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Character change in the major plays of Jean Genet Clark, Valerie Stuart 1980

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CHARACTER CHANGE IN THE MAJOR PLAYS OF JEAN GENET by VALERIE STUART/CLARK B.A. (H o n s . ) , (Ylount A l l i s o n U n i v e r s i t y , 1970 B.L.S., U n i v e r s i t y of A l b e r t a , 1974 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS \ i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of T h e a t r e ) We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g t o the r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1980 ( S ) V a l e r i e S t u a r t C l a r k , 1 9 8 0 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Brit ish Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of Brit ish Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 6 ABSTRACT In Jean Genet's t h r e e major p l a y s , The B a l c o n y , The B l a c k s and The S c r e e n s , t h e r e i s a p r e d o m i n a t i n g emphasis on the m a n i p u l a t i o n of d r a m a t i c i d e n t i t i e s . T h i s s t u d y t r a c e s Genet's cha n g i n g and d e v e l o p i n g use of the d r a m a t i c c o n v e n t i o n of c h a r a c t e r change as a means of c h a r a c t e r development. Two c h a r a c t e r s a r e drawn from each p l a y f o r e x a m i n a t i o n from the p o i n t of view of c h a r a c t e r change. C h a r a c t e r i n t h e drama i s i d e n t i t y i n a c t i o n and t r u e change i n a c h a r a c t e r ' s d r a m a t i c i d e n t i t y must be accompanied by the d i s s o l u t i o n , or death of t h e f i r s t i d e n t i f y i n g a c t i o n and the a p p e a r a n c e / or r e b i r t h of a new. The form o f death can v a r y and the new i d e n t i t y can m a n i f e s t i t s e l f i n d i f f e r e n t ways, but a l l c h a r a c t e r changes must be a c c o m p l i s h e d t h r o u g h some form of d r a m a t i c death and r e b i r t h . In The B a l c o n y c h a r a c t e r change i s p u r e l y a m e c h a n i c a l i n t e r v e n t i o n by the p l a y w r i g h t , s i g n a l l e d t o t h e a u d i e n c e by d i f f e r e n t costumes and new names. In The B l a c k s t h e s t a g i n g of the c h a r a c t e r changes i s more l i t e r a l and c o n c r e t e , and c a r r i e s some of the s e r i o u s i n t e n t of r i t u a l . F i n a l l y , i n The S c r e e n s c h a r a c t e r changes grow more o r g a n i c a l l y from the s i t u a t i o n s and from t h e e v o l v i n g needs of the c h a r a c t e r s . D r a m a t i c l i f e i n Genet i n c l u d e s d e a t h , and the deaths of c h a r a c t e r s i n t h e s e p l a y s i s most o f t e n a t r a n s i t i o n i n t o the s t a t e of l i v i n g d e a t h . As t h e p l a y s p r o g r e s s , death i s made more and more p r o m i n e n t u n t i l i n The S c r e e n s i t i s of e q u a l i m p o r t a n c e w i t h l i f e . i i Revolution i s a s o c i a l version of death and rebirth and i s st r u c t u r a l l y p a r a l l e l to the process of character change. The repetitious aspect of revolution as i t i s used in these plays also echoes the death/ rebirth metaphor of character change. It i s with the main character in The Screens that Genet i s f i n a l l y able to successfully interlock the themes of death and revolution. Said i s the most well-developed character found in Genet's work. Genet's development as a dramatist led from purely .schematic character changes to the organic, subtle evolution of characterization in Said. This study shows that Said's struggle for h i e r a t i c status through character change i s integrated with the plot of The Screens, making Said the perfect embodiment of Genet's world view expressed through drama. Genet was gradually able to integrate plot with character development—one of the most important accomplishments in his playwrit'ingr.But character change i s the essential mode of character development in The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens, creating wider dramatic p o s s i b i l i t i e s , carrying events forward, giving shape to the action and determining the shape of the plays. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT i i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v INTRODUCTION 1 Notes 9 CHAPTER I The Balcony 10 Notes 31 CHAPTER II The Blacks 32 Notes 53 CHAPTER III The Screens 54 Notes 76 CONCLUSION ... 77 BIBLIOGRAPHY .- 84 iu ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish.to•thank DF. Donald Soule of the Department of Theatre for his assistance and encouragement during the preparation of this thesis. ... INTRODUCTION Jean Genet was born an i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d in France in 1910 and abandoned to the care of public i n s t i t u t i o n s . The singularity of his background provided him with a slant on human experience which i s seldom staged with such directness; the universe of the moral deviant. At an early age he committed theft, beginning a chain of crimes and convictions that f i n a l l y led to l i f e imprisonment. However, his writing had by that time come to the attention of i n t e l l e c t u a l c i r c l e s and, after Jean Cocteau and Jean-Paul Sartre appealed to the French President on his behalf in 1948, Genet was pardoned and released. Although apparently removed from overt criminal a c t i v i t y after this time, he sustained a v i t a l interest in the subversive morality so familiar to him from his past, and th i s deeply affected his plays. He remains tenaciously l o y a l to an inverted morality which runs through his plays l i k e a strong current. One of the l o g i c a l extensions of th i s inversion of conventional morality i s his interest in the concept of anti-Christ, the criminal as saint. "I thus resolutely rejected a world which had rejected me," he says in the autobiographical The Thief's Journal, published in 1949j twelve years l a t e r with the publication of The Screens, we find the dramatic embodiment of this same philosophy in the protagonist, Said. These two interests--the repudiation of a soci a l order that repudiated him and an enduring fascination with the anti-Christ figure—combine to produce a predominant thematic motif in his plays: the protagonist's search for h i e r a t i c status through the 2 practice of e v i l . Because the dramatic focus i s on th i s search, the emphasis in The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens i s on characterization. Genet's exploration of a moral-aesthetic ideal through the pursuits of the main characters provides a connective thread through these plays. Examin-ation from the point of view of character change shows Genet's manipulation of dramatic i d e n t i t i e s as he t r i e s to express this ideal in dramatic terms. In the drama a character i s wholly the creation of the playwright, with no independent or continuing existence outside the context of the play i t s e l f . Harold Rosenberg has said in his essay "Character Change and the Drama," the playwright determines "in advance that the character's emotions, his thoughts and his gestures should correspond with and earn in every respect the fate prepared for him. . . In short, because the dramatist fbas] created his characters he |jcan] maintain the re l a t i o n between 2 their emotions, their thoughts and their destinies." One way to define character in the drama i s to say i t i s identity in action. Rosenberg says: "In contrast with the person recognized by the continuity of his being, we may designate the character defined by the coherence of his acts as an 3 ' i d e n t i t y . ' " The dramatic character, then, has an identifying action within the context of the s c r i p t and i t i s from t h i s action that we derive his dramatic i d e n t i t y . This dramatic identity remains constant u n t i l the character's identifying action i s altered, at which point he i s said to have undergone character change. But in order for character change to occur, the old identifying action must give way to make room for the new. This process may be seen as a process of death and re b i r t h , as "the dissolution 4 of identity and the reappearance of the individual in a 'reborn' state." 3 Of course dramatic death need not represent the organic death we are familiar with in real l i f e : "Death in the drama means only the cessation of the 5 character's action and the impossibility of his taking i t up again." When the new identifying action i s taken up the character i s reborn, a changed dramatic i d e n t i t y . Rosenberg's conception i s useful in looking at character change as a dramatic convention in The Balcony, The Blacks, and The Screens. Character change i s the essential mode of character development, creating wider dramatic p o s s i b i l i t i e s as the character's actions are f i t t e d to his destiny. It can also be used to carry dramatic events forward, giving shape to the action and s i g n i f i c a n t l y determining the structure of the play. For example, character change can occur when i t i s required for the continued progression of dramatic events: once the f i r s t identifying action has served i t s dramatic function and i s no longer useful to the plot, i t must be replaced. In order that one identity be replaced by another, however, the playwright must subject the character to some form of dramatic death. In speaking of this death or brush with death, Rosenberg draws an interesting p a r a l l e l between the phenomena of rel i g i o u s conversion and character change, a p a r a l l e l which points up the f l e x i b i l i t y of character change when used in the drama: . . . the fact that the phenomenon of relig i o u s conversion i s the only one which actually effects a change of identity in the l i v i n g person, in which through the touch of death a course of l i v i n g i s annulled and another substituted without rupturing the organic continuity of the in d i v i d u a l , relates-.religion and drama in a peculiar way. To present identity-replacement in a credible manner the dramatist must imitate the experience of r e l i g i o n and subject his character to the ordeal of death. But he may do so in terms of action alone and without adopting any metaphysical supposition as to the cause of the change. In a word, dramatic death and regeneration need not be involved in f a i t h : there i s the death-laden incident; then occurs a transfer of g id e n t i t i e s within the single figure, a change of faces behind the mask. 4 Therefore, the form of dramatic death can vary and the new identity can manifest i t s e l f in different ways. For example, the death-laden incident can be represented by mere absence or i t can be the act of putting on a mask, l i t e r a l l y superimposing a new identity over an old one. The audience does not have to witness the change, which can be almost i n v i s i b l y accom-plished or can be made a t h e a t r i c a l event in i t s e l f ; the change can be revealed through dialogue after i t has occurred or i t can be discerned through changed goals or behaviour of the character. But for true character change to take place the character must be subjected to some form of dramatic death and re b i r t h . A l l dramatic characters are bound by the laws of the s c r i p t ; any semblance to natural behaviour i s contrived. Despite t h i s , i t i s passible, by a careful choice of d e t a i l in rel a t i o n to costume, manner, blocking and speech, to give the audience the impression they are watching organic human beings who are complex characters drawn from l i f e , who think, feel and act in recognizably human ways. But i t i s never Genet's intention to create the fourth-wall i l l u s i o n : I t r i e d to establish a d i s t a n t i a t i o n which, in allowing a declamatory tone, would carry the theatre into the theatre. I thus hoped also to obtain the abol i t i o n of characters. . . and to replace them by symbols as far removed as possible, at f i r s t , from what they are to s i g n i f y . . . in short, to make the characters op, the stage merely the metaphors of what they were to represent. . . . Because he avoids creating the i l l u s i o n of organic personalities which have grown and evolved through experience, his characters are abstract and schematic, making them p a r t i c u l a r l y apt subjects for change. By t h i s means 5 Genet has free range for the expression of his theatri c a l designs without being overly concerned with r e a l i s t i c a l l y plausible motivation or even plausible objectives. He i s a playwright of ideas whose characters embody his personal, exclusive view of the world. Through The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens he rele n t l e s s l y negotiates his main characters toward becoming eternal images in death, but i t i s only with The Screens that he i s able to perfectly a r t i c u l a t e his ideal through the action and character-ization of Said. I r o n i c a l l y , this play has more organic shading and a more natural development than either The Balcony or The Blacks-. There i s a certain degree of evolution allowed as Said progresses toward his destiny, a gradual unfolding of events and character actions, leaving room for discovery, both for the character and the audience. Death in Genet's plays i s completely abstracted from death in the real world. To the characters in The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens death i s another form of l i f e , bringing neither suffering nor f i n a l i t y . In fact, the immobility of death holds great attraction for these characters because i t represents freedom from the chaos and struggle of l i v i n g , but without the loss of l i f e normally associated with dying. This i s possible for the characters in these three plays since in Genet dramatic l i f e includes death. Death grows in importance as part of his schema u n t i l , in The Screens, the realm of the dead i s presented as prominent and v i s i b l e , with a peace-f u l and transcendent group of cohabitants. Biol o g i c a l death has become no more than an event marking the commencement of another existence. But apart from this s p e c i f i c use of the concept of death, Genet has f i l l e d the plays with references to death. Besides the deaths of 6 characters by shooting, strangulation or poison, there are deaths of roles as one character plays a new role; wishes and preparations for death; communication between the l i v i n g and the dead; and, above a l l , the general message that l i f e before death i s a burden, and that the st a s i s of l i f e after death can be man's greatest reward. This constant reference to death i s l i k e an obsession, and certainly provides a common denominator for the three plays. Genet once said, "Everything should work together to break Q down whatever separates us from the dead." Just as death i s the mode of theme and character unity in The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens, revolution i s the common plot context. Revolu-tion i s the structural backbone in these three plays, in that the most important dramatic events hinge on the existence of revolutionary circumstances. At the root of the purpose of revolt l i e s another of Genet's favoured themes: the destruction of one power structure in order that a new one take i t s place; in turn, i t w i l l also be overthrown and replaced, always feeding the eternal cycle of repetition. Revolution i s a socia l version