Conformity and Convenience in Friedrich Durrenmatt's The Visit

1500 Words 6 Pages
Friedrich Durrenmatt’s epic tragicomedy The Visit is a haunting commentary on the nature of mankind and morality. Bringing to the surface many questions about the difference between justice and revenge, the play is constructed in a way that leaves the reader at once perplexed and conflicted. The difference between right and wrong is often overlooked and even contorted in order to conform with convenience as the citizens of the town become more desperate. The Visit is both a philosophical masterpiece and a harrowing tale of conditional morality.

From the very first mention of the millionairess Claire Zachanassian, the reader is barraged with philosophical questions about the difference between right and wrong. Ill shares stories about
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Ill returns to work after the Claire Zachanassian proposition and is met by several citizens of Guellen who are suddenly spending money quite frivolously. Several customers enter the store and buy the more expensive alternatives to their usual brandy and tobacco, and two women enter in brand new yellow shoes. Alll claim that they have bought these luxurious items “on account.” Upon realizing that the town is spending money they don’t have in anticipation of the Zachanassian reward for Ill’s murder, Ill becomes terrified. He begins to throw his wares at his customers and screams, “How are you going to pay? How? How (Durrenmatt 46)?”

After Ill comes to this horrifying realization, he immediately demands the arrest of Claire. The Policeman, however, informs Ill that there is no grounds to arrest Claire. He tells Ill,” We would only have a case of incitement of murder if the proposal to murder you were meant seriously. (Durrenmatt 48).”

The Policeman goes on to tell Ill to enjoy the good business, to be overjoyed. This new-found sense of optimism is no coincidence, though. The Policeman reveals to Ill that he also has bought new shoes and is now drinking more expensive beer, but is unable to tell Ill how he plans to pay for these items. As the scene progresses, it becomes more and more

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