager to exercise his authority, and allow him to speak uninterrupted. Real life is not always free from interruptions and conflicts, Pirandello writes dialogue that would be more commonly used in everyday conversations. As the father describes “the whole trouble lies here?in words?I put in the words I utter the sense and the value of things as I see them?each man of us his own special world.” (Pirandello 516) Each character interprets their “drama within” differently, and as imperfect as that is, that is life, which art struggles to duplicate.

Rejecting the conventional framework of a typical play, Pirandello brings realism to his play by running his play without acts, scenes, or intermissions. Instead the play is broken up, when the characters without an author, accompanied by the manager, adjourn off stage for twenty minutes to discuss and begin writing the character’s story, while the curtain remains up. Later another natural delay of action takes place when a stagehand lets the curtain fall accidentally. This rebellion against a traditional format again illustrates Pirandello’s intention to bring realism to his play, to bring real life to his play. As life is not divided up into scenes, or acts, each moment contributes to the next without delay. Consequently to bring realism to Six Characters in Search of a Author the play is left without intermission and definite breaks, or acts.

Finally is the section containing the play rehearsals within the play itself. “Louder? Louder? What are you talking about? These aren’t matters which can be shouted at the top of one’s voice.” Says the stepdaughter, “If I have spoken them out loud it was to shame him and have my revenge. But for Madame it’s quite a different matter.”( Pirandello 526) This section illustrates the largest split between life and art/drama. The stepdaughter is verbalizing the shortcomings of recreating life on stage. When life is mimicked in art it is limited by the artist’s interpretation as well as the general restrictions within the artists own ability and control.

Art can never fully reproduce life on a canvas, on film, in musical notes, or on stage. Pirandello illustrates the shortcomings of art by allowing reality, these “most interesting characters” to interrupt a play in progress. With conflicting interpretations and no planned intermission breaks Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author presents the split between life, and art mimicking life.

Work Cited

Galens, David. Drama for Students. Volume 4 Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997: 392

Depaul University. “Six Characters In Search of an Author.” (Retrieved June 1st, 2000).

Pirandello, Luigi. Six Characters in Search of an Author. The Compact Bedford

Introduction to Drama 2nd Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Benford Books 1996.



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