Language and Literature
January 31, 2013
The Motif of Symbolic Prostitution in The Visit
The Visit, a tragic-comedy play written by Friedrich Dürrenmatt in 1956 shows a pessimistic vision of society. The play occurs in Guellen, a deprived town where Claire Zachanassian looks for financial salvation. The theme goes around the idea that society is based upon not fulfilled actions due to personal problems from the same population in The Visit. Throughout the play, it is quite evident how Claire´s attitudes and actions surge around the idea of symbolic prostitution, demonstrating how a society can come to depend on an individual´s behavior. The author is able to work constantly with this motif; the motif of symbolic prostitution. Understanding symbolic prostitution as the act of selling things, as the town of Guellen sells its soul and morality for gaining Claire´s offer; as well as Claire selling her sexuality disposition as she become a prostitute and meet Mr. Zachanassian. Throughout the play, Dürrenmatt demonstrates how Claire is able to gain knowledge of how to destroy others from Mr. Zachanassian, as she later does by divorcing her following husbands. To some extent, the author portrays several characteristics that can be present in a society when experiencing symbolic prostitution.
Claire Zachanassian develops herself throughout the play as she uses symbolic prostitution as a symbol to represent her knowledge gain from her past experiences. Ill rejects his paternity is what makes Claire leave Guellen and become a prostitute. Claire becoming a prostitute opens doors for her to meet Mr. Zachanassian. However, what changes most is her personality. She is able to gain power over the society, since her experience as a prostitute as well as marrying a millionaire teaches her to construct a solid mood. Because of Mr. Zachanassian’s wealth, as well as his strong personality, he is able to manage his society and take advantage of the power he has. Claire tries to learn as much virtues as possible from Mr. .Zachanassian personality and behavior; since she wants to have the same power. Therefore, Mr. Zachanassian unconscious is the one who helps Claire learn and gain power. In Act Two, Claire refers to Mr. Zachanassian as, “An exemplary man, that old tycoon. And millions more in cash. It was worth a marriage. A great teacher, and a great dancer; a real devil. I´ve copied him completely.”(42) She considers him a great teacher as well as a real devil. Mr. Zachanassian results as a role model for her, although he never notices it. As she mentions, “I´ve copied him completely”, referring the strength of the wonder she has over him. Claire also refers to him as an “old tycoon”, emphasizing the fact he was a business man. She portrays a deep comparison between an old tycoon and Mr. Zachanassian to highlight the hard work from his first husband. Claire does learn a lot of positive aspects from Mr. Zachanassian in order to gain power, revealing her admission for him as well as the satisfaction she takes with after marrying him as she refers her marriage is worthy.” Claire doesn’t see her marriage with Mr. Zachanassian as a link of true love; consequently feeling the same for her following marriages. After Zachanassian’s death, Claire keeps the money he left and becomes a millionaire. Once she learns how to gain power over a society, she is able to plan her following actions. Claire marries more than once after her first marriage; and because of the amount of money she owns, she is able to conquer her next husbands. To some extent, Claire becomes the symbol of prostitution, as she is able to compromise marriage from each of her following husbands. It´s not the theoretical concept of buying in terms of monetary value, instead it more close means to the idea that her money attracts those men who later marries her. Those marriages show neither respect nor consideration from Claire´s attitudes towards her...
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