of death and rebirth and is s t r u c t u r a l l y p a r a l l e l to the process of character change in the drama. Rosenberg brings the concepts of revolution and the identity change into mesh in the conclusion of his essay: Individuals are conceived as i d e n t i t i e s in systems whose subject matter i s action and the judgement of actions. In this realm the multiple incidents in the l i f e of an individual may be synthesized, by the choice of the individual himself or by the decision of others, into a scheme that pivots on a single fact central to the individual's existence and which, controlling his behaviour and deciding his fate, becomes his v i s i b l e d e f i n i t i o n . Here unity of the "plot" becomes one with the unity of being and throughgthe f i x i t y of identity change becomes synonymous with revolution. Successful revolution and character change consist of the same underlying process. It was not u n t i l he wrote The Screens that Genet was able to completely interlock the two processes in the character Said's fate. Although revolt i s an essential part of the action in a l l the plays, i t i s progressively brought into greater prominence u n t i l , in The Screens, i t i s truly integrated with the dramatic l i f e on stage. Genet tends to use the offstage in several particular ways. F i r s t , i t often represents r e a l i t y as opposed to the i l l u s i o n of what i s actually seen on stage. In The Balcony there are as many references to the real world outside the brothel as there are to the i l l u s i o n s within, and in The Blacks i t i s the offstage t r i a l that i s r e a l , the onstage one that i s ceremonial. Second, the offstage i s frequently a magical area from which characters return s l i g h t l y or substantially changed} at such times the character's absence can be read as a form of dramatic deathr-in fact, the Envoy in The Balcony equates absence with death. F i n a l l y , i t i s with The Screens that the offstage takes on new dimensions as the place that goes beyond death to a dwelling place of the gods, a realm beyond temporal i t y yet always accessible to the imagination. It i s just such a place that David Cole names the i l l u d tempus i n his book The Theatrical Event; "Most re l i g i o n s possess the concept of an ill u d - tempus, a time of origins. . . when gods walked the earth, men v i s i t e d the sky, and the great archetypal events of myth. . . took place." For his discussion of theatre, Cole draws on r e l i g i o n and mythology for a 8 vocabulary which places man's t r a d i t i o n a l understanding of these areas of human experience at the heart of the th e a t r i c a l event. He refers to the sc r i p t as the home of the i l l u d tempus with "the potential to be, at any 11 moment, among us" through performance. To him, theatre i s a way to make present alternate, imaginative r e a l i t i e s that could otherwise only be conceptualized. A separate study would be required to deal with Cole's ideas in any depth i n re l a t i o n to Genet's work, but even the extremely limited use of a few concepts from The Theatrical Event i s helpful in discussing The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens. In each of these plays there are characters who die to transcend l i f e , to become emblems in an eternity resembling the i l l u d tempus Cole describes. The r i t u a l , the spectacle, the effrontery of Genet's plays combine to present one dramatist's imaginative universe, certainly an alternate r e a l i t y to the one familiar to most audiences. Despite the abstract and s t y l i z e d view of human experience presented by Genet, his characters do have recognizable human ambitions: they want to give meaning to their l i v e s when there i s none; to enhance their fate by transcending personal and socia l l i m i t a t i o n s . But always, there must be some form of death before a character can be reborn a changed dramatic ide n t i t y . Not a l l characters achieve identity change. In the following chapters, two characters from each of the plays w i l l be studied from the point of view of character change. Genet's use of this dramatic convention changes and develops through The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens. 9 NOTES  INTRODUCTION 1. Genet, Jean, The Thief's Journal, trans. Bernard Frechtman (Paris: L i b r a i r i e Gallimard, 1949; reprint ed., New York: Bantam, 1965), p. 75 2. Rosenberg, Harold, "Character Change in the Drama," in Perspectives in  the Drama, ed. James L. Calderuiood and Harold E. Toliver (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 326 3. Ibid., p. 3'25 4. Ibid., p. 335 5. Ibid., p. 336 6. Ibid., p. 330 7. E s s l i n , Martin, The Theatre of the Absurd (New York: Doubleday, 1969), p. 178 8. Genet, Jean, Reflections on the Theatre and Other Writings, trans. Richard Seaver (New York; Grove, 1975), p. 11 9. Rosenberg, "Character Change in the Drama," p.334-335 10. Cole, David, The Theatrical Event (Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1975), p. 7 11. Ibid., p. 8 1 0 CHAPTER I THE BALCONY Eight of the nine scenes in The Balcony take place in a French brothel in a c i t y torn by revolution. Here i l l u s i o n and r e a l i t y are fused r in exotic r i t u a l s of power, sex and death. The mastermind behind the organization i s the tough proprietress, Madame Irma. Because the fate of her most important customer, the Chief of Police, hinges on the revo-lutionary events outside the brothel, Irma and her customers are drawn into a masquerade in real l i f e . The masquerade i s devised to advance the cause of the ci t y ' s hierarchical establishment by maintaining an intact image of i t s strength despite the revolutionaries' wholesale slaughter of a l l powerful establishment figures, including the Queen. Irma herself takes the role of Queen, the Chief of Police i s made Hero, in which role he quells the re b e l l i o n , escalating his reputation as a k i l l e r to i n s t i t u t i o n a l proportions and thus qualifying for impersonation in one of Irma's studios. A l l that remains is for someone to request to impersonate the Chief of Police. He i s f i n a l l y rewarded when his role i s taken by Roger, one of the leaders of the rebe l l i o n . In an act meant to truly merge his identity with that of the Chief of Police, Roger castrates himself. This mutilation reduces the status of the Chief of Police's image to impotence. The Chief of Police, though diminished in stature, proceeds undaunted to his waiting mausoleum for two thousand years of l i v i n g death. His o r d i n a r y v l i f e ends but his image w i l l l i v e eternally in brothels throughout the world. 11 The Chief of Police's struggle toward an immutable state of being through death i s the main action of the play. His intention i s made clear to the audience during his f i r s t appearance in Scene Five, and what i s seen after that i s a gradual unfolding of events as he f u l f i l s his ambition. He must merit an impersonation of his s o c i a l role in one of Irma's studios which w i l l give him a place in the Nomenclature of the brothels, assuring him of perpetual impersonation in brothels throughout the world. A l l composite elements of the drama support t h i s end. The Chief of Police's progress from function to f i n a l immobility requires two character changes. In the Chief of Police's journey toward secular canonization Genet sets out a dramatic paradigm for the idea of character change as a metaphor for the process of death and re b i r t h . The opening scenes of The Balcony show four established r i t u a l s taken from the repertoire of the bordello: in a chamber appointed to resemble a s a c r i s t y , a larger-than-life Bishop and a provocatively-dressed prostitute share a fantasy b u i l t on themes of r e l i g i o n , eroticism and death; in a plainer room but with the same folding screens, chandelier and gilded mirror r e f l e c t i n g an unmade bed seen in the previous scene, a Judge i s engaged in a scene of sadism and self-abasement with an Executioner and a beautiful g i r l , from whom he demands confessions of theft; with the same scenic- surroundings and appropriate additional props, an over-sized General rides his girl-horse to his heroic death on an imaginary b a t t l e f i e l d ; f i n a l l y , in a room with mirrored wall panels, a l i t t l e old man in a tramp costume i s whipped by an indifferent lady with beautiful thighs when he 1 2 . offers her a bouqueti:of a r t i f i c i a l flowers. These are s t r i c t l y make-believe scenarios devised to s a t i s f y the yearnings of men whose real l i v e s f a i l to meet their needs for experience of power and submission. Although they are blatant masquerades, these scenes are l i k e stage models of the larger structure' to come. It i s also true that, although the gas man's transfor-mation into Bishop i s temporary, i t serves to prepare the audience for the character changes to come. And when the Bishop speaks of being on a " s k i l f u l , 1 vigorous course towards Absence. Towards Death," the dramatic climate of The Balcony has already begun to be established. In The Balcony, a warehouse of material and human props, death i s a valued commodity appreciated by a l l Irma's patrons. The Judge of the second scene explains: "That's why I'm dead. I inhabit that region of exact freedom." What more praiseworthy goal than freedom from the fetters of l i f e when the renunciation of l i f e i s the path to the saintliness and freedom of Genet's universe? For the Chief of Police death means welcome p o s s i b i l i t i e s for f u l f i l l m e n t , a f r o n t i e r to be faced with r e l i s h . He regards death as the access point to i n f i n i t e existence where he can "keep v i g i l over his entire death" for a l l eternity. To him, dying seems to be the point of l i v i n g , and his real purpose while alive i s to merit eternal l i f e as a saint of the brothels. His immediate objective i s to secure an impersonation by halting the rebellion; his super-objective i s to gain admittance to the pink handbook of the brothels, which w i l l guarantee his eternal status as image; THE CHIEF DF POLICE (calmly): I s h a l l not be the hundred-thousandth-reflection-within-a-reflection in a mirror, but the One and Only, into whom a hundred thousand want to merge. As Irma explains to him, his reputation w i l l continue to grow i f he builds on a s o l i d foundation of k i l l i n g s : IRMA: You must keep k i l l i n g , my dear George. THE CHIEF OF POLICE: I do what I can, I assure you. People fear me more and more. IRMA: Not enough. You must plunge into darkness, into s h i t and blood. Through his response to Irma when she expresses a desire to return to the tenderness they once shared, the audience learns that, for the Chief of Police, t h i s i s the climax of his long, private campaign: "You don't know what I was secretly moving towards when I was in your arms." This i s a way of t e l l i n g her that love cannot lure him from death. His one consuming goal i s h i e r a t i c status and Irma i s of value to him because she holds power over the medium through which he can achieve i t . A l l characters, with the exception of Irma, regard the Chief of Police as weak and ineffective in the face of revolutionary violence. It w i l l be only when he can act in his s o c i a l role of Chief of Police that he w i l l be able to put down the r e b e l l i o n , and to do this i t w i l l be necessary for him to change his dramatic function. He confides to Irma his aversion to action: THE CHIEF OF POLICE: . . . But I ' l l make my image detach i t s e l f from me. I ' l l make i t penetrate into your studios, force i t s way i n , r e f l e c t and multiply i t s e l f . Irma, my function weighs me down, i t w i l l appear to me in the blazing l i g h t of pleasure and death. (Musingly.) Of death. 2 Function may be a burden to him, but he must find i t in himself to defeat the rebels. Through the process of character change he i s freed from i n a c t i v i t y in order to accomplish his immediate goal. His f i r s t character change i s a spin-off of Irma's adoption of 14 the role of Queen. After the rebels demolish the ranks of the establishment, the impersonators from the Balcony immediately affirm the continued potency of the establishment with a show of p o l i t i c a l strength in the form of a royal appearance on the balcony of the surrogate palace, the brothel. With the entourage i s a figure set apart by his simple dress--all but the Hero are dressed as i f for Irma's scenarios; in f u l l regalia and of amplified size. The Chief of Police has been made Hero by the new establishment. There has been no preparation or forewarning preceding his change; he simply appears in the costume of Hero without explanation. The change i s at f i r s t merely visual and, although he i s vi s u a l l y presented as a low-status figure in comparison with the others, this marks' a s i g n i f i c a n t advance for the Chief of Police. It i s his f i r s t admittance into the power structure of the establishment. As Hero, a l l y of the state, his prestige i s enhanced, making success a stronger l i k e l i h o o d and perhaps foreshadowing victory. The change in dramatic identity results in action: as Hero, he goes out into the c i t y and defeats the rebels at the time when they are most threatening to the establishment. His character change i s thus confirmed. This was not a mere change in physical appearance. To confront and overthrow the rebels required true character change, a change in dramatic function. He has become effectual. In order to have undergone character change, the character must have been subjected to a form of death and rebirth. The change took place in absence; absence in Genet i s a recognized form of death. In his absence, then, the Chief of Police's identifying action ends, and his 'rebirth' i s his appearance on the balcony as a new dramatic id e n t i t y . This seemingly symbolic change enables him to become p r a c t i c a l l y effectual. This 15 character change i s borne out in fact by the Hero's subsequent defeat of the rebels--a definite change from the inaction of the Chief of Police. IMoui that he has become a Hero in r e a l i t y as well as in name and costume, he must await the all-important impersonation. The next phase of the transformation of the Chief of Police meets Rosenberg's c r i t e r i a for character change but with some modification in the arrangement of the events. In this l a s t character change, the structure of the death/rebirth process includes a delay between the death-laden incident (the Hero's absence and his m i l i t a r y victory over the rebels) and the f i n a l stage of the character change (the impersonation of the Chief of Police, followed by his e x i t ) . This delay poses an additional challenge to the Hero, as the other establishment members threaten to exercise their new authority to prevent his accretion of power. He reduces the challenger, the General, to a dog's status by commanding that he l i e on the f l o o r , then wondering aloud whether to send him back to his kennel. In the midst of this i s a reminder to the group from Irma that they were hired to do this for the glory of the Chief of Police. Although he i s subdued and exhausted after his exertion, he passes this test by overcoming the opposition. Immediately after this he senses the coming impersonation as he predicted he would: ". . . I ' l l know by a sudden weakness of my muscles that my image i s escaping from me to go and haunt men's minds. When that happens my v i s i b l e end w i l l be near." His v i s i b l e end w i l l result in the b i r t h of the Chief of Police image. But that time has not yet arrived. He must s t i l l 3 wait for that " f i n a l consecration" ..in Y.tfcie. torm, of-,* an. .impers.ona'.tion. "Let's be s i l e n t , and l e t ' s wait. . . . (A long and heavy silence.) 