Study Guide

The Verge

by Susan Glaspell

The Verge Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

Although The Verge received mixed reviews for its first production by the Provincetown Players in 1921, unfortunately, the majority of them were negative. Many of the reviewers reacted negatively because they found the play dense and confusing. Some were also put off by Claire’s view of the world. They found her to be unpleasant and annoying. Linda Ben-Zvi quotes Alexander Woollcott of the New York Times calling Claire ‘‘a neurotic and atypical woman,’’ and went on to say, ‘‘We greatly fear that the average playgoer will be offended by Miss Glaspell’s abject worship of the divinity of discontent.’’ Others, who did not understand the play, offhandedly dismissed it. As Gerhard Bach reports, the title of Percy Hammond’s review for the New York Herald pretty much sums up his opinion: ‘‘What The Verge Is About, Who Can Tell.’’ One of the things several reviewers did note about The Verge, however, was the techniques that it borrowed from German expressionism. The film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari had opened in the United States in the spring of 1921, just prior to the play’s production. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was a film that became well-known for its use of distorted sets and exaggerated visual elements, and reviewers saw many parallels between the film’s visual style and Glaspell’s theatrical style. As J. Ellen Gainor notes, ‘‘Reviewers at the time of its premier also saw...

(The entire section is 551 words.)