Luigi Pirandello's "Henry IV" Analytical Essay by Research Group

Luigi Pirandello's "Henry IV"
A review of Luigi Pirandello's play "Henry IV."
# 26560 | 1,699 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on May 09, 2003 in Drama and Theater (World) , English (Analysis)

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This paper examines Luigi Pirandello's "Henry IV", a powerful and complex play that challenges the dialectical oppositions of madness versus sanity and illusion versus reality. It analyzes how although the protagonist is supposed to be a madman, he is the one who possesses the profound insight into life and reality and in comparison. It shows how the "sane" characters are ridiculous and shallow in their perceptions. It evaluates how by elevating the "madman" above the sane characters and giving him the voice of reason, Pirandello questions the validity of the demarcations between madness and sanity. It looks at how Henry's imaginary world is a microcosm of life that is equivalent to a grand masquerade consisting of sane people who also try to deceive themselves by playing the roles of their choice.

From the Paper:

"The themes of madness and acting are inextricably interwoven together in this play. Henry's madness is encapsulated in his illusion about being the real Henry IV. He is surrounded by people who also play roles in their attempt to simulate the period of Henry IV. Furthermore, as a mad person, Henry is an actor who transcends the limitations of time, space and sequence that affects human beings. However, he is not the only "madman" in this play. In his speech to Matilda in Act I, he illuminates her desperate attempt to defy the passage of time by constructing a mask of youth to suit her self-perception: ""my lady, don't dye your hair to deceive the others, nor even yourself" I do it for a joke! You do it seriously! But I assure you that you too, Madam, are in masquerade, though it be in all seriousness" (Pirandello 170; 1). Although Matilda knows that she cannot win her battle against time, she still engages in her imaginary creation of her ideal youthful image. In the same way, she is as mad as Henry IV because she is also trapped into her illusion (Bassnett-McGuire 107). "

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