Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Emily Stilson

Emily Stilson, a retired aviator in her seventies. She suffers a stroke and is taken to a hospital, where she recovers over a two-year period. The play presents both her internal thoughts and her external behavior. Internally, she remains intact, though she is extremely confused as to what has happened to her and where she is. Thrown back on her memories, she reaches the conclusion that, following an aviation accident, she is being held prisoner by unknown forces in a Romanian farmhouse disguised to look like a hospital. She interprets the doctors’ questions as attempts to pump her for information. Although she believes herself to be lucid, nothing but gibberish emerges when she speaks. At moments when her thinking becomes jumbled, she returns to memories of flying and walking on the wings of airplanes. When she realizes that her ability to express herself does not match her ability to generate thought within herself, she becomes angry and reacts violently. This reaction, indicative of a desire to communicate with others, brings her out of herself somewhat and advances her therapy. She essentially learns to speak all over again. As her condition improves, more of her memories become conscious. Her son takes her to an aircraft museum, where she finds that her hands automatically manipulate the controls even though she cannot recall how to use them and forgets again as soon as she is no longer in physical contact with the plane....

(The entire section is 490 words.)