The play, however, is less a modern skeptic’s dramatization of the dissolution of self than it is a forceful suggestion that truth is not an external, objective fact but an internal, psychological reality.
In demonstrating dramatically that Signora Ponza is both women, depending on what her perceiver chooses her to be, is a spectacularly theatrical play that leaves its audience as confused as the Stage Manager and Actors whom a family of Characters interrupts, hoping that they will dramatize its story.
The reply satisfies no one but Laudisi, but it is, as Signora Ponza understands, the only solution that compassion will allow.
In his monograph on (1966), Joseph Wood Krutch speaks of Pirandello as making the most crucial denial of all: the denial of the existence of a continuous, identifiable self.
In his inquiry into the nature of truth, Pirandello constructs and demolishes layers of illusion, probing the multiple perceptions and identities of his characters to reveal yet conceal the “naked mask.” In his fascination with his own power as artist-creator, he dramatizes the dialectic between the fluid, spontaneous, sprawling nature of life and the fixed, predictable, and contained nature of art.
The typical Pirandellian character—Signora Ponza in —presents himself through both “mask” and “face,” a dichotomy that is more generally reflected in the playwright’s treatment of theater as both illusory and real.Whatever Pirandello’s motivations for writing the piece—whether he wanted to protect himself from unflattering comparisons to his traumatized characters or address critics’ and audiences’ misinterpretation of his play—it remains a useful tool for understanding Though “[t]he mystery of artistic creation” may indeed be “the same mystery as natural birth,” Pirandello attempts here to dispel the mystery, to lay bare the cogs and gears of one artist’s imagination., Luigi Pirandello (28 June 1867 – 10 December 1936) playfully has one of his characters ask another to justify his incessant “harping on this illusion and reality string.” So persistent is Pirandello’s dramatic examination of the multiplicity of personality, the nature of truth, and the interplay between life and art that the term “Pirandellian” has become synonymous with the complexities that result from any attempt to define the fluid line between what is illusory and what is real.Believing that his wife had died, he refused to accept her as his wife on her return, marrying her a second time as though she were another woman.The two claims are logically irreconcilable: Signora Ponza cannot be both Ponza’s second wife and Signora Frola’s daughter.These accusations of incest, though unfounded, traumatized the family: his daughter attempted suicide, his wife was committed to a facility, and Pirandello retreated to his writing.If Pirandello distanced himself from his play, perhaps he only meant to distance himself from painful memories of the play’s inspiration: his own family disintegrating because of an alleged sexual scandal.The neatly constructed plot unfolds gradually as each new piece of information is revealed.Instead of adding to what has already been established, however, each new bit of information invalidates what was previously believed, leaving the town gossips, as well as the audience, suspicious and unsure.Caesar points out the uncomfortable parallel between the six characters’ drama—in which the family reacts to the knowledge that the father has inadvertently purchased sex from his step-daughter—and Pirandello’s own family situation.At the time Pirandello was first visited by the now-notorious six characters, his wife began exhibiting a type of schizophrenia that caused her to become convinced that her husband and daughter were having an affair.