Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 364
Andorra is a play primarily about prejudice. The play centers around Andri, a supposedly Jewish orphan adopted into a beautiful, idyllic Andorran town. The people of Andorra, however, cannot get past their stereotypical view of Jewish people, and throughout the play, they are revealed to disdain and mistrust Andri for his supposed heritage. For example, when Andri’s father tries to get him apprenticed to a cabinetmaker, the cabinetmaker is reluctant because he thinks that Andri would make a better salesman. He proves himself right by immediately destroying Andri’s woodwork and criticizing its poor craftsmanship—even though the chair had been made by another apprentice (who does not intervene). Other characters insult Andri and even hurt him, such as the soldier, a rival for Andri’s romantic interest who trips him early in the play and later assaults him.
Thus, even when Andri is told repeatedly that he is not, in fact, Jewish, the lifelong mistreatment based upon that heritage leads him to adopt and embrace a Jewish identity anyway. Ultimately, the town’s prejudices, combined with miscommunications and omissions, lead to Andri’s death, as he is executed for a crime that he did not commit. Throughout the play, the action is broken by testimonies from many of the characters on a “witness stand” discussing Andri’s execution; even though many of them clearly contributed to his death, only one character, the priest of the town, acknowledges and admits his guilt.
Though the author of the play, Max Frisch, intended for the play to be about prejudices in general. His focus on antisemitism and the context of the play specifically associate it with post–World War II literature. Frisch, a Swiss author, wrote and published the play in the late 1940s, when the scars from World War II were still quite fresh in Europe. Many audience members may have even remembered how supposedly good people turned against each other during the war and how minorities became scapegoats in a time of fear and anger. It is thus easy to see why Frisch would make his main character suffer from negative Jewish stereotypes, as this would resonate most profoundly with a European audience.