Exloration of the Nature of Mankind in Friedrich Durrenmatt’s Tragicomedy The Visit

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Throughout the interactive orals, I was able to develop a profound understanding of the messages Durenmatt was aiming to send to his audience. A particular oral discussed contextual information for The Visit, considering the time the play was written and performed. 1956 was the year in which the play was created just 11 short years after the devastation of the Second World War. During this time Switzerland was famous for its impartial stance however from listening to the orals, I learnt, Switzerland was weak, and had the opportunity to gain profit from deals from opposing sides of the war. This wealth is something clear within the play, and from a second oral I learnt that wealth can be understood as an instrument for moral deterioration. Theatrical movement called epic theatre suggests that Durenmatt responded to the political climate of the time through the creation of theatre. Learning that the style of the play was not for entertainment only, helps in analysis for deeper political understanding. These ideas brought together, suggest that like the citizens of Guellen with the money from Claire, Swiss impartiality was swayed when presented with profit.

Another factor looked upon during the orals was the development of characters and stage set’s and the impact this has on the focus of the plays. The simplistic nature of the sets and personalities alike, encourage the audience towards understanding the meaning of the play rather than the detail of the characters. This combined with the doubling of characters, Man1-4, reflects the economic turmoil within Guellen and provides the townspeople with incentive for moral evil. Using the depersonalization of the characters and lack of necessities presents the desperation in the town and contributes to the main them of the play; that money can buy justice.

By having a deeper understanding of the author, his playwriting style, and his attitudes towards Swiss culture, gives me the ability to comprehend the play with a different outlook, showing ideas depicted on moral battles, fragility of human moral and justice. As well as understanding the authors wishes to provide a controversial play. without incriminating himself within the media, the aim was to spark debate, but to protect himself from criticism, so Durenmatt pleaded to remain neutral, suggesting his work was fabricated opinions and did not represent his own. All contributing to new understanding of the play and its true messages.


Friedrich Durrenmatt’s ambitious, daring tragicomedy The Visit is a chilling commentary following the nature of mankind and morality. As passage from the new testament of the Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10, summaries the destruction and perdition that the lusts of greed guide men into, “for the love of money is the root of all evil.” This passage is reflected in the transition of the character’s morals in the face of money. At the core of the play lies the hunt for compensation and punishment for the respective parties, the targets and the offenders alike; factors which are driven by the pursuit of justice; and that lead to immorality.

The progression of the play demonstrates to the audience that wealth has the audacity to drive even the most moral of characters into disastrous corruption. The presentation of money over morals in portrayed through a variety of events, and techniques used by Durenmatt, which overall lead me to believe that money is the primary motive for immorality, within the play.


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