16 Perhaps i t i s now. . . (_In _a low and humble voice) that my apotheosis i s being prepared. . . . (Everybody i s v i s i b l y expectant.)" It i s Roger, leader of one of the factions of the revolution, who asks to impersonate the Chief of Police. Roger i s briefed on the subject matter of the scenario by the guide provided for his excursion into i l l u s i o n ; CARMEN; . . . . You're the f i r s t . You're inaugurating t h i s studio, but, you know, the scenarios are a l l reducible to a major theme. . . ROGER; Which i s . . . ? CARMEN; Death. ROGER (touching the wall s) ; And so this i s my tomb? The Slave who i s one of the characters of the i l l u d tempus of the Mausoleum Studio explains the d i f f i c u l t y of trying to infuse l i f e with death: "We try hard just to stand and rot. And, believe me, i t ' s not always easy. L i f e 4 t r i e s to pr e v a i l . . . ." The difference between this scenario and the ea r l i e r ones i s that Roger does not want make-believe as Irma's other c l i e n t s do. He wants to make his masquerade real by surrendering his own identity in order to become the Chief of Police, to become the persona of his conqueror. To take possession of the Chief of Police's image, he must submit to a kind of death. In The Theatrical Event Cole explains that "to be possessed i s to relinquish, in greater or lesser degree, one's selfhood. Men flee i t as they flee death because i t _is a kind of death. To be possessed i s to die as an autonomous being, yet to keep on l i v i n g without f u l l consciousness or 5 control; to become the ' l i v i n g dead'" Of course one of the remarkable things about Genet's characters i s that they do not flee death in any of i t s forms and Roger i s determined to exchange his personal existence in order to share in the glory of the Chief of Police. He achieves such a high degree of unity with the image he portrays in the scenario that he i s able to 17 repeat uiords spoken by the Chief of Police but which he has not actually heard. The merging of the two i d e n t i t i e s , the watcher and the impersonator, becomes complete as the scene i s propelled forward with reports of the glory and i n f i n i t e nature of the Chief of Police's image: THE SLAVE: . . . a l l of you i s a thundering mouth and at the same time a dazzling and watchful eye. . . . ROGER: You see i t , but do those others know i t ? Does the night know i t ? Does death? Do the stones? What do the stones say? THE SLAVE ( s t i l l dragging on his belly and beg inning to crawl up the s t a i r s ) : The stones say. . . . ROGER: Well, I'm l i s t e n i n g . THE SLAVE (_He stops crawling, and faces the audience): The cement that holds us together to form your tomb. . . . THE CHIEF OF POLICE (facing the audience and joyfully beating his breast): The stones venerate me! ROGER (with r i s i n g exaltation): Everything proclaims me! Everything breathes me and everything worships me! At this point Roger believes the destiny of the Chief of Police to be his own. When the Slave exits and Roger anxiously enquires after him, Carmen reassures him with a description of his repute: ROGER (anxiously): What else w i l l he t e l l ? CARMEN: The truth; that you are dead, or rather that you don't stop dying and that your image, l i k e your name, reverberates into i n f i n i t y . After reassuring him that his image i s "everywhere, inscribed and engraved and imposed by fear," she t e l l s him he must leave. "The session's over."^ Roger i s in no frame of mind to accept this abrupt ending and does not respond to her reminder according to the conventions of the brothel. But when he realizes he cannot continue the scenario he expresses disillusionment with l i f e : "And outside, what you c a l l l i f e , everything has crashed. No truth was possible." He was forced to accept defeat in battle, but refuses to accept i t now. Against Carmen's protestations "that 18 brothels are very s t r i c t l y regulated and that we're protected by the police," he i n s i s t s he w i l l carry the merged i d e n t i t i e s "to the very l i m i t " of their shared destiny. The climax of the scenario i s the moment when he castrates himself while s t i l l in the role of the Chief of Police. He has forever joined their destinies by mutilating the image during the inaugural event. To condemn the Chief of Police to an eternity of impotence i s Roger's revenge; the gigantic phallus the Chief of Police once envisioned as his symbol could now hold no meaning. The castrated image, however, i s the more accurate representation of the Chief of Police. As with the other c l i e n t s of the brothel, there i s a strong suggestion of impotence in the e a r l i e r Chief of Police and, in a sense, Roger has corrected the image. Besides, death permits no regenerative equipment—the phallus and death are mutually exclusive. After his loss the Chief of Police consoles himself with the thought that at least a "low Mass w i l l be said" to his glory despite the 7 fact that his image w i l l be "castrated in every brothel in the world." Although his image has been mutilated, he has entered the realm of the numinous and proceeds to his tomb s a t i s f i e d with this form of eternal l i f e . Perhaps even in this i l l u d tempus where he w i l l dwell as an eternal image he cannot t o t a l l y escape the r e a l i t y of his own l i m i t a t i o n s . A l l require-ments have been met for his f i n a l character change and he abandons l i f e for stasis in death. From the time the Chief of Police surrenders his real l i f e by entering his tomb to begin the wait of two thousand years, he w i l l exist Q as an image, what Cole c a l l s "an eternal imaginative form," waiting to be brought into existence by brothel patrons around the world. This l a s t 19 character change has been made richer by the accompanying character change of Roger into the Chief of Police. By having the two characters merge, Genet has given the character change greater impact—the image i s more powerful for having absorbed two characters. Roger's se l f - m u t i l a t i o n , a touch of death which, in fact, k i l l s part of him, leaves him permanently altered. Although he was defeated in the revolution, by uniting his fate with that of the Chief of Police he is able to taste the victory of punishment by castrating the image. Genet's complex treatment of this transformation of the Chief of Police into a kind of sainthood i s the culmination of the plot and the denouement i s abrupt. Irma t r i e s to convince the Chief of Police to stay by t e l l i n g him she loves him. Interested only in the execution of his plan to the end, he proceeds to his tomb. Irma sends everyone home and turns out the l i g h t s . For two reasons the success of the Chief of Police's plan i s wholly dependent upon the co-operation of Irma. F i r s t , she i s the master builder of i l l u s i o n , providing theatre, actors and props; second, i t i s her adoption of the role of Queen which allows his f i r s t character change to take place. Madame Irma i s the f l i n t y lady who runs this e f f i c i e n t business providing "the very finest of deaths" for everyone. She i s s k i l l e d and impersonal in the management of human a f f a i r s . Her patrons' fantasies are s t r i c t l y money-making propositions; she knows " i t ' s make-believe that these gentlemen want," and the end of a session i s met without apology; 20 IRIY1A (entering): That'll do now. You've got to leave. THE BISHOP: You're crazy! I haven't finished. IRMA; I'm not trying to pick an argument, and you know i t , but you've no time to waste. . . . BISHOP ( i r o n i c a l l y ) : What you mean i s that you need the room for someone else and you've got to arrange the mirror and jugs. IRMA (very i r r i t a t e d ) ; That's no business of yours. I've given you every attention while you've been here. . . . Once relieved of his holy vestments, the Bishop returns to being a gas man. Irma's house i s a thriving i n s t i t u t i o n drawing i t s c l i e n t e l e from ordinary ci t i z e n s who wish to appease their longing for importance by impersonating members of the "nomenclature of the brothels" who are, for the most part, power figures of the establishment. Although she t r a f f i c s in identity change, Irma never expresses the desire to change her own identity. On the whole her business provides her with s a t i s f a c t i o n s , as she confesses to her assistant Carmen: "Darling, the house r e a l l y does take off, leaves the earth, s a i l s in the sky when, in the screcy of my heart, I c a l l myself, but with great precision, a keeper of a bawdy-house. Darling, when secretly, in silence, I repeat to myself s i l e n t l y , 'You're a bawd, boss of a whore-house,' darling, everything (suddenly l y r i c a l ) f l i e s o f f — c h a n d e l i e r s , mirrors, carpets, pianos, carytids and my studios, my famous studios . . . everything takes i t on the lam, rises up and carries me o f f ! " But there i s another side to Irma which we glimpse when she confides discontent to Carmen; " I t ' s this c h i l l i n g game which makes me sad and melancholy." But her c r i t i c i s m of the outside world r e f l e c t s her ambivalence towards r e a l i t y : "But bear in mind that General, Bishop and Judge are, in real l i f e . . . props of a display that they have to drag in the mud of the real and the commonplace. Here, Comedy and Appearance remain pure, and the revels i n t a c t . " She 21 prefers, then, the i l l u s i o n of her establishment to the hard r e a l i t y of the. functional outside world. S t i l l , she i s not sure, and asks the Chief of Police, "Do you s t i l l i n s i s t on keeping up the game? . . . Aren't you t i r e d of i t ? " Later, she asks that they return to the time when they loved each other. His response i s a slap that knocks her down and threatens further violence. This seems to t i t i l l a t e her. To the Chief of Police's gentle, "Do you think I'm capable of i t ? " she answers, in a panting g whisper, "Yes, darling." There i s an abrupt change in tone immediately following this moment and they get down to business. For the moment Irma has l o s t the appeal for any change in their relationship. She wants warmth and companionship and the Chief of Police wants death. She i s committed to helping him achieve his destiny even i f she does consider everything in her l i f e but her jewels to be sham. Having recognized the l i m i t a t i o n s of her world, she carries on with her work. It i s she who arranges everything to suit the needs of her c l i e n t s , and the Chief of Police i s one of her c l i e n t s . They have a partnership; he provides police protection for the brothel, and she keeps the Mausoleum Studio ready for the anticipated impersonation of the Chief of Police. Suddenly, the revolution affects l i f e inside the brothel. Irma's pimp, Arthur, returns with news of the devastation outside. A bullet shatters a window and k i l l s Arthur with a single shot in the forehead. There i s a brief pause while Irma and the Chief of Police complain about this inconvenience, Irma leaves instructions for clearing the body, then goes to see the Queen's Envoy. The rebels have murdered a l l the power figures of the establishment and now have the upper hand in the rebellion. Something must be done to waylay their success, to allow the Chief of Police to get out there and put down the revolution. As the one remaining palace authority, the Queen' Envoy takes up residence in the brothel. This i s the f i r s t step in his plan to preserve the image of an intact establishment in the eyes of the populace. In order to do this he w i l l need a new Queen because the old Queen i s either dead or dying. Once he has a new Queen he w i l l create a whole new establishment to replace the one destroyed by the rebels. But he shrouds his intent in mystery, refusing to t e l l Irma or the Chief of Police whether the Queen i s ali v e or dead. They are dressed in t a t t e r s , the Funeral Studio they are in i s in ruins, the corpse of Arthur l i e s in state amidst an array of fake d e t a i l , and Irma and George are nervous. Looking at Arthur's corpse, she says, ". . . his entire being i s speeding toward immobility." The Envoy responds by saying, "She, too, i s moving rapidly toward immobility," arousing their fear and suspicion that the Queen may, in fact, be dead. The p o s s i b i l i t y of the Queen's decease i s most alarming to George because she i s essential to his h i e r a t i c quest; THE CHIEF OF POLICE (more and more threateningly): Enough of that. You said the palace was in danger. • . . What's to be done? I s t i l l have almost the entire police force behind me. Those who are s t i l l with me are ready to die for me. . . . They know who I am and what I ' l l do for them. . . . But i f the Queen i s dead, everything i s jeopardized. She's my support, i t ' s in her name that I'm working to make a name for myself. How far has the rebellion gone? I want a clear answer. It i s in both Irma's and the Chief of Police's best interest to assure the survival of the Queen. Irma i s anxious to see the Chief of Police attain an impersonation, so in this sense she, too, i s concerned about 23 the safety of the Queen. But i f the rebels win this revolution, they w i l l close down her brothel; i f the Queen i s dead, the rebels w i l l most certainly win. In utter exasperation, the Chief of Police f i n a l l y forces the Envoy's hand: "But, after a l l , in coming to see me, you did have something 10 definite in mind, didn't you? You had a plan? Let's hear i t . " The answer to his demand i s a t e r r i f i c blast that sends a l l but Irma to the ground. She remains symbolically upright, the only one of the three to maintain her balance. It i s t h i s moment the Envoy shrewdly chooses to begin to build his case. Slowly, with tact and by f l a t t e r y , he convinces Irma to take the role of the dead Queen. He t e l l s her he i s impressed with her courage; he reassures Irma and the Chief of Police that the Queen's death can be overcome; and he praises the significance of l i v i n g in "providential f i x i t y " as an image, rather than simply dying an ordinary death. Being primarily life-bound, Irma does not think in these terms and at f i r s t wonders i f she i s dying: "Do you mean I'm at my l a s t gasp?" Again, the Envoy has chosen a convoluted approach to his task, and again arouses impatience, at which point Irma suggests he clear out and "poke around for 11 the Queen in the rubble." In his response he appeals to her vanity, marking the turning point in his strategy. "And even when alive she was less beautiful than you." Irma begins to compare herself with the Queen and, with some encouragement from the Envoy, considers the proposition seriously: "I'm hurrying, s i r , I'm approaching my destiny as fast as I can." After a quick blast of machine-gun f i r e she announces, "|Y]y mind's made up. I presume I've been summoned 1 2 from a l l eternity and that God w i l l bless me." Irma i s prepared to 24 renounce her