Accidental Death of an Anarchist

Accidental Death of an Anarchist Metaphors and Similes

the Journalist as vulture

The Maniac compares the journalist to a vulture many times. When she asks why the Inspector is called the Window-Straddler and then later brings up the topic of undercover agents, he quietly says, "Fly away, come on, little vulture, nothing to see here." (58) As she nears the truth, asking how the anarchists could have pulled off such a complex operation without the police informants doing anything about the plan, he says, "Careful - vulture circling" (71). When she continues, noting that the inquiry judge himself thought the informant had lured the anarchists into an attack, he states, "The vulture has landed" (71). Vultures are birds that scavenge dead animals, although they may kill prey that is already in a weakened state. By using the term "vulture" to refer to the Journalist, the Maniac implies that the Inspector and the Superintendent are already "dead meat," the evidence clearly showing their culpability. Moreover, he implies that the Journalist has the power to destroy the two men through her exposition of the truth. 

Bertozzo's slapstick

In Act Two, only Bertozzo knows the Maniac's true identity, yet he is silenced every time he tries to reveal it. The policemen's slapstick actions are a metaphor for the way in which the authorities cover up falsehoods. However, the truth cannot be silenced forever. When the Maniac injects Bertozzo with a tranquilizer, it has no effect, and eventually Bertozzo forces the others to listen to him. The fact that he needs a gun and handcuffs in order to do so suggests how difficult it can be to get people to believe the truth. 

Switching the false hand for a woman's hand

The Maniac's wooden hand comes off two times, each time the result of being shaken by the Inspector or the Superintendent. Their eagerness to shake the false hand may symbolize their readiness to embrace a falsehood (the hand) if it benefits them, but those falsehoods can easily come undone. The second time the hand falls off, the Maniac replaces it with a woman's hand. By so doing, he may be demonstrating the ease with which falsehoods can be substituted for one another. Just as the woman's hand clearly doesn't fit a man, however, falsehoods can be recognized if observed carefully. 

the Maniac's disguises

The Maniac's many disguises can be viewed as a metaphor for the multiple layers of truth. These disguises become more and more complex as the play approaches its climax. The journalist believes the Maniac is truly a bishop who had been masquerading as a forensics officer, while the Inspector and the Superintendent believe he is really a judge who pretended to be both a forensics officer and a bishop. Only Bertozzo knows that all three personas are false, yet he doesn't understand why his colleagues are going to such lengths to silence him. Each observer thinks he or she is in possession of the truth, but in fact nobody but the Maniac knows the entire story. The metaphor suggests that we, too, may still be deceived if we believe we possess knowledge others don't have. 

insulting the Superintendent

The Maniac uses a simile when he tells the Superintendent, "Dealing with you is like doing one of those puzzle books bought by children and retards: 'Find the thirty-seven mistakes made by Inspector Barry Stupidhead'" (50). Such an insult incites derisive laughter towards the Superintendent while pointing out his many errors of judgment.