The Motif of Symbolic Prostitution in The Visit Essay

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The Visit, a tragic-comedy play written by Friedrich D¼rrenmatt in 1956 shows a pessimistic vision of society. The play occurs in Guellen, a deprived town where Claire Zachanassian looks for financial salvation. The theme goes around the idea that society is based upon not fulfilled actions due to personal problems from the same population in The Visit. Throughout the play, it is quite evident how Claire´s attitudes and actions surge around the idea of symbolic prostitution, demonstrating how a society can come to depend on an individual´s behavior. The author is able to work constantly with this motif; the motif of symbolic prostitution.

Understanding symbolic prostitution as the act of selling things, as the town of Guellen sells its soul and morality for gaining Claire´s offer; as well as Claire selling her sexuality disposition as she become a prostitute and meet Mr. Zachanassian. Throughout the play, D¼rrenmatt demonstrates how Claire is able to gain knowledge of how to destroy others from Mr. Zachanassian, as she later does by divorcing her following husbands. To some extent, the author portrays several characteristics that can be present in a society when experiencing symbolic prostitution.

Claire Zachanassian develops herself throughout the play as she uses symbolic prostitution as a symbol to represent her knowledge gain from her past experiences. Ill rejects his paternity is what makes Claire leave Guellen and become a prostitute. Claire becoming a prostitute opens doors for her to meet Mr. Zachanassian. However, what changes most is her personality. She is able to gain power over the society, since her experience as a prostitute as well as marrying a millionaire teaches her to construct a solid mood. Because of Mr. Zachanassians wealth, as well as his strong personality, he is able to manage his society and take advantage of the power he has. Claire tries to learn as much virtues as possible from Mr. .Zachanassian personality and behavior; since she wants to have the same power.

Therefore, Mr. Zachanassian unconscious is the one who helps Claire learn and gain power. In Act Two, Claire refers to Mr. Zachanassian as, An exemplary man, that old tycoon. And millions more in cash. It was worth a marriage. A great teacher, and a great dancer; a real devil. I´ve copied him completely.(42) She considers him a great teacher as well as a real devil. Mr. Zachanassian results as a role model for her, although he never notices it. As she mentions, I´ve copied him completely, referring the strength of the wonder she has over him. Claire also refers to him as an old tycoon, emphasizing the fact he was a business man.

She portrays a deep comparison between an old tycoon and Mr. Zachanassian to highlight the hard work from his first husband. Claire does learn a lot of positive aspects from Mr. Zachanassian in order to gain power, revealing her admission for him as well as the satisfaction she takes with after marrying him as she refers her marriage is worthy. Claire doesnt see her marriage with Mr. Zachanassian as a link of true love; consequently feeling the same for her following marriages. After Zachanassians death, Claire keeps the money he left and becomes a millionaire. Once she learns how to gain power over a society, she is able to plan her following actions.

Claire marries more than once after her first marriage; and because of the amount of money she owns, she is able to conquer her next husbands. To some extent, Claire becomes the symbol of prostitution, as she is able to compromise marriage from each of her following husbands. It´s not the theoretical concept of buying in terms of monetary value, instead it more close means to the idea that her money attracts those men who later marries her. Those marriages show neither respect nor consideration from Claire´s attitudes towards her husbands, treating them like accessories, You only have husbands for display purposes, they shouldn´t be useful. (86)

Instead, they are closer likened to a relationship where one takes advantage on the other. Claire feels as she has enough strength to manage power over them, without carrying of their wealth. She then focuses on her own benefits and ways to succeed seeking for revenge as she has a strong resentment with the town of Guellen. There´s no moment in were Claire refers her actions as if she destroys her husbands, however the audience might infer the hidden porpoise for each of her personal behaviors. During act one, Claire returns to Guellen [she knew] what the world´s is like¦ Because [she] own it. (30) Claire feeling that she owns the world exposes the fact that she does feel superior to others.

She returns to Guellen being sure of what she wants besides all her rough past she lives at that town. Saying you own the world, falls on the interpretation that you feel powerful enough and superior to those who surrounds you. The power Claire builds comes from the revenge she seeks after feeling hurt by Ill, which later helps her to maintain power and buy society. In the play, Claire´s actions is what helps to prove that she has power over almost everyone, still Ill never falls under her temptation to control everyone known as symbolic prostitution.