past l i f e and, as she says good-bye to George, he threatens the plan by t e l l i n g her he loves her. This i s the only moment of tenderness from the Chief of Police in the whole play, and i s contrived to prevent her ri s e to power over him. The Envoy successfully d i s t r a c t s him from this interference by conjuring up a magnificent image of the tomb the Chief of Police w i l l inhabit once he wins his place in the nomenclature. George once said to Irma, "I penetrate right into the r e a l i t y that the game offers us. . . . " Irma herself i s now about to be carried away in the game, making i t a r e a l i t y for her as well: IRMA (hugging the Chief of Police to her): So I ' l l be real? My robe w i l l be real? My lace, my jewels w i l l be real? . . . She i s about to become Queen, The Envoy sends her off to her quarters to "embroider an interminable handkerchief" just as the f i r s t Queen once did. To truly become Queen, Irma must undergo some form of death and relinquish 13 her function as "keeper of a bawdy-house" to become an image. Irma's f i r s t appearance as Queen i s made on the balcony of the brothel with the other members of the new establishment. Patrons of the brothel_ha,ye, ..been.,persuaded, to replace the power figures who were k i l l e d . They appear in f u l l regalia and the Queen i s given a weak cheer by a single beggar. This appearance, coupled with the parade through the streets we w i l l hear about but w i l l not see, w i l l bolster the confidence of the public and allow the establishment to continue i t s war against the rebels, unhampered by the deaths of i t s key power figures. At the same time, the appearances help lubricate the Chief of Police's way to success. This event marks the admission of the Chief of Police into the 25 ranks of the establishment. He has been named Hero by the new power block. He appears s l i g h t of stature compared with the others because he i s without cothurni and fancy regalia. But th i s preliminary acceptance places the Queen's support behind him as he ventures to f u l f i l his mission. His success i s made more l i k e l y by both the increased status of his role and the restoration of public f a i t h in the establishment. In th i s way the Queen's appearance advances the main action of the play. There i s another contingent occurrence during this scene which strikes a serious blow to the morale of the revolutionaries. The counter-symbol of the revolution, Chantal, i s shot dead as she steps forward on the balcony. By th i s twist the new establishment, to be represented in battle by the Hero, w i l l have even greater chance of success. And, although there has been negligible public response to their appearance on the balcony, the deception gives the imposters the edge they need. The Chief of Police does follow up by defeating the rebels. It i s Irma's adoption of the Queen's identity that has made a l l this possible. But has she achieved true character change? She can be said to have undergone symbolic death during her absence, since absence in Genet s i g n i f i e s a form of dramatic death; the actual change takes place offstage. Irma returns 'reborn' to the role of Queen. There i s no dialogue, so the transformation remains visual. But i f we examine the function of the Queen in this scene we discover that the requirements for true character change have not been met. The Queen's identifying function i s to provide the i l l u s i o n that the establishment i s s t i l l intact. She has also named the Chief of Police 'Hero.' These are both the key identifying actions of Irma: 26 providing i l l u s i o n s and assigning roles. There has been no change in her own dramatic function and, therefore, no true character change. This i s very evident in the following scene. With the intention of propagating "true image born of false spectacle," the new establishment i s in session for photographs which w i l l l a t e r be distributed to the public. The Queen enters, in a preoccupied state. Before long she i s asking after the Hero, speaking of her plans for his tomb and his desire for impersonation. She gets no sympathy from the others and i s moved to defend his cause; THE QUEEN (suddenly vibrant); Yet i t was he who saved everything. He wants glory. He i n s i s t s on breaking open the gates of legend, but he has allowed you to carry on with your ceremonies. Her goal as Queen is i d e n t i c a l with her goal as Irma: to see the Chief of Police become image, to see him entered into the pink handbook of the brothels. The other members of the group are not p a r t i c u l a r l y supportive of the Queen's ambition for the Hero. The Bishop's implication that the new establishment's destiny may l i e beyond this "make-believe" sparks a response from the Queen that clearly r e f l e c t s her true i d e n t i t y ; THE QUEEN (very a n g r i l y ) ; Veritable! And what about those? You mean that those you're wrapped and swathed in--my whole paraphernalia!—which come from my closets, aren't veritable? The closets she refers to, of course, are those of the Balcony. At this point Irma has dropped a l l pretension to an identity other than that of a madame of a good whore house with a worthy c o l l e c t i o n of props and costumes. The argument with the Bishop i s conveniently defused by the 14 sudden entrance of the Hero. He comes in "quietly, humbly," announces his victory over the rebels and s i t s down to wait. Thereafter the focus 27 i s on him. Although she wears the Queen's apparel for the remainder of the play, Irma's dialogue and action anchor her firmly to the identity of brothel-keeper. At one point, the Hero, in addressing her, refers to 15 "your j o i n t , " and she c a l l s him George. After his entrance there i s nofurther reference to her royal status. When a c l i e n t requests to take the role of the Chief of Police, Irma returns with her jubilant "George!" f a l l i n g into his arms with the good news. She watches the scenario through her apparatus, just as she did e a r l i e r in the play. When the customer grows unruly during the session, Irma shows the controlled dis-pleasure that kept order in the f i r s t scenes. When Roger castrates himself in the Mausoleum Studio, she rushes away to clean up the carpets. Carmen c a l l s her Irma and the Chief of Police follows suit when the moment comes for his evacuation from l i f e . As Irma implores the Chief of Police to stay with her rather than shut himself into his death chamber, she i n d i r e c t l y reveals that her motivation has been to get George. But she has exhausted her resources without achieving her objective. She w i l l receive no share of the rewards of success. By helping George reach his goal she has lost him: he w i l l go to his destiny alone, leaving her to return to l i f e in the brothel. She seems unprepared for his abrupt withdrawal and cries out, "What about me? George. I'm a l i v e ! . . . But I s t i l l love you!" When this f a i l s to deflect him from his course toward death she reminds him of her e f f o r t s : "But i t was I who did everything, who organized everything. . . . Stay. . . ." The Chief of Police exit s . 28 Irma assimilates this development, recovers herself and pragmatically disperses the actors remaining on stage. She plunges into busywork in prepar-ation for the next day's a c t i v i t i e s in the brothel. She w i l l be more isolated than ever in the sham of her bawdy house now that George i s gone, taking with him any further hope of change or f u l f i l l m e n t in a love r e l a t i o n -ship. She f a i l e d to transcend her function as an organizer of continuous r i t u a l s of death and rebirth enacted in her studios. Her attempted character change resulted in an extension of her role as provider of i l l u s i o n s . By making an appearance as Queen and appointing the Chief of Police Hero, her dramatic function was merely enlarged, not changed. Tomorrow the scenes w i l l begin again, and Irma w i l l again provide the props, the space, the actors: I R I Y I A J . . . . In a l i t t l e while I ' l l have to start a l l over again. . . put a l l the l i g h t s on again. . . dress up. . . . (a cock crows) Dress up. . . ah, the disguises! Distribute roles again. . . assume my own. Perhaps Irma takes the role of Queen only because i t f a l l s within her duty as a brothel-keeper to create the larger circumstances needed for the fu l f i l l m e n t of•the-Chief of Police's destiny. But she wanted to use-the identity of Queen as a means to an end, rather than as an end in i t s e l f . She attempted character change as a means to a more sat i s f y i n g l i f e , not as a means to eternal l i f e through death. Irma was never interested in dying and, in this sense, i s the antithesis of character change. She i s completely l i f e - o r i e n t e d , and wants a real relationship with George, 1 7 while George i s interested only in death and the " r e a l i t y the game offer s . " In the l a s t moments of The Balcony Irma turns to address the 29 audience: "You must now go home, where everything--you can be quite s u r e — 18 w i l l be f a l s e r than here. . . . " As a necessary corollary of the image of eternity created by the Chief of Police's advancement to the i l l u d  tempus of the brothels, Irma's role i s brought symbolically to an end. Her attempted character change had f a i l e d , and she had e a r l i e r dropped the Queen role when i t was no longer needed to serve the destiny of the Chief of Police. Irma was, however, w i l l i n g to s a c r i f i c e her identity to help him attain his goal, something we w i l l see again with L e i l a in The Screens. Irma's i s a male-dependent role and she undertakes the Queen's role as another form of attachment to George, and as a passible route to f u l f i l l -ment in the other r e a l i t y — t h e r e a l i t y of the game. Unlike Irma, the Chief of Police i s entirely self-motivated, self-obsessed and emotionally detached from a l l humans, seeking the ultimate solitude of death. His desire for alienation and his callousness allow him to take the immoral route he does in order to merit imperson-ation. This characteristic of the Chief of Police's quest for glory, b u i l t on fear and k i l l i n g , foreshadows a theme to be much more f u l l y developed in The Screens: e v i l as good, criminal as saint. The Chief of Police i s actually an anti-hero who wants to stop the revolution, not to save people from chaos or suffering or even to preserve a good system of government, but to enlarge his personal reputation. To k i l l for one's own glory i s immoral, although in The Balcony this e v i l i s given the protective shield of legitimate public function, since George i s the head of the police department. This aspect of the Chief of Police's climb to the nomen-clature i s not emphasized and the theme of e v i l as good is only tentatively 30 put forward in this play. Fuller exploration i s l e f t to The Screens, where Said's character changes mark his progress into ever greater criminal acts. But the Chief of Police's changes do not escalate his criminal acts as Said's do; his changing dramatic i d e n t i t i e s move this character toward his eternal l i f e in death, creating the plot with his destiny. Schema dominates The  Balcony, and the Chief of Police's attempt to achieve stasis through character change i s the plot. 31 NOTES  CHAPTER I 1. Genet, Jean, The Balcony, trans. Bernard Frechtman (New York; Grave, 1958, 1960), p. 7. 2. Ibid., p. 17; p. 69; p. 80; p. 48; p. 52; p. 48. 3. Ibid., p. 82; p. 86. 4. Ibid., p. 84; pp. 87-88; pp. 90-91. 5. Cole, Theatrical Event, p. 61. 6. Genet, Balcony, p. 91; p. 92; Ibid. 7. Ibid., p. 93; Ibid.; Ibid.; Ibid., p. 94. 8. Cole, p. 64. 9. Genet, Balcony, p. 40; Ibid., p. 61; p. 12; p. 84; p. 37; p. 31; p. 36; p. 50; p. 53. 10. Ibid., p. 61; p. 62; pp. 62-63; p. 64. 11. Ibid., p. 65; Ibid.; Ibid.j pp. 65-66. 12. Ibid., p. 66; p. 67; p. 68. 13. Ibid., p. 50; p. 69; Ibid.; p. 37. 14. Ibid., p. 75; p. 76; p. 77; Ibid. 15. Ibid., p. 78. 16. Ibid., p. 94. 17. Ibid., pp. 95-96> 18. Ibid., p. 96. 32 CHAPTER II THE BLACKS: A CLOWN SHOW  The Blacks: _A Clown Show i s not as lin e a r in construction as The Balcony and i t s themes are cast in a larger, more complex mold. Rather than focussing on the fate of a single in d i v i d u a l , The Blacks deals with a clash between two races. Structurally, i t i s a play-within-a-play which i s not broken up into separate scenes. With several addresses to the audience and frequent interruptions by the actors, Genet avoids any attempt to create the i l l u s i o n of r e a l i t y in this play. There i s greater emphasis on abstraction in The Blacks than there was in the e a r l i e r play, and an alienating distance i s imposed on the audience beginning with the commen-tator's opening speech, which in a way i s a kind of i r o n i c , inverted continuation of Irma's f i n a l words; This evening we s h a l l perform for you. But, in order that you may remain comfortable in your seats in the presence of the drama that i s already unfolding here, in order that you be assured that there i s no danger of such a drama's worming i t s way into your precious l i v e s , we s h a l l even have the decency—a decency learned from you--to make communication impossible. We s h a l l increase the distance that separates u s—a distance that i s basic--by our pomp, our manners, our insolence--for we are also actors. Genet i s aggressive in his stance against realism in The Blacks. This i s clearly expressed, again by Archibald, when he states the intention of this performance: "We're being observed by spectators. S i r , i f you have any intention of presenting even the most t r i v i a l of their ideas without 33 1 caricaturing i t , then get out! Beat i t ! " The Blacks i s "a clown show" with that medium's composites of humor, irony, cruelty and pathos. Always a useful cover when the subject matter is v o l a t i l e , caricature allows Genet to present the depths of hatred and contempt that exist between blacks and whites in this imaginary confrontation between the races. The subject matter of the s c r i p t these actors are about to perform i s this confrontation between the white race and the black. By the rape and murder of a white woman the blacks w i l l earn the condemnation and revenge of the white Court, in whose presence they w i l l re-enact the k i l l i n g . But the strength of the white race i s in a period of remission, and when they seek revenge they are overcome in battle and summarily shot. The blacks w i l l now reign supreme as they take their turn at the top of fortune's wheel, not to be diminished by the fact that their reign promises to be a mere aping of white rule. The white Queen, resurrected after the execution, goes off with the Court in tow, promising the future regeneration of the white race. Eventually the cycle w i l l complete i t s course and return the whites to power after ten thousand years. Death and r i t u a l leap out at the audience in the f i r s t moments of The Blacks. At centre stage i s a catafalque covered with a white cloth around which a troupe of blacks dance a stately minuet to a Mozart a i r . They are dressed in a t t i r e of "fake elegance, the very height of bad 2 taste," and place flowers on the catafalque as they dance and whistle. One barefoot dancer in a plain sweater contrasts with the rest. This i s Newport News, the character in direct contact with the " r e a l " world 34 offstage, and who represents r e a l