Six Characters in Search of an Author Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First produced: Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore: Commedia da fare, 1921

First published: 1921 (English translation, 1922)

Type of work: Play

Type of plot: Comedy

Time of work: Twentieth century

Locale: The stage of a theater

Characters DiscussedThe Father

The Six Characters in Search of an AuthorFather, who, during preparations for the rehearsal of a play, appears on stage with five members of his family, in search of an author who will put them, already living characters, into a drama. The manager finally agrees to hear their story and allows them all to rehearse their parts as their illusions cause them to believe them to be.

The Mother

The Mother, who years ago was provided with a lover by her husband. After the lover tires of her, she returns, destitute, with her three illegitimate children and is again received into her husband’s home. She watches, sorrowing, as she sees her husband act out his visit to Madame Pace, from whom he attempts to purchase a replacement for his wife. Unknown to him, the girl he desires is the illegitimate daughter of his own wife.

The Stepdaughter

The Stepdaughter, who, while playing her part in Madame Pace’s establishment, is approached by her stepfather, who does not recognize her. She is abruptly pulled from him by her horrified mother, who rushes in from offstage.

The Son

The Son, who, when urged by the manager to play his part, insists that he simply walked in the garden. He violently accuses the father of displaying the family shame to the world and of dragging him onstage. He finally admits finding the body of the little girl in the fountain.

The Little Girl

The Little Girl, who, placed by the stage manager beside a fountain, is found dead in its waters.

The Boy

The Boy, who is placed by the stage manager behind some bushes, from which comes the sound of a pistol shot. In the resulting confusion, the rehearsal ends in a frantic discussion about whether or not the boy’s death is real or pretended.

Madame Pace

Madame Pace, a procuress. Scandalized at having to play her part before the mother, she leaves the stage.

The Stage Manager

The Stage Manager,

the Leading Lady

the Leading Lady, and

the Leading Man

the Leading Man, the professional company interrupted in rehearsal by the six characters in search of an author.

BibliographyBentley, Eric. The Pirandello Commentaries. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1986. These essays include an erudite analysis of Six Characters in Search of an Author. Bentley explores the abstraction of time and space, the characterizations, and Pirandello’s dialectical opposition of reality and illusion in the play.DiGaetani, John Louis, ed. A Companion to Pirandello Studies. Wesport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1991. This major source book features four studies on Six Characters in Search of an Author and two dozen essays on Pirandello’s influence, life, and other works. Appendices include the production history of Six Characters in Search of an Author and a bibliography.Goffman, Erving. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974. An extraordinary sociological study, directly influenced by Pirandello, on the epistemological “frames” people use to make sense of the world. Goffman’s discussion of the “theatrical frame” is essential for students who wish to understand more about Pirandello’s violations of dramatic convention in Six Characters in Search of an Author.Pirandello, Luigi. “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” In Playwrights on Play Writing, edited by Toby Cole. New York: Hill & Wang, 1960. Pirandello’s personal account of his motivations for creating characters who, in turn, search for a dramatist to give them life.Vittorini, Domenico. The Drama of Luigi Pirandello. New York: Russell & Russell, 1935. An accessible survey endorsed by Pirandello. Includes a clear, nontechnical exposition of Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Categories: Characters