Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Luigi Pirandello had one philosophical tenet that he proffered throughout his several hundred novellas, novels, and plays: Life is without rational, logical meaning, and humans struggle vainly to impose such meaning on the irrational and capricious events of their destinies. Each in His Own Way, written at the height of his career, is a comic expression of that central theme, as well as of the incommunicability of the true inner self because that truth is perhaps not known even to the self.

Diego Cinci, spokesman for Pirandello’s underlying polemic, declares that each person exists as an image created by others, that there are as many views of the self as there are viewers. Nothing within the person, neither the deepest affection nor the strongest loathing, remains constant. All of one’s ideas, beliefs, and judgments change in the restless turmoil of life, and only at rare moments of cataclysmic insight is one aware of one’s true feelings and motives. For the most part, passion dominates reason; each individual hides the truth from himself even more than he does from others, until at last he is forced to cry out as Delia does in her confusion: “What is truth? . . . I should like to see with my eyes, or hear with my ears, or feel with my fingers, one thing . . . just one thing . . . that is true . . . really true . . . in me!”

Pirandello’s view of personality as a great tangled massing of lie upon lie, of mask upon mask,...

(The entire section is 517 words.)