Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Andorra is a play about prejudice in general and anti-Semitism in particular. Max Frisch depicts a seemingly stable, close-knit, idyllic community that gradually succumbs to a form of prejudice that ultimately destroys several of its members. Ironically, the Andorrans possess precisely those qualities that they ascribe to the Jews and thus to Andri: They themselves are shown to be greedy, ambitious, cowardly, and devoid of feelings. To make matters worse, some time after the tragedy, these individuals appear on the witness stand virtually unchanged. With the exception of the priest, they still fail to recognize their own roles in the tragic sequence of events and steadfastly refuse to accept any responsibility for Andri’s death. Judging from the persisting self-deception and hypocrisy, effectively symbolized in the recurring whitewashing of the walls of Andorra, the playwright seems to be rather skeptical about humankind’s ability to change.

The theme of prejudice is closely linked to another related theme that is of central importance in Frisch’s oeuvre: the individual’s search for identity. At first, Andri is an ordinary young man trying to fit into the society in which he lives. Continuously confronted with prejudicial remarks, he begins to conduct himself in accordance with his reputation. Ultimately, he forsakes his true identity and adopts that which is imposed upon him: He accepts himself as what he is not. The play’s tension and...

(The entire section is 411 words.)