Six Characters in Search of an Author – Luigi Pirandello

Review in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

6charactersTitle : Six Characters in Search of an Author (Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore) A Comedy in the Making
Author : Luigi Pirandello (1921)
Translator : Edward Storer
A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0608521.txt
Date first posted : November 2006

But do you really want to see drama, do you want to see it flash out as it really did? (The Step-daughter)

What if in the middle of your rehearsal, a group of people appeared and told you:

We bring you a drama, sir. (The Father)

That opening was really exciting me. However, that sentence has become my favourite, because it means everything. The core of this play. First of all, I want to tell that this review will content so many quotes. I just can’t stand not putting them here, because the quotes would speak more about this play and the moral.

The six characters were; The Father, The Mother, The Son, The Step-daughter, The Boy and The Child  (the last two weren’t speaking). They admitted themselves as characters from an author that couldn’t finish their story. That made them searching an author to complete their life story. The content of the drama they brought was chaotic, but the drama itself—that they brought to the rehearsal stage—was full of philosophical value. When the manager couldn’t accept the idea of characters being alive, the father told him:

you know well that life is full of infinite absurdities, which, strangely enough, do not even need to appear plausible, since they are true.

Even in absurdities, the main idea was so true. The truth is, it wanted to tell us this thing:

The man, the writer, the instrument of the creation will die, but his creation does not die.

For the drama lies all in this — in the conscience that I have, that each one of us has. We believe this conscience to be a single thing, but it is many-sided. There is one for this person, and another for that. Diverse consciences. So we have this illusion of being one person for all, of having a personality that is unique in all our acts. But it isn’t true. We perceive this when, tragically perhaps, in something we do, we are as it were, suspended, caught up in the air on a kind of hook. Then we perceive that all of us was not in that act, and that it would be an atrocious injustice to judge us by that action alone, as if all our existence were summed up in that one deed. (The Father)

Drama yang belum selesai ditulis adalah mengenai sebuah keluarga. Sang ibu, setelah memiliki seorang putra menyatakan bahwa dirinya ‘didorong’ oleh suaminya (The Father) untuk menikah dengan pria lain. Dari pernikahannya tersebut, dia memiliki tiga orang anak. Namun, saat ini suami keduanya telah meningga dunia. Saat dia kembali untuk menemui putra pertamanya, sang anak (The Son) menolak untuk menerima kenyataan tersebut. Di sinilah kebencian, keputusasaan, kerinduan, dan kasih sayang dalam keluarga tersebut bergulat.

Oh, all these intellectual complications make me sick, disgust me — all this philosophy that uncovers the beast in man, and then seeks to save him, excuse him… I can’t stand it, sir. When a man seeks to “simplify” life bestially, throwing aside every relic of humanity, every chaste aspiration, every pure feeling, all sense of ideality, duty, modesty, shame…then nothing is more revolting and nauseous than a certain kind of remorse –crocodiles’ tears, that’s what it is. (The Step-daughter)

Dalam keraguan akan adanya karakter yang hidup tersebut, terjadilah perdebatan mengenai mana yang lebih ‘nyata’– karakter yang ‘hidup’ sebagai dirinya sendiri atau aktor yang berakting menjadi sebuah karakter. Perdebatan yang mengusik eksistensi kita sebagai manusia, mengajak kita untuk berpikir ‘siapakah’ diri kita yang sesungguhnya.

Why are you so anxious to destroy in the name of a vulgar, commonplace sense of truth, this reality which comes to birth attracted and formed by the magic of the stage itself, which has indeed more right to live here than you, since it is much truer than you (The Father)

I fancy, that the actress who acts her will be less true than this woman here, who is herself in person. (The Father)

the characters don’t act. Here the actors do the acting. (The Manager)

THE FATHER. Just so: actors! Both of them act our parts exceedingly well. But, believe me, it produces quite a different effect on us. They want to be us, but they aren’t, all the same.
THE MANAGER. What is it then anyway?
THE FATHER. Something that is…that is theirs — and no longer ours…
THE MANAGER. But naturally, inevitably. I’ve told you so already.

