The Visit

The Ironic Tragicomedy 12th Grade

Plays are often written to make a statement about the world, or to provoke deeper thought from the audience. While many playwrights share the same overall goal, each playwright adopts his or her own style of writing. After adopting a certain style, playwrights are then given the option to customize their genre to meet their literary needs. In the case of Friedrich Durrenmatt, the writer opted to combine both tragedy and comedy within his play The Visit. As in many plays, Friedrich Durrenmatt makes use of allusions to increase the audience’s understanding of key characters. Durrenmatt develops the characters Claire Zachanassian, Alfred Ill, and the Schoolmaster with a complexity not found in the play’s other roles. In order to do so, Durrenmatt employs the use of allusions throughout The Visit. These allusions create multi-faceted characters which contribute to the situational irony of the tragicomedy.


One of the most important ironies within The Visit is the fact that Madam Claire Zachanassian did not become the obvious villain of the play. Madam Zachanassian offered “a million for Guellen if someone kills Alfred Ill” (Durrenmatt 38), which the Mayor promptly rejects “in the name of humanity” (39). The Mayor’s response...

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