The Visit

Examining Claire Zachanassian in Act One of The Visit

In Act One of The Visit, the character of Claire Zachanassian makes her first appearance in Guellen, and it is also when we see the main reason why she has come to Guellen: to “buy” justice for the injustice that was done to her many years ago by Alfred Ill. Dürrenmatt raises two main themes through his portrayal of Claire Zachanassian in Act One, specifically those of dehumanization and whether everything can bought.

At the start of Act One, Claire Zachanassian, a millionaire, has just arrived in Guellen early because she pulled the Emergency Brake on the train. This act alone signifies her power, as it shows that she does not follow the rules that everyone lives by. The fact that she gets away with it proves that she is above everyone else; the same laws do not apply to her, and she is also able to change the laws for everyone else. In Claire’s point of view, she was right to pull the Emergency Brake, because doing so is more convenient for her. (“Are you really and truly asking me to go puffing round this countryside for half an hour?”)

Her strange habit of giving nicknames to her employees and her husbands suggests that she is dehumanizing everyone else around her by putting them in a status far below her own. The way she...

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