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Friedrich Durrenmatt’s Use Of Allusions To Enhance The Plays Plot

1262 words - 5 pages

In The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt, the use of allusions is very prevalent helping to compare the extent to what Durrenmatt is describing to its allusions. Durrenmatt’s implementation of allusions is used to offer a deeper understanding of the characterization, to compare the current town of Guellen to what it once was in order to explain why the town needs Claire’s money, and to show the irony of biblical ideas in order to show how Claire’s doings are as far from morally right as could be.
Friedrich Durrenmatt's use of allusions in order to enhance and describe the characters include the famous Romeo and Juliet, Lais, and Lord Alfred Tennyson. Durrenmatt uses these people in particular to help characterize Claire Zachanassian and Alfred Ill. Durrenmatt first alludes to Lais on page 27. “That conspicuous consumption of husbands; she’s a second Lais.” (Durrenmatt 27) Lais was a prostitute for nobles; she was very attractive and wealthy. Durrenmatt uses Lais to describe Claire and emphasize how Claire had to become a prostitute when she left Guellen and yet, came back still beautiful and wealthy. Durrenmatt uses this characterization to show that she was scorned by love, she scorned other, having nine husbands. We learn later that Claire herself says, “The world turned me into a whore. I shall turn the world into a brothel.” (67) This again alludes to her sexual services, which were bought and she knows through this anything can be bought. To erase this past she wants to erase the beginning of it by killing Ill, and money can do just that. Not only is Lais used to characterize a major character of the play, but also Lord Alfred Tennyson can be used to describe Ill. “Atmosphere like Tennyson” (83) was mentioned by Ill’s Daughter. Lord Tennyson, was a famous Victorian poet, whose poems promoted virtues of optimism and facing ones life struggles. This relates to Ill in this scene because at the end of the play Ill is no longer scared to die; he is facing his fear and accepting reality to his situation. Because Durrenmatt alludes to this; you understand more how Ill as a character has changed throughout the play, by his acceptance of what is going to happen to him, rather than trying to fight the death, helping Durrenmatt to portray Ill as a dynamic character. Finally, Romeo and Juliet can be used to portray both Claire and Ill. The allusion to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was mentioned twice in the play; once at the beginning and then once at the end of The Visit, The first use of this allusion appears on page 27, “They’re calling in on the places where their passions used to burn … Remember Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet.” (27) This helps to foreshadow that even though Claire and Ill’s passion for each other was flaming, their love will in in death. Later, during the last encounter together Claire says, “Boby, a Romeo and Juliet.” (86) This reemphasizes what is going to happen and how their love affair will end and the dramatic event of Ill’s...

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