i t y . The stage i s divided horizontally into three t i e r s . The Court, each member wearing a white mask, ceremoniously enters and takes i t s place on the highest of these l e v e l s . Genet specifies in a short introduction that this play i s targeted at whites, who must either make up the audience or be represented by a white puppet. The white Court he places in judgement over the blacks below faces this white audience and serves as i t s surrogate—as a kind of r e f l e c t i o n of the audience before i t , which i t purports to imitate and represent. The black actors are on the lowest l e v e l and the black woman, F e l i c i t y , the matriarch of her race, i s on the middle platform. This s t r a t i f i e d stage space i s a visual indicator of the pecking order. At the end of the play the top lev e l w i l l also be used to represent a combined heaven and earth. The offstage i s included in the dramatic space in The Blacks as i t was in The Balcony, and represents r e a l i t y , the real as opposed to the i l l u s i o n a r y , as i t did in the e a r l i e r play. In fact, the alleged purpose of this show i s to divert., the audience's attention from the real action proceeding offstage: a black organization i s trying a black informer who i s eventually shot for treason. News from the offstage i s periodically relayed by Newport News, and at one point he reports that a l l the blacks of the world have united in revolt against the white race. But these events are of negligible dramatic interest because they are not represented on stage and are given no dramatic development. In this well-documented stage space i s assembled a group of black actors to perform a ceremony of hatred and death. The two characters to be examined in th i s play are Diouf and the Queen. Both are pivotal to the plo t : the Queen i s the leader of the judging 35 Court and i t i s she who leads the other members on their quest for revenge against the blacks; Diouf takes the role of Marie, the white woman who i s ceremoniously raped and murdered. Since i t i s D i o u f s f i r s t character change that precipitates the main action of the play, he w i l l be the f i r s t character examined. In "real l i f e " Diouf i s a c l e r i c , and he brings to the gathering the mask and conciliatory aspirations of that vocation. The audience sees almost immediately that he i s an outcast amongst his peers because he i s overlooked in the introductions. Even when he c a l l s attention to himself he i s l e f t unnamed. He i s held in low regard because his perspective clashes with the objective of the group. Diouf i s a black who i s a p a c i f i s t , a compromiser who wants to ingratiate himself to the whites as he always has, and so maintain the status quo. He plays the devil's advocate, but the others remain dedicated to hatred and revolt. His f i r s t dramatic function, then, i s to oppose the violence and hatred which the blacks are directing at the white race. Diouf and his cohort, Village, have supplied the most important prop for tonight's ceremony, as Village explains; _". . .Besides, I'm t i r e d . You forget that I'm already knocked out from the crime I had to f i n i s h off before you arrived since you need a fresh corpse for every performance." Diouf seizes this opportunity to question the need for a fresh corpse each time: "We could use the same corpse a number of times. Its presence i s the thing that counts." The blacks are unimpressed with his logic and his enquiry i s deflected by Archibald's evasive, feigned concern about the odor of 36 decomposing flesh which would be the result of following"Dioufs plan. The mention of rotting flesh provokes Bobo to praise stench, p a r t i c u l a r l y that which "rises from . . . African s o i l , " and to b e l i t t l e whites as "a pale and odorless race, race without animal odors, without the pestilence of . . . swamps." The blacks continue with a description of the night's violence, the result being copious reaction from the Court and tears from the Queen. F i n a l l y , the Judge c a l l s for action: ". . . You promised us a re-enactment of the crime so as to deserve your condemnation. The Queen's waiting. Hurry up." There i s yet another delay as Newport News brings word from the real t r i a l proceeding offstage. As he i s about to leave, Diouf asks whether he i s sure he r e a l l y wants to carry a gun. Archibald, the moderator, makes clear the blacks' non-negotiable position; ARCHIBALD (to Diouf, v i o l e n t l y ) : I repeat once again--you're wasting your time. We know your argument. You're going to urge us to be reasonable, to be conciliatory. But we're bent on being unreasonable, on being ho s t i l e . You'll speak of love. Go right ahead, since our speeches are set down in the s c r i p t . Despite this expression of the immutability of the blacks' stand, Diouf takes the floor to try to amend their view. Archibald pledges to ignore whatever Diouf saysj but the c l e r i c speaks, undaunted, of harmony, balance and love. He repeats that they do not need a fresh corpse for every perfor-mance—this involves them in hatred and he thinks they need a r i t e of love: DIOUF (with an appeasing gesture of his hand): May I explain? I should indeed l i k e the performance to re-establish in our souls a balance that our plight perpetuates, but I should l i k e i t to unfold so harmoniously that they (pointing to"the audience) see only the beauty of i t , and I would l i k e them to recognize in us that beauty which disposes them to love. 37 His focus i s on pleasing whites rather than on equality of the races. What Diouf does not seem to grasp is that blacks have catered to whites for generations, and that their status has not improved. Revolution i s required to change this pattern, but Diouf i s asking them to submit once more to trying to be white in s p i r i t , since they can never be white in body. However, he admits he has been assimilated to such a degree that he cannot change; DIOUF (to Archibald); S i r , I apologize. I'd l i k e to g l o r i f y my colour, just as you do. The kindness of the whites s e t t l e s upon my head, as i t did upon yours. Though i t rested there l i g h t l y , i t was unbearable. Their intelligence descended upon my right shoulder, and a whole flock of virtues on my l e f t . And, at times, when I opened my hands, I would find their charity nestling there. In my negro solitude, I feel the need, just as you do, to g l o r i f y my exquisite savageness, but I am too old and I think . . . BQBO: Who's asking you to? What we need i s hatred. Our ideas w i l l spring from hatred. DIOUF ( i r o n i c a l l y ) ; You're a technician Bobo, but i t ' s not easy to cast off a quality of meekness that the heart desires. I've suffered too much shame not to want to befoul their beauteous souls, but. . . Diouf i s a beaten man. He i s not committed to the black cause, does not want to participate in t h i s r i t u a l of hatred, and asks to leave: " I t was wrong of me to have come t h i s evening. Please l e t me go." He has opposed the ideology of the group, but without success. The r i t e w i l l be performed as planned. The price he must pay for his opposition i s being cast in the role of Marie, the white female victim. The way in which Archibald e a r l i e r refused this part made i t clear that the role i s not a favored one. Diouf's f i r s t dramatic function was ine f f e c t i v e and w i l l now be changed. The required props for his new identity are brought forward and he gives the opening declaration after F e l i c i t y ' s d i r e c t i v e : DI0UF (_f acinq the audience); I, Samba Graham Diouf, born in the 38 swamps of Ubangi Chari, sadly bid you farewell. I am not a f r a i d . Open the door and I s h a l l enter. I s h a l l descend to the death you are preparing for me. Diouf's tr a n s i t i o n from his f i r s t role to the dramatic persona of Marie adheres to Rosenberg's schema for character change; the identifying action of Diouf ends and the function of the white woman victim i s taken up; the process i s treated as a r i t u a l i s t i c death and reb i r t h . The company sings him a lullaby as he dies. Death, as in The Balcony, i s not organic death, but a modified state of existence that i s included in dramatic l i f e . From i t , Diouf w i l l go on to a new phase of l i f e ; DIOUF; Your song was very beautiful, and your sadness does me honor. I'm going to start l i f e in a new world. If I ever return, I ' l l t e l l you what i t ' s l i k e there. Great black country, I bid thee farewell. After this speech, "the actors ceremoniously bring the wig, mask and 4 gloves, with which they bedeck Diouf. Thus adorned, he takes the k n i t t i n g , " and the character change i s complete. The white smiling mask gives Marie a strong visual presence, and Diouf's old identifying action dissolves in favor of the new: to take the role of s a c r i f i c i a l victim. This metaphorical death and rebirth i s different from what we have seen in The Balcony because i t occurs in f u l l view of the audience, with overt reference in the dialogue to the death of one identity and the rebirth of another. The character change i s better integrated and more concrete. Once the identity of Diouf i s replaced by the new i d e n t i t y , Marie, there i s no further dissension and the ceremony can progress unimpeded. Just as Irma's adoption of the Queen's role was necessary before the Chief of Police could defeat the r e b e l l i o n , so Diouf's character change i s the catalyst for 39 the crime to be re-enacted in The Blacks. Marie i s the c r i t i c a l l i v i n g prop, the white woman to be destroyed; the blacks w i l l be condemned for her murder. Suddenly Marie gives b i r t h to five large dolls representing members of the Court: BOBO: You'd better l i e down so that i t doesn't hurt too much. (She li s t e n s to the Mask, who makes no answer.) Your pride? . . . A l l right. Remain standing. (She kneels and puts her hand under  the Mask-'s s k i r t , from where she takes out a d o l l about two feet  long representing the Governor.) THE GOVERNOR (to the Court): I'm entering the world! With boots on, decorated. . . Bobo pu l l s out dolls representing the Valet, the Judge, the Missionary, and f i n a l l y , the Queen: THE QUEEN (re-entering .just as the d o l l emerges); I'd l i k e to see myself come out of there. . . There I come! My mother spawned me standing up! (Exit.) (The Negroes have hung up the d o l l s . . . under the Court's balcony. They gaze at them and then resume their r e c i t a l . ) ^ Marie, by producing a new iconic generation of the white hierarchy, becomes the symbolic mother of the white race. It i s ir o n i c and appropriate--the governed create the governors--that a black male in the role of a white woman gives birt h to emblems of the white hierarchy which represent the regenerative power of the white race. The murder of Marie k i l l s the "power" of the blacks to create their conquerors. This inversion of the death/rebirth cycle also serves to reinforce Marie's womanly role, making her murder that much more a heinous crime. After the bi r t h interlude, Marie i s abruptly ordered to continue her progress toward death. This episode evolves into a kind of verbal fore-play with s a d i s t i c overtones which Village uses to excite himself for the k i l l : VILLAGE (to the mask): And now, l e t ' s continue. Go on, Madame. . . (The Mask starts walking very slowly toward the right screen•) Walk! This evening you have the noblest gait in the realm. (to  the audience); As you see, the husband arrived too l a t e . He'll find only his wife's corpse, disembowelled but s t i l l warm. (to  the Mask, who had stopped but who starts walking again): It's no longer a Negro t r a i l i n g at your s k i r t ; i t ' s just a marketful of slaves, a l l sticking out their tongues. Just because you've kindly given me a drop of rum you think . . . eh, you bitch! P u l l me toward your lace . . . (They both move toward the screen, very slowly, the Mask in front of M i l l age.) . . . Underneath you're surely wearing some sort of black petticoat that's s i l k i e r than my gaze . . . . Walk faster, I'm in a hurry. . . . You know the door of your room. Open i t . How gracefully you walk, oh noble and familiar rump!^ The references to slavery i n c i t e anger and bring into play the h i s t o r i c a l reasons for this murder. I r o n i c a l l y , Village approaches Marie as a tantalizing sexual object whose erotic appeal i s enhanced by the taboo of r a c i a l mixing, the inverse of a predominating attitude of whites toward blacks. While the events on stage build to a climax of encourage-ment for Village, the white Queen i s offstage weeping over the fate of her favorite saint, Joan of Arc. The approaching martyrdom of Marie disturbs her and she cannot bear to witness the act. On stage there i s soft hand-clapping and stamping of feet to create tension and a quality of urgency which builds u n t i l F e l i c i t y suddenly rises from her throne and begins to speak. The action stops. The white-gloved hand of Marie, who i s otherwise concealed behind a screen, rests on Village's shoulder. F e l i c i t y c a l l s the s p i r i t s of blacks, the l i v i n g and the dead, from a l l points of the globe. In this evocation of black consciousness she alludes to the origin of a l l blacks, summoning them from the i l l u d tempus where the black African presence dwells; 41 FELICITY: . . . Are you there, A f r i c a with the bulging chest and oblong thigh? Sulking A f r i c a , wrought of iron, in the f i r e , A f rica of the millions of royal slaves, deported A f r i c a , d r i f t i n g continent, are you there? Slowly you vanish, withdraw into the past, into the tales of castaways, col o n i a l museums, the works of scholars, but I c a l l you back this evening to attend a secret revel. . . It's a black 'of darkness, compact and e v i l . . J By c a l l i n g forth the s p i r i t u a l force of blacks to witness this murder, she makes the rape and murder a single, symbolic act for a l l blacks against a l l whites. The crime is being committed on behalf of the black race, and the presence of the black s p i r i t u a l force w i l l bring additional power and meaning to the r i t u a l . To the accompaniment of a chant sung to the melody of the Dies Irae, the Latin hymn sung in the Mass for the Dead, the white-gloved hand draws Village behind the screen. His disappearance marks the end of Marie's dramatic function as s a c r i f i c i a l lamb. The white Court now has what i t needs to judge and condemn the blacks for murder. But before the Court launches i t s vendetta against the murderers, Diouf undergoes a second character change. The Court enters in procession, accompanied by the tune of a solemn march, to reassemble on their balcony. The Queen i s leading Diouf, who i s s t i l l in the mask and costume of Marie. The f i r s t spoken li n e s following the entrance precisely r e f l e c t the character change that has occurred: THE QUEEN: This i s the woman whom we must go down and avenge. SNOW: Diouf has a r r i v e d ! 