Aleksandr Blok Drama Analysis

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Although Aleksandr Blok was primarily a poet, he exhibited a high interest in theater. More significant, he drew most of the material for his plays from his poetry. He contributed plays that are either Symbolist in nature or highly lyrical, reflecting his chief vocation of poet. Most of his plays mirror his personal concerns and experiences, such as his love affairs or the spirit of the time. He was highly interested in Russian theater life, dealing with leading dramaturgists, even though they did not always see eye to eye when the production of his plays was involved.

The Puppet Show

The main theme of Blok’s first significant play, The Puppet Show, underscores a discrepancy between reality and illusions. Throughout the play, Blok indulges in an interplay between the Author as a character and Death, couched in Symbolist mysticism. The main denouement moves along the lines of attempts at reconciling the two. In a typical commedia dell’arte fashion, three couples in love at a masked ball represent different types of love: romantic, passionate, and magical. To the Author, who frequently interrupts the play, romantic irony concerning these love types predominates because life is different from Author’s intentions. To solve this dilemma, Blok uses the devices of a puppet show, borrowed from his book of poems by the same title. The three main puppets carrying on the action are Columbine, the Eternal Feminine, her lover Harlequin, and the buffoon Pierrot—all staples of Romantic comedy. Pierrot is also pursuing Columbine, in fact searching for “the beautiful life,” but his pursuit turns futile. When he finally approaches Columbine, clad in white like Death, the Author intercedes, complaining that the actors have taken the play out of his hands. All actors suddenly disappear, and Pierrot is left alone on the stage. Through this, Blok pokes fun at his earlier dreams and visions, especially at his passionate love for Sophia (actually, his wife Lyubov Mendeleyeva), at his hopes and disappointments in love, wife, and friends, all of which turn into puppets or cardboard. Thus Blok, through the character Author, declares that he has been fooled by false beliefs and has trusted people who turned out only to look like people. There is no question that Pierrot represents Blok himself, Columbine his wife Lyubov, and Harlequin his friend Andrey Bely, who had an illicit relationship with Lyubov. The discrepancy between real life and illusion in The Puppet Show signals the beginning of Blok’s turning away from Symbolism and gradually toward a more realistic approach to life and poetry.

The Unknown Woman

Blok’s second play, derived directly from his poetry, The Unknown Woman, deals again with his...

(The entire section is 1137 words.)