Analysis Of ' The Visit ' By Friedrich Durrenmatt Essay

Analysis Of ' The Visit ' By Friedrich Durrenmatt Essay

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A book or a theatrical play can become the means through which writers can express their thoughts and convey their messages to society. In ancient times, Greek tragedies were a clever way for writers to judge the political world of the time, and make society reflect back on its own behavior and way of acting. Throughout the years, the form of a theatrical play underwent many changes that allowed the writers to express themselves more freely, without being limited to the strict rules of form and structure of a Greek tragedy. Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit is a story that is set in the modern era of post-war Europe. A woman, whose life, through an ugly series of events, is ruined, returns to her hometown to get revenge for the misery she had to suffer. Even though someone would expect that such a play would narrate a story that would reflect themes and characters of the modern times, the writer has a unique way of blending the old with the new. “In his presentation of the twentieth-century world…Duerrenmatt uses a form as old as Greek tragedy and a staging method as modern as surrealism; he uses characters as old as the Sphinx…he uses motifs as old as Oedipal inspired fears of castration, dark, mysterious…” (Askew 89) Dürrenmatt manages to incorporate various elements of an ancient Greek tragedy in a play that portrays the reality of the modern world.
The characters seem to jump out of an ancient Greek tragedy, disguised as people of the time that the play was written, but who still carry the old archetypal qualities. According to Askew “The central figure by which this…emotional ritualization occurs is…Madame Zachanassian and especially by her association with the Sphinx; for it is through this sphinx-like figure that all ...


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...ival. They do not realize that she is the one responsible for the economic destruction of the town. As a result, the story has a tragic ending, which also implies that the Gülleners, eventually, will have to face their own fate for killing a person they had no right to kill. However, “…by observing the disastrous consequences of heroic vengeance on the tragic stage, the audience are encouraged to appreciate the benefits of their own social and legal processes aimed at resolving cases of interpersonal violence.” (Allan 596) Therefore, the theme of vengeance for Dürrenmatt’s play was not merely a way to make the narration more interesting. As a tragedy serves as a message towards the viewers in order to criticize and make them reflect back on their way of acting and thinking, Dürrenmatt uses his play to convey his messages to post-war Europe and especially Switzerland.

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