8 The two i d e n t i t i e s of Diouf and Marie have merged into one. Each identity remains recognizable: the whites see her as Marie, the blacks see him as 42 Diouf. The merger i s a true union of opposites in that he i s both male and female, white and black, dead and a l i v e . The death of Marie behind the screen has been followed by the rebirth of a new identity with a new, double, dramatic action: to be the white martyr who w i l l be avenged by the Court, and to report to the blacks, as Diouf promised he would before his f i r s t character change, on the experience of being "up there" with the whites. After the Court has gone down to seek just i c e , Diouf looks over the r a i l i n g at the Negroes below: BOBD: You! You, Mr. Diouf? (The Negroes a l l raise their heads and look at Diouf, who, s t i l l  masked, nods "yes.") Mr. Diouf, you're l i v i n g a curious death. What's i t l i k e there? DIOUF (hesitating): I see you--sorry--I see us as follows: I'm on high and not on the ground. And I am perhaps experiencing the vision of God. What greater reward could the black c l e r i c hope for than to be made a white saint? He has achieved the black/white duality he envisioned at the beginning of the play when he suggested a compromise host: black on one side, white on the other, or grey throughout. Compromiser and p a c i f i s t that he i s , he has reached the pinnacle of his aspirations as a black accepted by the white community as being white, and, at the same time, being a Negro in white heaven. He i s completely taken with the harmony of l i v i n g death and t e l l s the blacks that their hatred of whites does not penetrate the upper l e v e l . He says the whites "are able to perform true dramas and believe in them," while the i l l u s i o n has become real to Diouf as well, or at least preferable to r e a l i t y . Diouf's l i f e after 43 death meets a l l h i s i d e a l s of a s s i m i l a t i o n and he has no d e s i r e t o end i t . He r e s i s t s l e a v i n g t h i s w h i t e heaven u n t i l A r c h i b a l d p r o m i s e s him the r o l e g of " t he Worthy Mother of the h e r o e s " i n f u t u r e c e r e m o n i e s . He i s l u r e d from the b a l c o n y t o p e r f o r m h i s f i n a l f u n c t i o n , the b u r y i n g of the c o r p s e s of the dead C o u r t . .-Diouf does not make a n o t h e r appearance. D i o u f s c h a r a c t e r changes a r e e s s e n t i a l to the development of the p l o t , f o r w i t h o u t M a r i e t h e r e would be no murder, no judgement, no condem-n a t i o n and no r e t a l i a t i o n t o m e r i t r e v o l t . D i o u f i s a c a r i c a t u r e of the d o c i l e b l a c k who s u b m i t s w i t h o u t p r o t e s t t o w h i t e d o m i n a t i o n . One of t h e b l a c k a c t o r s s a y s t o him near the end of the p e r f o r m a n c e : " I f t h e y ' v e [The w h i t e s ] t u r n e d you i n t o the image they want to have of us, then s t a y 1 0 w i t h them. You'd be a burden t o u s . " B l a c k s who s i d e w i t h w h i t e s as D i o u f has done by a l l o w i n g h i m s e l f t o be a s s i m i l a t e d w i l l be k i l l e d a l o n g w i t h the w h i t e s . There w i l l be no more compromises. The w h i t e r a c e w i l l be s y s t e m a t i c a l l y s l a u g h t e r e d . Murder i s the way t o v i c t o r y and c r i m e w i l l be the s a l v a t i o n of the b l a c k s . But a l l i n The B l a c k s i s s y m b o l i c , and the c h a r a c t e r s a r e a l l p l a y i n g r o l e s . The i d e n t i t i e s D i o u f has a t the b e g i n n i n g of the p l a y and then f o r the ceremony are f o r m a l i z e d r o l e s i n a n o n - r e a l i s t i c drama. In a r i t u a l of death and r e b i r t h D i o u f does undergo t r u e c h a r a c t e r change. Through the Queen's d r a m a t i c r o l e i s e x p r e s s e d the i d e a t h a t a l l l i v i n g t h i n g s , i n c l u d i n g r a c e s and c i v i l i z a t i o n s , a r e p a r t of an e t e r n a l c y c l e of death and r e g e n e r a t i o n . T h i s Queen not o n l y r u l e s , but embodies i n her p e r s o n the whole c u l t u r a l h e r i t a g e of the w h i t e r a c e , from Greek 44 times u n t i l the present. She draws inspiration and strength from this r i c h c u l t u r a l background as she t r i e s to withstand consecutive attacks by the primitive blacks. She i s a lethargic figurehead symbolizing the declining white race; although the power she wields i s weak, she i s s t i l l obeyed and treated with deference. With her Court, she forms part of the white audience watching the ceremony on the stage below. The Negroes who play the members of the Court, with the exception of the l/alet, wear elaborate vestments in their roles of Queen, Governor, Judge and Missionary. It i s revealed early in the play that they have come to die, as the Governor explains: ". . . And we know that we've come to attend our own funeral r i t e s . They think they"re compelling us, but i t i s owing to our good breeding that we sh a l l descend 11 to death. Our suicide." To accomplish t h i s , i t i s necessary for the blacks to stage the rape and murder of the white woman so that the Court can, in turn, condemn the crime and seek revenge. When they challenge the blacks, they w i l l be shot. It i s the Queen who leads them to this fate. At f i r s t impression she seems vacuous, with her i n s i p i d curiosity about the proposed murder. Her capricious attitude and languid demeanor make her a caricature of royalty. She has few personal resources to help her rule, and she r e l i e s on her Court to prop her up. The Missionary t r i e s to bolster her s p i r i t by the reminder that God i s on their side: "Have confidence, Majesty, God i s white. . . .--would he have allowed the Miracle of Greece? For two thousand years God has been white. He eats on a white tablecloth. He wipes his white mouth with a white napkin. He picks at white meat with a white fork." This encouragement does not give 45 the Queen the spark she needs. She i s incapable of r a l l y i n g , and lapses into a deep sleep from which she cannot be roused. The Court refers to this dozing as "hatching. Hatching what? C e l t i c remains and stained-glass 12 windows of Chartres," thereby placing her in direct connection with monumental achievements of the white race. While she i s in this state of trance, her voice i s taken over by Virtue, the black actress who i s Village's lover. The Queen wakes, but remains in a dazed state. She i s l i k e one of the l i v i n g dead, l i s t e n i n g , then speaking in unison with Virtue as one possessed. Virtue takes her on a poetic journey through images associated with the white experience, but in mid-stream Virtue suddenly switches to imagery of f l e s h , darkness, sexuality. The Queen then begins to speak in unison with Virtue, t r a v e l l i n g with her through references to black suffering and the chains of slavery. But when Virtue says, "I love you" to Village, the Queen i s jolted to herself, and i s suddenly wide awake: "That'll do! Silence them, they've stolen my voice! Help! . . . " The Queen does not want to be subjected to the black experience in any form, even imaginative. It i s preferable to die. Her c a l l for help i s answered by a powerful speech from F e l i c i t y , matriarch of the black race. F e l i c i t y makes a dramatic appeal to "Negroes from a l l corners of the earth" to bring her strength, sending the Queen into a swoon from which she does not recover u n t i l after the birth of the d o l l s . The Court believes her to be near death. She c a l l s on the "angel of the flaming sword, virgins of the Parthenon, stained-glass windows of Chartres, Lord Byron, French cooking . . ." to rescue her, and she says in a dying voice that her blood i s ebbing away. The Missionary 46 13 asks her to "put a good face on i t , " since their death i s planned in every d e t a i l . They must go through each step as i t has been set down in the s c r i p t . Although she i s with the Court as the blacks prepare far the ceremony and transform Diouf into Marie, the Queen^is v i r t u a l l y s i l e n t . In the midst of the seduction scene that i s part of the r i t u a l , Marie i s instructed to play an imaginary Strauss melody on an i n v i s i b l e piano, which she does. This rouses the Queen to a simpering compliment, the only dialogue she has before her e x i t . A cutting remark is made in reference to the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, the Queenfs favorite saint, 14 and she leaves "hiding her face and crying her heart out." She has regained her sel f - c o n t r o l when she makes a brief appearance for the birth of the d o l l s . After that event, she i s absent u n t i l the Court reconvenes on the balcony with the murdered Marie. / .' Her f i r s t absence from the set can be seen as a form of dramatic death, and the birt h of the Queen d o l l i s blatantly symbolic of the rebirth of the Queen. Technically, she has undergone the death/rebirth process which may result in character change. However, when she reappears after Marie's death, she i s visually i d e n t i c a l with her e a r l i e r s e l f . What i s changed about the Queen i s her approach to leadership; she i s assertive and energetic, a r t i c u l a t e and clear-thinking. She undertakes to avenge the murder, participating with an immediacy and responsiveness that was t o t a l l y lacking in the e a r l i e r Queen. She i s prepared to act, and she leads the Court off into the heart of Africa with "cloak and boots, 15 a pound of cherries" and her horse. She i s s t i l l the leader, the governing 47 authority. Therefore her dramatic function i s the same; i t i s her approach to her function that has changed. In spite of having undergone a clear form of dramatic death and reb i r t h , the Queen cannot properly be said to have achieved true character change. Although her rule was weak at the outset, i t was functioning and i t was obeyed. She i s now r e v i t a l i z e d , but she i s not a new dramatic id e n t i t y . It i s as though the birth of the Queen do l l freed her from lethargy. When the Court arrives in the jungle of the stage f l o o r , they are a l l reeling drunk. This i s important because, in their inebriated state, they reveal their arrogance and racism as white colonists v i s i t i n g their African possessions, making them contemptible and f o o l i s h . The hunt i s a facetious game u n t i l the blacks organize the court of justice at dawn. The Negroes are exaggeratedly debased as the t r i a l gets under way, but in the midst of this militant nonsense, the Judge clearly articulates the seriousness of the crime the blacks have committed; "No, one can't hold a l l of Africa responsible for the death of a white woman. Nevertheless, there's no denying the fact that one of you i s g u i l t y , and we've made the journey for the purposes of bringing him to t r i a l . According to our statutes--naturally. He k i l l e d out of hatred. Hatred of the color white. That was 16 tantamount to k i l l i n g our entire race and k i l l i n g us t i l l doomsday." In a characteristic act of Christian forgiveness, the Queen i s w i l l i n g to grant the murderer pardon and absolution. This would defeat the purpose of their symbolic act, and the Queen's suggestion brings F e l i c i t y out in f u l l force, c a l l i n g upon a l l blacks to back her in claiming credit for the crime. This i s a crime of a l l Africans against a l l whites. The blacks do 48 not want forgiveness. They want the p o l i t i c a l intention behind the white woman's murder to stand as the ultimatum i t was designed to be. This cry brings about the confrontation between F e l i c i t y and the Queen that i s the apex of the Queen's role. The two matriarchs arrange themselves opposite each other on either side of the stage, the Court behind the Queen and the Negroes behind F e l i c i t y . The women fight i t out face to face, each representing her race. This i s a battle of wits, and the friendly ambience that develops during the r i t u a l does not a l t e r the serious nature of this encounter; i t i s the pivotal confrontation between the races that w i l l t i p the balance of power into the hands of the blacks. At the beginning the Queen i s confident there can be no true defeat of the white race because eternity i s on i t s side. They engage in p o l i t e , s l i g h t l y hostile banter on esoteric subjects. Then F e l i c i t y speaks lovingly of her crime and the Queen counters the implication that the black r i t u a l s w i l l be the death of the whites. The Queen stands up well in the i n i t i a l sparring, but f a l t e r s when F e l i c i t y abruptly changes the timbre of the exchange with, "We'd l e t a f a r t and blow you out." The Queen i s angered and disarmed by this vulgarity and her response reveals her racism and profound disrespect for human l i f e : "I'm going to have you exterminated." However, once the Queen has been thrown off guard she i s unable to recover her ground. She rapidly sinks into subjective and personal comparisons between the two women based on feminine conquests of the past and on physical attraction. It emerges that F e l i c i t y i s the stronger, more resourceful of the two and cannot be shamed by t r a d i t i o n a l r a c i s t attitudes cast at her by the Queen. In fact, she embraces the i n s u l t s and transforms 49 them to glory as i s the custom in Genet's world. The Queen i s r e l i a n t on the Court for assistance and advice. As the dispute progresses, they y i e l d less and less u n t i l F e l i c i t y says the white race i s "bogged down in weariness and 17 time," to which the Queen asks of the Court, "What should I answer?" The battle i s l o s t . After this defeat the Queen does make one more attempt to discourage the blacks from assuming power by c i t i n g the trouble i t i s to rule. The triumphant F e l i c i t y speaks metaphorically of the black race's potential for growth: "And you, think of the mosquitoes in our swamps. If they stung me, 1 8 a grown Negro, f u l l y armed, would spring from each abcess. . ." No longer involved in c o n f l i c t , she quietly describes the new beginning, the beginning of a black mythology based on black experience, origins and beliefs--one closely bound to the natural world and their African heritage. F e l i c i t y ' s promise of a flourishing black race brings the Queen to tears. The Court grows indignant and the Judge t r i e s to bring back the t r i a l by demanding a guilty party for the purpose of satisf y i n g j u s t i c e . But there i s an interruption in the r i t u a l as Newport News brings a report on the progress of the real t r i a l happening offstage, and when the play-within-a-play i s resumed the players want to hurry i t to i t s conclusion. In one of her l a s t gestures of leadership, the Queen explains to the blacks that their victory i s not as complete as they might think: "You haven't realized that we're heading for death. We're going to i t voluntarily with a sneaking happiness." As i s always the case in Genet, the victim has the a b i l i t y to modify or rob the victor by choosing his defeat: THE QUEEN: We choose to die so as to deprive you of pride of triumph. 