Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author”


The play written by Luigi Pirandello in 1921 under the title Six Characters in Search of an Author is an example of a drama that utilizes the method of theatre-in-theatre. The author is a Nobel Prize-winning Italian writer and dramatist. As the title implies, the play concentrates around six characters of an unfinished play who come to a theatrical rehearsal to find an author who could place the acts in order and, thus, bring meaning to the existence of the characters. The Producer and real actors interact with the six characters trying to resolve their issues but fail to find any reasonable solution to the twisted relationships between them.

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The scholarly article chosen for the paper is Ali Jamalinesari’s “Anima/Animus and Wise Old Man in Six Characters in Search of an Author.” It explicitly articulates the issues of missing identities through the perspective of the psychological idea of a wise old man. The author of the research is a scholar working for the Department of English Language and Literature at the Islamic Azad University and is an author of multiple articles on the topics of literature and psychology.

The Absence of an Author as the Absence of the Sense of Life in Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello

During a rehearsal at a theatre, a family of six characters with difficult relationships between its members enters the stage. They are the characters of an unwritten play, and they need to find “any author” for their lives to find meaning (Pirandello 4). Therefore, they ask the Manager to become their author and lead them through the play. The drama is strikingly complex in its diversity of characters involved in the multifaceted portrayal of both, the inside theatre work, and the illusionary characters that become a reality. Pirandello cultivates the idea of the process of the search for the advisor as to the way of finding answers to the eternal question of life: what one’s identity is.

Interestingly, the six characters become real participants of the play, and their search for an author becomes the only way for them to continue their lives. It is their only way out – to find anyone to lead them through the stage of life because their meaningless existence is suffering. The Father describes this situation as the worst option “to be born of an author’s fantasy, and be denied life by him,” when the characters are “left alive, and yet without life” (Pirandello 41). However, even in their struggle to find an author as a leader who could provide reasonable solutions to their problems, the characters fail because the Manager cannot perform as an author.

The Idea of a Wise Old Man in the Article by Jamalinesari

The interpretation of the search of an author according to Jung’s idea about a wise old man is sound and well-developed. It is one of the main “archetypes” which are present in many literary works and often are portrayed as the last resort for a character to find an important solution to a difficult problem (Jamalinesari 33). As Jamalinesari states, the wise old man might be considered from two perspectives: as an author and as a producer.

The scholar argues that the six characters can only become alive on the stage when they can find someone who can write their plot on paper and play it in the theatre. In Jamalinesari’s opinion, “the author implies the wise old man figure, who is not present in the story and cannot help the characters to achieve and find their lives and identities” (35). From the second perspective, where the Producer is regarded as a wise old man, the characters are doomed to suffering because the producer fails to take them seriously and does not know how to lead the characters through the complexity of the plots of their lives.

The Critique of the Article

There are several points in the scholarly article that might be either agreed with or argued. The Jungian approach is very reasonable and applies to one of the main ideas of the play. It is very insightful that since it derives from the very title of the drama, the search of the authors seems to be dominant for the characters and identifies the search for the meaning of their lives. Jamalinesari suggests that there are two aspects of a wise old man in the play: an author and a producer.

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However, the dual approach to the identification of a wise old man seems wrong because there should be only one perspective of this archetype – the author who is absent. The lack of an author implies the absence of the solution to the problem and, therefore, brings more intensity to the drama. Thus the cast is forced to improvise and resolve their issues on their own. Despite the absence of an author in the play, his/her importance is crucial because, without him/her, the characters are doomed.


In summary, the play Six Characters in Search of an Author by Pirandello portrays a theatre-in-theatre where the imaginary characters are the participants of real life. Reading of the article was worthwhile because the author provides an insightful interpretation of the search for an author as the manifestation of a wise old man archetype who can offer solutions for any problem. However, the absence of an author implies the lack of a wise man, thus provoking the character to find their identities on their own and fail to succeed at it. The article was well-written and well-intended and initiated a fruitful consideration of significant philosophical issues contained in the literary work.

Works Cited

Jamalinesari, Ali. “Anima/Animus and Wise Old Man in Six Characters in Search of an Author.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, 2015, pp. 33-36.

Pirandello, Luigi. Six Characters in Search of an Author. Translated by Edward Storer, E. P. Dutton, 1922.

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