Illusion and Reality in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Six Characters in Search of an Author is said to dwell on the complicated and the contentious relationship between illusion and reality because the play ends in its ambiguous standpoint on the nature of the tragic experience of suicide.

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

The manager was intent upon creating an illusion of reality by sending actors on the stage to play the part of the characters. The convention of theatre aims at creating an illusion of reality, a perfect illusion of reality. But the father protests at this mode of the manager.

This attempt of the manager in creation of an illusion of reality on stage is vigorously opposed by the father. Father stakes (puts) a claim that actors are living being they live in spatio-temporal world, their reality changes. As time changes the reality of actors also change. That is why actors need an illusion of reality. This is how the father argues. The Father leaves no chance to add that the reality regarding to the characters is immutable because characters exist eternally in the realm of art.

Nothing provokes father's irritation other than the term illusion. Father rejoins that the word "illusion" is the cruel word. The characters have no life outside illusion. The actors' game of their sole reality. For the characters, art, what the actors would call mere illusion, is their sole reality. The father says that the character's reality is real while the Actor's is not.

According to the Father, the Character is somebody, man is nobody. Man is nobody because he is subject to time. In view of the father, Man's reality is fleeting; always ready to reveal itself as illusion, whereas the character's reality remains fixed for eternity. Put otherwise, time enables an opposition between reality and illusion for man over time, man comes to identify erstwhile realities as illusions, whereas the characters exists in the timeless reality of art.

Six characters, particularly the step-Daughter and the father, are eager to project their immutable reality in the realm of art (drama). The actors are, on the contrary, expert in creating the illusion of the reality regarding the characters. According to the manager, an upholder of the values of the conventional theatre, the theatre is a place; stage is a place wherein the illusion of reality is created. Both the characters (the step Daughter and the Father) and the manager (including actors) debates over the nature of illusion and reality. According to characters, to affirm the reality of characters, characters themselves, rather than actors, be sent. In view of characters, the stage should be divested of its conventional constraints. Characters continue to argue that in a conventionally constrained atmosphere of a stage, the reality of the characters can't be captured. But contrary to the demand of the characters, the manager insists upon introducing certain theatrical costumes and props to hint at the possibility of creating an illusion of reality.

The funny tug of war between the characters (the Stepdaughter and the Father) and the manager regarding the nature of illusion and reality, pretense and reality became so overwhelming and deep-seated that they were even confused about the suicidal death of the Boy and the child. In the final scene the Boy and the child met the self-incurred suicidal calamity. It was clearly seen that the Boy and the child died by shooting pistol at themselves. But the manager, the step-daughter and the father were debating whether the untimely demise of the Boy and the child was a pretense or reality.

The manager was, in his attempt to create an illusion of reality, took the tragic reality as a pretense whereas the father, long preoccupied with his immutable reality, saw in the tragic end of the Boy a reality. What the death of the Boy was in itself? If it was an illusion to the manager and reality to the father, what was this tragic event in itself? What is the exact nature of this tragic calamity? The only response to these questions as to the boundary between illusion and reality is relativity.

Pirandello was profoundly influenced by the emerging philosophy of the scientific relativism. The theory of relativity denies the absolute truth. The crux of the relativism paved the way of the blurred boundary between illusion and reality.

Related Topics

Six Characters in Search of an Author: Introduction

Six Characters in Search of an Author: Summary

The Relation between the Creator and the Created in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Modernism in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Scientific and Philosophical Theories of Relativity in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Art and Life in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Relationship between Characters and Actors in Six Characters in Search of an Author

The Concept of Meta-theatre in Six Characters in Search of an Author

Luigi Pirandello: Biography