50 Unless you're going to boast about having conquered a people of shadows. FELICITY: We'll always be able. . . THE QUEEN (with great authority): Be quiet. It's for me to speak and give my orders. •THE QUEEN (to the Valet): At least say to them that without us their revolt would be meaningless--and wouldn't even exist. . . She i s firm in her role as imperial leader of the white race despite her recent humiliation. After her attempt to disclaim any true victory on the 19 part of the Negroes, she commands the Governor to "lead o f f ! " Before he i s shot, he prophesies that he w i l l transcend death. One after the other the members of the Court are shot, their bodies forming a heap on the stage. The Queen can be said to undergo the formula for character change again here, because she i s executed and begins a new existence. Although she continues to speak throughout her l y r i c a l slaying, she immediately refers to her l i f e as Queen in the past tense: ". . . It was easy for you to transform us into allegory, but I had to l i v e and suffer to become that image. . . and I have even loved. . .loved. . . How I have loved! And now, I d i e — i must confess—choked by my desire for a Big Black Buck. Black nakedness, thou hast conquered me." It i s obvious that she would l i k e her new existence to be more flamboyant and v i t a l than her reign as Queen. Although she refused to admit defeat in connection with the battle with F e l i c i t y , she accepts being conquered sexually and seems to anticipate some contact with the " t e r r i f i c fuckers" referred to at the beginning of The Blacks. Again, through a form of dramatic death, she becomes recharged, energetic as a leader. She herds her flock off to eternity with a parting 51 promise of the regeneration of the white race: THE QUEEN (turning to the Negroes): Farewell, and good luck to you. Decent g i r l that I am, I hope a l l goes well for you. As for us, we've l i v e d a long time. We're going to rest at l a s t . ( F e l i c i t y  makes a gesture of impatience.) We're going, we're going, but keep in mind that we s h a l l l i e torpid in the earth l i k e larva.g or moles, and i f some day. . . ten thousand years hence. . . As was the case with her e a r l i e r exposure to the requisite death/rebirth process for character change, the Queen's dramatic function here i s s t i l l the same: she i s the leader of her race in death as she was in l i f e . The Queen does not achieve character change. As in The Balcony, we have one male who experiences two character changes and a female who i s subjected to a symbolic form of death and rebirth but does not achieve character change. Perhaps i t i s impossible for females to achieve true character change in Genet's plays. Through Marie, females get as close as they ever w i l l to character change in these plays. But Marie i s a dramatic hybrid, a woman's role taken by a man, so i t remains that no female experiences character change. Character change in The Blacks i s as decisive a structural element as i t was in the f i r s t play. But in The Balcony the main action i s character change, the Chief of Police's changes are the spine of the plot. With Diouf i t i s more accurate to say his changes allow the events of the play to unfold, contributing elements in a larger whole. Roles and i d e n t i t i e s p r o l i f e r a t e in this pLay-within-a-play, but the characterization in The Blacks i s abstract and one-dimensional. Such characters can be easily manipulated through schematic identity changes with the barest, i f any, reference to motivation, organic development or natural behaviour. The abstract quality of the drama i s heightened and reinforced by the poetic language, through which Genet pontificates on his favored themes of e v i l , judgement, condemnation and death. He does truly succeed, in The Blacks, 21 in making the characters "metaphors of what they were to represent." 53 NOTES CHAPTER II 1. Genet, Grove, Jean, The Blacks: A Clown Show, trans. 1960), p. 12; p. 33. Bernard Frechtman (N ew York: 2. Ibid., P- 8. 3. Ibid., P- 19; pp. 19-20; p. 20; Ibid.; p. 25; p. 29; p. 31; pp. 32 -33; p. 51 4. Ibid., P- 54; p. 55; Ibid. 5. Ibid., p. 72; p. 73. 6. Ibid., pp . 73-74. 7. Ibid., P- 77. 8. Ibid., p. 86. 9. Ibid., pp. 88-89; p. 90; p. 124. 10. Ibid., PP 113 -114. 11. Ibid., p. 13. 12 . Ibid., pp. 23-24; p . 43. 13. Ibid., P- 46; Ibid.; p. 47; Ibid. 14. Ibid. , p. 72, 15. Ibid., p. 87. 16. Ibid., P- 98. 17. Ibid., p. 104; Ibid.; p. 105. 18. Ibid., p. 108. 19. Ibid., P- 116; Ibid.; p. 122; p. 117. 20. Ibid., P- 124; p. 80; p. 126. 21. This quotation taken from Genet was cited in the Introduction of the thesis on page 5. 54 CHAPTER III THE SCREENS The Screens, Genet's longest and most ambitious play, has seventeen scenes and over f i f t y characters. It takes place in Algeria during the French-Algerian war (1954-1962) and i s the story of Said, a poor Algerian peasant who becomes a folk hero through acts of theft and betrayal. The play i s unique in Genet's work because t h i s anti-hero comes to know his destiny gradually. The Chief of Police and Diouf move toward a destiny that i s predetermined and are involved in r i t u a l s whose outcome i s known in advance. At the beginning of The Screens Said merely wants to improve his situation by getting a better wife--neither the main character nor the audience knows what path his destiny w i l l take. This grants an element of suspense to the play which i s absent from the more obviously schematic and predictable plots of the two e a r l i e r games. His f i n a l destiny i s to be one we have not yet seen: Said, l i k e Genet himself, makes t o t a l alienation his goal and regards the attainment of nothingness as a supreme human achieve-ment. In the opening scene we see Said and his mother on their way to the v i l l a g e of Said's future bride, L e i l a . Because of severe poverty he must marry the most ugly woman in the v i c i n i t y , and because of this unfortunate union he becomes the object of r i d i c u l e and rejection in his community. He decides to work for the money he needs to purchase a 55 better woman, but eventually steals i t instead. He i s caught and j a i l e d , and thus begins his awakening--he discovers the pleasure of d i s t i n c t i o n that results from being a th i e f . Stealing becomes his vocation and i t becomes his ambition to excel as a thi e f . He i s dependent on the system he defies for recognition of his crime through condemnation and punishment. 1 He grows more and more interested in "becoming someone" through infamous acts. In the course of the play, the Algerians begin an insurrection against French colonial r u l e , and i t i s this development that gives Said the golden opportunity to prove himself a despicable character. He betrays his own countrymen after poisoning their water supply. In the end he i s sought by the Algerians as well as the French, despised by a l l but his immediate family and the v i l l a g e elder, Ommu. His reputation flourishes, and when he i s f i n a l l y caught, he rejects a l l sides with the epithet, "To 2 a l l of you, I say s h i t ! " He walks away in an act of defiance and i s shot. He transcends the realm of the l i v i n g dead•to become legend. The characters from The Screens to be analysed are Said and Warda, Said because he i s the principal character, and Warda because her develop-ment forms an opposite p a r a l l e l to Said's. Said achieves his destiny in three phases, each linked to a character change, though these changes are not as transparently schematic in The Screens as those in The Balcony and The Blacks. Said's character changes result from his dramatic experience and a developing desire to al t e r his destiny. He i s an evolving dramatic character who choses to change his 56 identity as he works his way toward his chosen fate. As Said and his mother make their way to the v i l l a g e of his betrothed, Said i s dejected at the prospect of marrying "the ugliest woman 3 in the next town and a l l the towns around." His mother thinks i t i s com-i c a l , implying that the way to deal with i t i s to treat his wife as an ugly woman by vomiting on her. The Screens i s steeped in references to the effluence of various body o r i f i c e s as part of Genet's relentless portrayal of the poverty, ignorance and repression of this environment. The brightly colored clothing*, of Said and his mother, which seems to have been gathered from ec l e c t i c sources, stands out against.their barren surroundings as they engage in an animated fantasy that sustains them on their journey. They re--fer to the wonderful g i f t s they are taking the bride in the va l i s e , but later laugh when the suitcase f a l l s open and i s revealed to be empty. To relieve his depression, Said asks his mother to dance for him. Her energetic and sensuous dance i s a celebration of l i f e shared by mother and son. He shows a rapturous appreciation of her with his praise of her t i t s , belly and her beauty. There i s a fierce bond between them and i t w i l l be a formid-able task for Said's new wife to make a place for herself in this nexus. In the f i r s t domestic scene we see after the marriage, L e i l a , whose ugly face i s perpetually covered with a black hood, makes sexual advances to a pair of pants in an attempt to overcome her loneliness. The mother i s merciless in her cruelty toward L e i l a , but in a poignant moment of honesty between the two women, L e i l a puts Said in his place: "At night, you think I marry Said who hasn't a penny? And who's not good-looking? And whom no woman ever looks at? What woman has ever turned around to look at Said?" 57 Yet i t i s this same unattractive man who i s less and less able to withstand the humiliation of being married to L e i l a . He tortures her with accounts of the daily suffering brought upon him by her ugly face: SAID: . . . . I had to receive the ugliest one, and that would be nothing compared to my misfortune, but the cheapest one, and now I have to get into a fight every afternoon with the other farm hands who kid the s h i r t off me. And when I get home after a day's work, instead of comforting me, you purposely make yourself uglier by crying.^ He does not want to be an outcast because of L e i l a and devises a plan for escape: he w i l l cross the sea to France to make money to buy a better wife. This i s the f i r s t indication of Said's potential to overcome the circumstan-ces of his poverty. The interesting thing i s that he i s doing t h i s to gain s o c i a l acceptance. It i s only l a t e r that he comes to r e l i s h being an out-sider . Said's a r r i v a l at th i s plan i s the result of a growing awareness. He admits his d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the situ a t i o n and then realizes that he can change i t . This i s by far the most natural character development we have seen in Genet, with Said presented as a character who changes and develops with time and experience. But his true destiny i s s t i l l unknown to him. Later, in a scene in which Said i s not present, i t i s revealed that his f i r s t sum of money towards his goal was stolen from a fellow worker's vest. He was apprehended, returned some of the money, but was j a i l e d for the offense. Before Said i s even released from prison, his mother i s enjoying the d i s t i n c t i o n of her son's theft and i s protecting his g u i l t from forgiveness. She has already absorbed some of his g u i l t and speaks 58 of dazzling the l o c a l women with her shame. And so Genet's induction of the idea that immoral acts are desirable i s accomplished. When Said i s released, something i s different about the dynamics of the family. In contrast with the e a r l i e r scenes, the mother i s decent toward L e i l a and the group i s relaxed and humorous. It i s as though Said's crime has mysteriously drawn them together. It i s a new thing for Said to be short with his mother and to address his wife as a human being: THE MOTHER (stopping in order to examine Said): It's r e a l l y true that you've changed. SAID: It's the lack of a i r . They start walking again in silence. SAID (to L e i l a ) : L e i l a . LEILA (she stops): Yes, Said. SAID; Take off your v e i l so I can look at you. In this brief scene we are informed that he has changed in some discernible way without being given more than that. He says he w i l l now go to work in the phosphate mines, but the next time he appears he i s on t r i a l for theft. The t r i a l scene gives clear evidence of Said's character change. Said faces a dilemma because the Cadi refuses to judge him. Said begs for his sentence, knowing his identity as thief i s dependent on the recognition of his crime through judgement and punishment. He w i l l not be "taken seriously" as a thief i f he i s allowed to go free. His reputation would suffer and he would be prevented from attaining his destiny. He needs the Cadi's sentence to validate his thefts: THE CADI: . . . . Said, I could play a dirty t r i c k on you: I could acquit you of each of your crimes. I'd deliver sentence in the name of God.and the people. . . . You're asking me to do a grave thing. . . . You steal often. I spend my time sending you to j a i l . . . . Nothing's sacred to you. . . . SAID: You'd be k i l l i n g me.6 59 Said's dramatic action has changed from trying to get money to buy a better wife to stealing for the sake of i t , without remorse. Since he has also undergone a form of death and re b i r t h , i t i s clear he has experienced true character change. As was the case with the Chief of Police in The Balcony, i n e f f e c t u a l i t y i s changed to effectiveness. Said's character change occurred during his absence in prison. The enforced absence of prison can be seen as a symbolic form of death, and when he reappears he has been 'reborn' a new dramatic id e n t i t y . Although his physical appearance i s the same, his old identifying action i s dropped and he never again takes up his early attempt to s o c i a l l y integrate himself by purchasing a more handsome wife. Said's dramatic death and rebirth i s purely symbolic and i s more subtly handled than in the e a r l i e r plays. The change in his identifying action arises from the changing needs of the character. The schematic quality of Diouf's and the Chief of Police's character changes has been replaced by the more organic development of character awareness leading to change. The formula of character change as a kind of death/rebirth i s s t i l l there, but the emphasis i s on the change in identifying function that results rather than on the formula i t s e l f . It i s perfectly clear with this scene with the Cadi that Said i s f u l l y engaged in building a reputation as a criminal. Said now wants to- increase his alienation through a n t i - s o c i a l acts rather than to find acceptance in the community. The Cadi evidently does not refuse Said his punishment, because the next time we see him he i s again in j a i l . His wife has now also begun to steal in order to contribute to their shame, and has even been given j a i l sentences. She has sided with her husband and to her the project i s a 60 "great adventure."' The dramatic climax of their relationship occurs when they are imprisoned in the same j a i l , but in different c e l l s . They are able to speak through the p a r t i t i o n s , and their dialogue reveals that they are now con-spirators in crime. L e i l a has become so adept at crime that Said asks her for guidance. He i s moving toward a climax in second dramatic identity and must find his destination through more acts of crime; he i s not yet f u l -f i l l e d in e v i l , and he needs her help to discover the way. In this scene their relationship peaks in a bizarre inversion of a love song f i l l e d with ecstatic references to f i l t h , decay and stench; LEILA (_in _a gutteral tone, and talking l i k e a pitchman trying to gather _a crowd at _a f a i r ) : . . . . And who s t i l l hasn't seen Said f l i p p i n g and flopping when the cops get to work on him! And drooling blood and