Then you’ll be saying next that you, with this comedy of yours that you brought here to act, are truer and more real than I am. (The Manager)

Maybe, we are all just doing our part in a big drama called world. A stage that we called reality, pretending that we are more real than any fiction characters that ever been written.

see yourself as you once were with all the illusions that were yours then, with all the things both inside and outside of you as they seemed to you — as they were then indeed for you. Well, sir, if you think of all those illusions that mean nothing to you now, of all those things which don’t even seem to you to exist any more, while once they were for you, don’t you feel that — I won’t say these boards — but the very earth under your feet is sinking away from you when you reflect that in the same way this you as you feel it today — all this present reality of yours — is fated to seem a mere illusion to you tomorrow? (The Father)

A character, sir, may always ask a man who he is. Because a character has really a life of his own, marked with his especial characteristics; for which reason he is always “somebody.” But a man — I’m not speaking of you now — may very well be “nobody.” (The Father)

Akan tetapi, apakah yang dimaksud dengan ‘nyata’ itu? Apakah itu sesuatu yang jelas, yang bisa kita lihat, bisa kita sentuh? Sesuatu yang jelas dan pasti? Jika memang demikian, maka benarlah bahwa bagi kita, nyata hanyalah saat ini. Kemarin adalah ilusi, hari esok adalah ilusi. Kita tidak bisa lagi ‘menyentuh’ masa lalu, dan segala hal yang mungkin atau tidak mungkin masih bisa terjadi esok hari. Namun bagi para karakter fiksi, kemarin dan hari esok sudah ditetapkan bagi mereka. Mereka—dan kita—tahu pasti apa yang akan terjadi pada mereka. Jadi, siapakah yang lebih nyata?

Our reality doesn’t change: it can’t change! It can’t be other than what it is, because it is already fixed for ever. It’s terrible. Ours is an immutable reality which should make you shudder when you approach us if you are really conscious of the fact that your reality is a mere transitory and fleeting illusion, taking this form today and that tomorrow, according to the conditions, according to your will, your sentiments, which in turn are controlled by an intellect that shows them to you today in one manner and tomorrow… who knows how?…Illusions of reality represented in this fatuous comedy of life that never ends, nor can ever end! Because if tomorrow it were to end…then why, all would be finished. (The Father)


If you want to criticize something in a modest way, better to make a comedy. If you want to make a joke, better to laugh at yourselves. I think that was Pirandello done with this comedy. At first, it mentioned that the group was rehearsing a play by Luigi Pirandello. Later, the manager mentioned:

it seems to me you are trying to imitate the manner of a certain author whom I heartily detest — I warn you — although I have unfortunately bound myself to put on one of his works.

About why couldn’t the author finished his work:

In my opinion he abandoned us in a fit of depression, of disgust for the ordinary theatre as the public knows it and likes it. (The Step-daughter)

I do writing sometimes, and I feel that a writer may freely put the part of his/her reality into fictions. But sometimes, there are something that the author need to left behind. S/he knew that his/her fiction had become a reality to him/herself, and s/he just couldn’t go further. That’s what I feel about the ‘denial’ part of The Son. He refused to continue his part, because the author didn’t want to ‘see’ his own ‘reality’.

I stand for the will of our author in this. He didn’t want to put us on the stage, after all! (The Son)

Kemudian setelah review panjang yang kebanyakan berisi quote ini, saya tidak yakin keindahan dari comedy ini bisa saya sampaikan. Makna filosofis yang tersebar, yang saya tangkap, dalam sandiwara yang kacau-balau ini sungguh sulit untuk saya ungkapkan. Saya hanya bisa mengatakan bahwa saya harus memberi 5/5 bintang untuk sebuah karya yang menurut saya jenius. Drama di dalam drama, pembelokan makna realitas.

Every true man, sir, who is a little above the level of the beasts and plants does not live for the sake of living, without knowing how to live; but he lives so as to give a meaning and a value of his own to life. (The Father)

Review #3 of Let’s Read Plays

Review #1 for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013

See more about my favourite quotes of this play here and here.


7 responses to “Six Characters in Search of an Author – Luigi Pirandello

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  2. Seems to be a philosophical play, interesting… Might want to pick this for future reading 🙂

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