Act Iii of Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author

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In this selection from the beginning of Act III of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, the Father tries to make the Producer and the actors understand the difference between illusion and reality. In the beginning of this selection, the leading actress uses the word “illusion” to describe the scene they are working on. This word greatly offends the Father because it belittles his family’s story of their lives. Their story is not merely an illusion to them, it is their reality. The producer insists that they are creating a “perfect illusion of reality,” but they do not fully understand the reality of the six characters. The actors are insulted when the Father calls what they are doing “only a game.” He tells them that outside the “illusion” the Producer and actors are attempting to create, he and his family have no other reality. When the Producer still does not understand, the Father challenges him, asking if he really knows who he is. The Producer simply claims that he is himself, but the Father disagrees. The Producer is angered by someone who is “only a character” having the nerve to ask him who he is. Responding to the his anger over this, the Father explains, “A character, my dear sir, can always ask a man who he is, because a character really has a life of his own specific qualities, and because of these he is always ‘someone.’ While a man – I’m not speaking about you personally, of course, but man in general – well, he can be an absolute ‘nobody.’” He then asks the Producer to look back on his life at a time in the past and think about all the past ideas and illusions he had then that have since faded. “Don’t you feel that not only this stage is falling away from under your feet but so is the earth itself, and that all these realities of today are going to seem tomorrow as if they had been an illusion?” This quote summarizes the Father’s point about what is illusion and what is actually reality. Many things that appear...
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