The Balcony Jean Genet

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Jean Genet’s Le Balcon ( or The Balcony ) is an absurdist drama in which the chief construction is the “philosophical conflict between semblance and reality” ( Savona 1983: 76 ) and this essay will look into some of the degrees of world within an absurdist and existential philosopher context in Genet’s drama.

The drama itself “offers a stunningly theatrical geographic expedition of the relationship between phantasy and reality” ( Patterson 2005: 32 ) whilst besides seeking “to negate world itself” ( Innes 2001: 438 ) .

Whilst besides trying to transform world into a fantasy universe in which its characters can get away the discouragement of day-to-day life. it is “also designed to be a moving drama which… keeps the audience aware that it is a play” they are watching and non leting them to acquire lost in the universe of semblance.

phantasy and desire that the characters are trapped in ( Reck 1962: 23 ) . This echoes a technique used as portion of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt. and by maintaining the witness at a critical distance. they become perceivers and therefore can larn something about their ain lives and the universe in which they live.

Jean Genet The Balcony

The drama is set in Madame Irma’s Maison d’illusions ( or house of semblances ) which to the witness is clearly a whorehouse. but non a whorehouse in the conventional sense. In the whorehouse.

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work forces of mundane walks of life ( for illustration a pipe fitter ) act out sexual phantasies with the adult females that work at that place. Their sexual phantasies are by no agencies conventional either. for illustration the ‘clients’ of the whorehouses take on the character of powerful work forces. viz. a bishop. an executioner. a justice and a general.

From the expounding of the drama. it is ill-defined that the bishop isn’t really a bishop as the costume. duologue and action of the bishop are wholly reliable aside from the fact that the powerful characters “tower over all the other histrions every bit good as the audience” ( McMahon 1963: 110 ) . This is visually unrealistic and takes the witness off from pragmatism right from the oncoming. yet somehow pull them into this universe of semblance. The sexual Acts of the Apostless were intended by Genet to incorporate significance and non to be realistic.

They are merely projections. a series of images of adult male trapped in a hall of mirrors. non trying to convey naturalism in the slightest ( McMahon 1963: 176 ) and the characters’ “performance becomes contemplations of reflections” ( Innes 2001: 438 ) . As Esslin provinces in his The Theatre of the Absurd. “there are no characters in the conventional sense…merely the images of basic impulses and impulses” ( Esslin 2001: 22 ) . Image is of cardinal importance in the drama ; it is everything “for the deeper one moves into images the less danger there will be of reality’s coming back to oppugn the veracity of the images” ( McMahon 1963: 162 ) .

One of the cardinal subjects of the drama is the flight from world. and as T. S Eliot wrote “human sort can non bear much reality” ( 1964: 69 ) . one of the cardinal messages Genet is seeking to portray in his drama. There is a strong sense of the histrion unifying with the character in The Balcony ( Savona 1983: 86 ) . or the character unifying with the phantasy characters they attempt to portray in the whorehouse. or characters they so long to be. even for merely an hr or so.

This unauthentic relationship between world and phantasy reflects human nature and life itself – we have all at some point aspired. or even wished that we could be person else. person with power or regard. However as McMahon suggests “there is no aspiration within the motive of these people to be bishop. justice or general ; the bound of their aspirations knows its scope. and the cutting off point…is the thin line between pretension and reality” ( 1963: 160 ) . The drama takes a bend when the clients of the whorehouse are forced to take on the characters they are feigning to be for existent.

It is at this point that the semblance is destroyed and the work forces of mundane life no longer want the functions they are playing. For them. the functions are now excessively realistic and there is no flight from them – the relationship between world and phantasy has become reliable. When the characters are moving out their functions in the existent universe. they are no longer comforted by their imaginativeness ; they are faced with the rough world of life. the one thing that they have sought to get away in the first topographic point.

This is reinforced by the fact the characters are loath to help the head of constabulary and be “dragged from their dream universe into the abrasiveness and dangers of reality” ( Thody 1970: 186-187 ) . The revolution outside can be seen as a symbol of existent life. “Were it non for the revolution. the assorted characters could go on to play their games in the enclosed a-historical ambiance provided for them…but the revolution is at that place. and threatens at any minute to destruct their universe of semblance completely” ( Thody 1970: 179 ) .

During the drama. assorted sounds of gunshot can be heard in the background of the scenes – A menace from the existent universe outside reminding the characters they have tried to get away life and whilst this may be successful for the hr they are in the whorehouse. existent life is still traveling out outdoors. “Machine gun fire efforts to sabotage the thaumaturgy of semblance created and reflects Brecht’s distancing effect” ( Savona 1983: 89 ) .

Once once more Genet forces the witness to retrieve that they are watching a drama. but besides when we all hide behind the frontage of life. or seek and get away world. the existent universe is still really much at big in the background and we can’t ignore this! “The subject of semblance reaches its flood tide at the very terminal of the action. when Madame Irma comes to the forepart of the phase to remind the audience that they have. after all. merely been watching a play” ( Thody 1970: 185 ) . The witness is all of a sudden brought back to ‘the existent word’ holding witnessed histrions playing characters. characters playing characters. characters playing people.

The audience has taken the journey through Madam Irma’s ‘house of illusions’ . and has been presented with a theatrical projection of humanity through many planes of world. She tells the audience “you must now travel place. where everything – you can be rather certain – will be falser than here…You must now go” ( Genet 1966: 96 ) . She has highlighted that as worlds we have a inclination to conceal behind the frontage of life. to travel along with what we are told and what we see. therefore taking life for granted.

We so think back to the characters in the drama and gain how they are merely projections of ourselves. “Genet proclaims the semblance of world and the world of illusion” ( Nelson 1963: 61 ) . For the witness and the characters “reality has become indiscernible from illusion” ( Nelson 1963: 65 ) and the audience must inquire themselves where does reality stop and pretension Begins. BIBLIOGRAPHY Eliot. T. S. . Murder in the Cathedral ( Fort Washington PA: Harvest Books. 1964 ) Esslin. Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. 3rd Edition ( London: Metheun. 2001 ) .

Genet. Jean. The Balcony ( New York: Grove Press. 1966 ) Innes. Christopher. ‘Theatre After Two World Wars’ . in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Theatre. erectile dysfunction. by John Russell Brown ( Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001 ) . pp. 380-444. Macquarrie. John. Existentialism ( Baltimore: Pelican Books. 1972 ) McMahon. Joseph H. . The Imagination of Jean Genet ( New Haven: Yale University Press. 1963 ) Nelson. Banjamin. ‘The Balcony and Parisian Existentialism’ . The Tulane Drama Review. 7:3 ( 1963 ) . 60-79.

Oswald. Laura. Jean Genet and the Semiotics of Performance ( Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 1989 ) Patterson. Michael. The Oxford Dictionary of Plays ( Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005 ) Reck. Rima Drell. ‘Appearance and Reality in Genet’s Le Balcon’ . The New Dramatists. 29:1 ( 1962 ) . 20-25. Savona. Jeannette L. . Jean Genet ( London and Basingstoke: The Macmillan Press. 1983 ) Styan. J. L. . The English Stage ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1996 ) Thody. Philip. Jean Genet: A Survey of His Novels and Plays ( New York: Stein and Day. 1970 ) .

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The Balcony Jean Genet. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

The Balcony Jean Genet
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