Places: Henry IV

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1922 as Enrico IV (English translation, 1922)

First produced: 1922, at the Manzini Theatre, Milan, Italy

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Psychological realism

Time of work: 1922

Places DiscussedHenry’s throne room

Henry’s Henry IVthrone room. Villa salon designed to look like the throne room of the historical Henry IV in Goslar, Germany. However, as the young “counsellors” of “Henry IV,” the mad hero of the play, reveal, this room is not always in Goslar but sometimes in numerous other places. Nevertheless, for Henry IV, it has been a real throne room, even though he has not in actuality left the villa for all the years of his madness. However, in the third act, it is, for everyone, merely a room in the villa, where Henry suggests in the story of the Irish priest that we all play parts and so in a manner are as mad as he was or perhaps is. At the end, it is the room in which Henry must always be “mad,” in order not to be punished for his truly insane stabbing of Belcredi.

Second room in villa

Second room in villa. This room, although its furniture is described as simple and old, seems rather timeless. Still, there is an irony in that there are windows that look out upon a garden, a real world, and yet a door opens into the so-called throne room. But it is here that Henry tells his counsellors, who are merely his hired actors, that he is no longer mad, so that for the moment everyone seems to be living in the present and is, perhaps, sane.

BibliographyBentley, Eric. “Enrico IV,” in Theatre of War: Modern Drama from Ibsen to Brecht, 1954.Binion, Ralph. “The Play as Replay or the Key to Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV, and Clothe the Naked.” In Soundings: Psychohistorical and Psycholiterary. New York: Psychohistory Press, 1981. The only essay in Binion’s collection that deals with theater. His expositions of Pirandello’s themes, based on what he perceives as expressions of the author’s psychological repressions, are both interesting and dangerous, because one is tempted to accept Binion’s theories as facts.Brustein, Robert. “Pirandello’s Drama of Revolt,” in The Theatre of Revolt, 1962.Cambon, Glauco. Pirandello: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1967. Two essays deal peripherally with Henry IV, but the collection deals extensively with the thoughts and themes to be found in all of Pirandello’s dramas.Oliver, Roger W. Dreams of Passion: The Theater of Luigi Pirandello, 1979.Pirandello, Luigi. Naked Masks: Five Plays. Translated by Edward Storer, edited and with an introduction by Eric Bentley. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1952. Contains Pirandello’s best known and most popular plays. Bentley, who was one of the major critics of twentieth century modernist dramas, offers excellent insights into Henry IV.Starkie, Walter. Luigi Pirandello. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1926. A major book-length study on Pirandello. The starting point for all subsequent study. Not a biography but a work of meticulous scholarship about influences and themes.Styan, J.L. The Dark Comedy: The Development of Modern Comic Tragedy, 1968.Vittorini, Domenico. The Drama of Luigi Pirandello, 1935.
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