The Pillowman Themes

The Pillowman Themes

The Effects of Abuse

Katurian and Michal grew up in a household where Katurian was kept safe from his parents and where Michal was physically abused by them. But the parents would allow Katurian to hear the torture they were conducting on his brother to the degree that it psychologically made his imagination be one of violence which comes out in his dark fairytales. These stories then are acted out by Michal as he connects torture and killing to what is normal from his relationship with his parents. This leads him to committing multiple murders.


Torture is a major theme in this play. It is revealed that Michal has been physically tortured by his parents and Katurian has been psychologically tortured. Ariel, one of the two cops in the play uses torture in order to get the information he needs out of the two men who he believes have conspired together to commit multiple murders of children. Ariel, like the two brothers was abused as a child and thus his use of torture is connected to his need to stop children from being hurt the same way he was.

The Power of Story

Katurian writes children's fairytales in hopes of becoming a famous writer. But, his work is incredibly dark and twisted. He writes of murder and sadness, stories which have such a profound effect upon his brother, that they lead Michal to killing children in the same manner it occurs in Katurian's stories. Thus the power of the written word becomes a vital responsibility to uphold that if wielded in the wrong way could produce grave consequences.

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