Six Characters in Search of an Author

by Luigi Pirandello

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What is the style used in Six Characters in Search of an Author?

The most obvious style used in Six Characters in Search of an Author is the play within a play. Pirandello's absurdist masterpiece deliberately draws attention to its status as a play by the device of having actors rehearse their parts in Rules of the Game, another one of the playwright's works.

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In writing Six Characters in Search of an Author, Pirandello wanted to explore the gap between illusion and reality. Specifically, he wanted to shake the audience out of their complacency concerning what is or isn't real.

To this end, he employs the stylistic device of a play within a play. Rules of the Game, another of Pirandello's works, is being rehearsed by a troupe of actors. We're watching a group of actors playing another group of actors in a different play.

If that weren't confusing enough, the troupe of rehearsing actors is joined by the eponymous six characters, who have wandered in from an unfinished play by Pirandello. Thanks to their appearance, we now have another play within a play, bringing another level of confusion to proceedings.

As with the original play within a play, this one is expressly designed by the playwright to challenge our common conceptions of what constitutes reality. This is achieved by mixing reality with the illusions of dramatic art. In the resulting synthesis, we have neither total reality nor complete illusion, but rather a revolutionary new form of drama that partakes of both.

Yet as a consequence of this synthesis, the line between reality and illusion is never, for one moment, stable. It is constantly blurred, leaving us to consider just what is and isn't real and how we can possibly tell between the two.

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