Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187

The Intruder by Maurice Maeterlinck is a play that explores the theme of death. In fact, the titular intruder is Death itself. This is hinted in the scene when the family members hear someone sharpening a scythe, which is associated with Death. The other main character of the story is...

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The Intruder by Maurice Maeterlinck is a play that explores the theme of death. In fact, the titular intruder is Death itself. This is hinted in the scene when the family members hear someone sharpening a scythe, which is associated with Death. The other main character of the story is the blind grandfather. He is the only one in the family who is psychically aware of the Grim Reaper. The other theme of the story is the internal dynamics of a family.

The mother is ill and has been sick since giving birth to her youngest child. The grandfather believes this is due to the fact that she had an incestuous relationship with her cousin. This shows the insularity of the family which is contrasted with the exclusion of the grandfather's opinions regarding the unseen intruder.

The other theme of the play is duality. This is seen throughout the story: light and darkness; noise and silence; male and female; life and death. The latter example of duality—life and death—become a symbiosis, which is symbolized by the crying of the newborn baby as the mother died.

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