Claire leaves Guellen and becomes a prostitute, but years later she returns to the city after becoming rich. She wants to take advantage of it to revenge what Ill did to her when they were young. It can be understood that Ill is the one who provokes Claire to become a prostitute due to the fact that he rejects the paternity of her child. Claire feels that he destroyed her life and feels the necessity to kill him in order to take revenge. Ill is the only one who was never been manipulated by Claire, he is not as the rest of her husbands and thats why she has come back. Prostitution changes Claire´s mentality and when she returns she wants to kill the person that once was the love of her live, Ill. Claire says, And I´m paying. Guellen for a murder, a boom for a body. Come on, the pair of you, off we go!(67) She directs her words in such a harsh way, making reference to the power she has and how the rest of the people are meaningless.

Claire being a prostitute once in her past turns up to be the reason why she becomes a stronger person in every aspect, but nevertheless there´s neither resentment nor uncertainty about the actions she takes. Throughout act two, when Claire talks with the Doctor and Schoolmaster about her marriages, she emphasizes on the idea that her marriages are worthless, It´s my second shortest marriage. Only the one with Lord Ishmael was a trifle quicker. (64)

When Claire describes her marriages as short, she portrays the idea that she is an unsentimental woman that doesn´t give importance to feelings such as love. By knowing Claire´s unsentimentalism, it is easier to understand the hurry she has to kill Ill because for her money and power are more important than anything; even the life of a person. Thus it can be realize how unfair may societies turn to be when their interests go around money. Claire is able to manage symbolic prostitution by manipulating many men, as she divorces all her marriages by gaining something from them; however what happen with Ill was different.

Throughout the play, D¼rrenmatt uses symbolic prostitution as a motif to express his vision over society towards the audience. He is constantly making references to Claire as a prostitute and how later she learns how to manage society through negative attitudes. It is unbelievable how many times money can end up buying a society approval, as in The Visit when money bought Ill´s life.

Guelleners end up experiencing a situation where only money matters and everything goes around Claire´s power and desires. The people of this town end up converting into a false society when they accept Claire´s money to kill Ill by betraying his trust. The play develops as Claire learns from Mr. Zachanassian, then destroys and abandons her husbands and finally killing Ill, all around the way she took advantage of symbolic prostitution and demonstrated her power over society. Word Count: 1390

D¼rrenmatt, Friedrich. The Visit. Trans. Patrick Bowles.New York: Grove Press, 1990. Print.

Reflective Statement The Visit

Friedrich D¼rrenmatt, a Swiss author, uses his tragic-comedy, The Visit, to somehow criticize Europeans´ cultural and social values. When I read the play I understand how he attempts to interpret the lies of the Germans´ cultural values, for example their tolerance for cultural differences and neutral influence; this can be seen during the Second World War. Friedrich uses motifs as a technique to express Capitalism in order to criticize the danger that can bring to the Europeans; shown by Claire Zachanassian (main character) who wants citizens of Guellen to kill a man. When discussing among the class about the easy or difficult aspects and issues from the Germans, I understood better why relationships and reputation (Claire´s example) might become easy at some point of the story as well as difficult in other.

It is easy to comprehend why Claire moves to Hamburg and turns to be a prostitute; which mainly occurs because she feels lonely when Ill refuses their child as his daughter. On the other hand, Claire´s behavior to some extent becomes difficult to understand because how come a woman can use her husbands just to get money from them. After Claire leaves Guellen, her only desire is to become rich and everything else turns to be meaningless for her. Friedrich also uses irony in order to see the unfairness of the trial, how absurd may be, as well as the individuals characters personality through dramatic irony, verbal and situational as well as he uses satire to see manipulation from characters.

The constant appear of new characters allow to create an image of the play (scenery) as well as to understand the interaction occurring within them. We talked about how culture influence the play, their standards of life, impunity, money and social classes all related in one word which was power.

Social pressure was a big factor that then lead we see how authorities could also influence mass and individuals. Throughout the play, human ambition is characterized as stronger than any ethical behavior among society. I found this discussion interesting, as it clarified some aspects of the novel. It helped all of us to realize the world in which we are living, a world which is not necessary as little as Guellen but may have the same qualities and desires.

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