Authors and characters in search of the truth : a comparative study of Pirandello's 'Right you are (if you think so!)' and Pinter's 'The collection'
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According to some distinguished scholars, Pinter’s ‘The Collection’ and Pirandello’s ‘Right You Are (If You Think So!)’ display some similarities in the themes treated, mainly regarding the topic of the unverifiability of the truth. Far from being the proof of a supposed “philosophical” attitude shared by the two authors, the affinity between the two plays needs to be demonstrated through the more reliable criteria of a textual analysis. Thanks to this kind of examination, I have discovered that the resemblance concerning the main topic is accompanied not only by the occurrence of further common themes – i.e. attitude towards female characters and strong criticism of conventional social codes – but also by the presence of other similar elements (concerning the development of the dramatic action, the use of certain technical devices, the treatment of the characters, the exploitation – in renewed forms – of the traditional ‘well-made play’). Indeed, both playwrights have experimented with the new possibilities and the renewed expressive power of words after the collapse of the Naturalistic stage. Their main affinity in this respect is constituted by the occurrence in ‘The Collection’ and ‘Right You Are’ of a close link between a typically twentieth-century theme – truth – and a modern – though in different ways and degrees – use of linguistic/dramatic means: undeniably, it is the combination of these two elements that delimits the common ground. This similarity finds its most suitable expression in the farcical forms of tragicomedy: both ‘Right You Are’ and ‘The Collection’ are parodies of ‘pieces ben faite’, grotesque disguises of the nineteenth-century ‘comedy of manners’. That is the reason why the elements of analogy occurring also in other Pirandellian and Pinteresque plays appear particularly well defined in these two, which therefore might be considered emblematic of modern sensibility in art and culture. Significantly, similarities, especially concerning themes, crop up throughout the two authors’ major works as well as in their literary theories; yet it is through the similar dramatic structure, the similar plot and the parallel characters of these particular plays that they appear more clearly. The resemblance is too strong to be casual and, although there is no way to affirm that it proves Pirandello’s influence on Pinter, it nevertheless at least suggests the possibility of unsuspected links between different expressions of modern theatre.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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