bleeding snot and oozing from every hole. . . . SAID ('same tone) : And my wife, who hasn't seen her running away? . . . --running from under the stones, and when they f l i n g bags of guess what. . . . Each t r i e s to scream more loudly than the other. LEILA: . . . my man around the jackets. . . SAID; . . . She runs head down, her hands and legs writhing. . . LEILA: . . . prowling, crawling on a l l fours in the grass, his belly scraping up everything. . . SAID: The woman the birds in the sky s h i t t i n g on her. . . . One sure thing, i t ' s nice and sheltered here for squabbling with L e i l a . ^ They share t h i s vision of depravity and are j o i n t l y committed to the achievement of even greater debasement. When L e i l a t e l l s Said she can now panhandle he i s delighted with her, and f i n a l l y the guard t e l l s the "lovebirds" to sleep. This imprisonment and this sleep represent a symbolic death from which Said w i l l emerge with a new identifying action. The insurrection which has begun while Said and L e i l a are in prison i s a perfect vehicle for the further refinement of his talent for 61 e v i l . The r i s e of the Arab peasants against the French i s keyed into action by an eloquent elder of the v i l l a g e , Kadidja. She urges the Arabs to "merit the world's contempt" through crime, taking the crimes of the very gods as their own i f they are unable to invent enough. In doing this she s h i f t s the frame of reference from that of a r a c i a l uprising to the act of creating a mythology--a mythology of e v i l . KADIDJA: . . . . Said, L e i l a , my loved ones! You, too, in the evening related the days' e v i l to each other. You realized that in e v i l lay the only hope. E v i l , wonderful e v i l , you who remain when a l l goes to pot, miraculous e v i l , you're going to help us. I beg of you, e v i l . . . impregnate my people. . . Kadidja i s a powerful woman and i t i s she who "organized the re b e l l i o n , g drew the men into i t , and died for freedom." Her praise of Said's and Leila's e v i l , therefore, i s s i g n i f i c a n t . They are considered to be worthy models to imitate in the formation of a new mythology. It i s to be the revolution instigated by Kadidja that gives Said the scope he needs for further exploration of his e v i l . When he i s released from prison he knows he w i l l betray the Arabs, but i s not yet sure what form his action w i l l take. It i s i r o n i c that Said must rely on L e i l a for the discovery of the new action that w i l l enlarge his reputation as a "complete louse." L e i l a must ask her guiding s p i r i t , her dragon, what act of betrayal Said should perform: SAID: Has he come? LEILA: He's drawing near. SAID: Already! (A pause.) Ask him. . . (He hesitates.) . . . ask him what I can say, what I can s e l l out on, so as to be a complete louse. Despite his reliance upon his wife for the attainment of his goal, i t 62 becomes clear that the f i n a l glory i s to be his alone. He sees L e i l a as a part of himself rather than as an autonomous person: LEILA: I'm ti r e d from walking, the sun, the dust. . . . Where are we going, Said, where are we going? SAID (turning around and looking at her straight in the eye): Where am I going? LEILA: Where are we going Said? SAID: Where I'm going, me, and me alone, since you're my misfortune and nothing but. . . . Well, I'm going, and i t must be far away, to the land of the monster. Even i t ' s where t h e r e ' l l never be sun, since I'm carrying you and dragging you along you're my shadow. . . . If I succeed, l a t e r on t h e y ' l l be able to say. . . --"Compared to Said, i t ' s a cinch!" I'm t e l l i n g you, I'm on my way to becoming someone. Are you coming?10 She accepts his terms, continues to help him achieve his destiny, and i s f i n a l l y absorbed into the identity of Said. The audience does not witness the traitorous acts through which Said's identifying function changes from theft to betrayal. Dialogue between other characters i n d i r e c t l y reveals his treachery; THE LIEUTENANT: To say nothing of the fact that that maddening Said, who s t i l l can't be found, keeps getting worse and worse. A t r a i t o r . . . THE GENERAL; It's thanks to his treason that our men. . . managed to capture the rock where we are. THE LIEUTENANT; And the more disgusting and repulsive he i s . . . His infamy grows, he i s more and more loathed as he excels in crime. He has also betrayed his own people in a pa r t i c u l a r l y insidious way: • IVIIYIU (an, Arab woman about s i x t y ) : Green, pale green, a kind of green glass powder, a green bottle broken and ground; that was i t . A packet of i t in each well. . . . HAMED:What about the donkeys? . . . And the sheep? 0fYlIY]U3 If they don't l i k e arsenic, they can croak. . . HAMED: There're three disemboweled goats in the Kaddur. . . They're black with f l i e s . . . . we may have been betrayed, and in a l l probability by Said. . .^ ^ 63 These acts firmly establish that Said i s no longer engaged in theft. Once he i s released from prison after his l a s t detention, his actions reveal he has again undergone character change: the temporary absence that represents a form of death has again caused his old identifying action to be dissolved and for another, new action to take i t s place. He i s symbolically reborn as a t r a i t o r , and he t o t a l l y abandons theft as the means to his end. That identifying action ended successfully and was no longer useful to him. As before, the change does not affect his physical appearance, and results from his developing need to reach his destiny as image. Said's reputation has been swelling since his success as a th i e f , but his new a c t i v i t y arouses both admiration and outrage. Ommu praises him: "And as for Said, may he be blessed!" and when one of the Arab fighters protests that "putting arsenic in wells i s a s i n , " she says Arabs have "nothing else to l i v e but s i n s . " The soldiers are not convinced and, as they leave, warn her; "And when we catch that Said of yours, h e ' l l get 12 what's coming to him." She declares her loyalty with her belief that Said i s on the side of the Arabs. But i t i s revealed through dialogue between French soldiers that they have "been ordered to bring him back to the commanding o f f i c e r dead or a l i v e . " Said i s meeting with success as a t r a i t o r , since he i s now sought by both sides. He i s no longer helped by L e i l a , since the merging into her husband's identity has begun. Said i s a figure who has become t o t a l l y alienated and must be close to his f u l f i l l m e n t . He appears twice as a type of apparition, detached from the dramatic action around him. The f i r s t , i r o n i c a l l y , occurs immediately after Ommu has said, "Said's for us." . . . the rear screen moves aside. Said appears, motionless, smiling  and self-possessed. He has his thumbs in his belt and his hands f l a t  against his thighs. He moves his shoulders casually. SAID (without moving): . . . The big job's been done. I've l e t you know where to direct your boats in order to cut off your enemy's retreat. The screen moves back, concealing Said. Nobody appears to have heard  him. This appearance functions as a separate showing of his l a s t big act of betrayal against the Arabs, leaving no doubt that he has consummated his rattiness. He i s alone on the stage for his next appearance and i s addressing L e i l a , who cannot be seen: SAID: Done, L e i l a ! With the eye you've got l e f t , i f you can see me, I'm relaxed, L e i l a . . . . And don't worry about a thing, I've shot the works. It's going.to be hard making a getaway with a l l those snouts on my tracks. And I stink as much as you. I hope I've shown the right way. Though at bottom a l l ways are a l i k e . L e i l a . . . (He ..yells) L e i l a ! . . . 1 3 L e i l a has truly become his shadow and Said i s at peace with himself, waiting for his f i n a l transformation. He i s assured of victory and has no further interest in the land of the l i v i n g . There i s nothing more for him to do. He has f u l f i l l e d his mandate by being the lowest of the low, a thief and a t r a i t o r . He has sold out on humanity and now awaits recog-nitio n for his achievement. Said's identity changes have formed a steady progression from his desire to be s o c i a l l y integrated, to his successful attempts to attain s o c i a l alienation, to his f i n a l identity as "legend"— an identity which i s outside society, independent in a sense. Said does f i n a l l y transcend soc i a l l i m i t a t i o n s . When he next appears on stage, he 65 has achieved legendary status. Immediately after his l a s t speech to L e i l a , The Screens i s shifted from the earth-bound to the numinous. In the "nowhere" where "time never passes" we find a gathering of the dead. Some are familiar to each other from l i f e before death, some are not. Their faces are smeared with white grease paint and they wander about in a sort of c e l e s t i a l retirement. They are relaxed and quiet and entirely free from the stresses of their former l i v e s . They have a detached attitude but are s t i l l interested, and have not severed a l l relations with what goes on "down there." In fact, Said's mother wants to recreate the corruption she loved on earth: " . . . But the smell of our garbage cans i s s t i l l in my n o s t r i l s . . . . the smell I smelled a l l my l i f e , and that's what I ' l l be composed of when I'm completely dead, and 14 I have every hope of polluting death too. . ." She also wants to keep her g u i l t alive and asks Kadidja to send a swarm of f l i e s , symbols of her chosen g u i l t (as they were to Sartre's Orestes), to her dump. Decay and e v i l must be continued on earth. To enter the realm of the l i v i n g dead, the characters break through a white screen covered with transparent paper which represents the portal into the next world. The screens are arranged at intervals of about three feet, one behind the other, and as the characters emerge into the land of the dead they speak the same quiet phrase and then laugh s o f t l y , amazed at how easy i t a l l i s . It i s t h i s world that a l l ordinary people pass into after death, whether they be Arabs or French. However, because she s a c r i f i c e d her identity in order to merge with Said and enhance his e v i l , L e i l a does not reach t h i s a f t e r l i f e . She simply disappears, having given 66 everything of herself to Said, but without having attained his status. In her l a s t scene L e i l a holds death at bay while she touchingly recollects the lim i t a t i o n s and satisfactions of her marriage. She i s actually speaking her love for Said, but love i s not admissible in a l i f e founded on the persuit of e v i l . She concedes his destiny was greater 15 than hers, that he was "way ahead of j^her I in r a t t i n e s s , " but lays claim to her share of the honor for being his wife, for having merged her l i f e with his to help him achieve his glory. She i s w i l l i n g to die, once her thoughts have been spoken, and looks without struggle for the way to take. She travels in l i g h t and music to her death, speaking of flo a t i n g and a wave of time, then disappears. This marks her dramatic death. She i s transformed into whiffs of stink and i s never again seen onstage. Since she has surrendered her identity to Said's she cannot emerge with the others in the realm of the dead; nor does she achieve the transcen-dent status of Said. Perhaps a portion of her s p i r i t survives in him. Said goes to his f i n a l destiny alone. But before we witness his l a s t moments, Si Slimane reveals in his death speech that Said's version of his f i n a l act of betrayal was i n c o r r e c t — t h a t , in fact, he botched the episode, was caught by the Arab so l d i e r s , and shot for treason7.,. This only shows him capable of deception u n t i l the very end; other than that, i t does not affect his end. In careful preparation for Said's l a s t appearance, the stage i s divided into four horizontal areas, the highest le v e l reserved for the dead, the three below representing various locations and buildings in the v i l l a g e . The screens at the top are white and the one long screen across the stage 67 floor i s black, and i t i s here that most of the French aristocracy i s seated. Above them i s the brothel, the v i l l a g e square and the i n t e r i o r of a house, and above that i s the prison and a grocery shop. The company is assembled to wait for the a r r i v a l of Said. Genet has divided the l a s t scene into smaller scenarios involving the characters seen e a r l i e r in the playj each appears within his or her fami l i a r context, yet i s also seen as part of this monumental t o t a l i t y which i s the world of The Screens. In opposition to the mother's dance in celebration of l i f e at the beginning of the play, t h i s i s a kind of grand fi n a l e in celebration of death. Just before Said's entrance takes place, Genet has s t r a t e g i c a l l y dramatised a maxim he put forth in The Thief's Journal in 1949: "Saintliness w i l l be when the tribunal ceases, that i s , when the judge and the judged 1 6 merge." The Cadi, who formerly judged and sentenced Said, i s arrested, stripped naked with the assurance that he w i l l be subjected to a body search, and sent to prison for theft. Said and the Cadi have been made equal: "There are no more judges, there are only thieves, murderers, 17 fire-brands. . ." one of the Arabs t e l l s Said at the end of the play. The judge has become the one who i s judged, and Said w i l l be hailed as a saint. The community i s at attention for the entrance of i t s most prominent c i t i z e n . When he does enter he i s in an intermediate state of being and i s guided by Ommu, who i s now a "kind of corpse held up by two red canes." She functions as his s p i r i t u a l advisor and as a liason o f f i c e r between Said and the community during his f i n a l judgement. She t e l l s him his success as a t r a i t o r was not impressive, but that he passes the test. He i s then t r i e d for love of his wife, but i s found innocent of that: ". . . I'm not saying 68 I mas never on a point of weakening, a tenderness, l i k e the shadow of a leaf trembling above us, ready to a l i g h t , but I'd take hold of myself." After t h i s i n i t i a l phase of his t r i a l scene, there i s a f i n a l test before his deliverance. But he i s already being acclaimed as a god: "Said, Said! . . . Larger than l i f e ! . . . Your brow in the nebulae and your feet in the ocean. . . " Out of the f i l t h and degradation of their l i v e s , the Arabs have fashioned a saint: ". . . fjjwe need a Said] . . . . an., emblem that rises up from the dead, that denies l i f e . . . . preserve, preciously our Said and his saintly wife. . . . We're keeping Said. In order to protect his squalidness. . . and we're also going to water his squalidness so that 1 8 i t grows." But they w i l l have to cherish his squalidness without his loyalty because Said choses absolute alienation. As part of his f i n a l test, one of the French representatives offers Said forgiveness for his transgressions; Ommu does not want his e v i l neutralized and asks that Said refuse forgiveness. At f i r s t he rejects both pleas: "To the old gal, to the soldiers, to a l l of you, I say 19 s h i t . " However, being a weak man, he waffles, considers accepting a price. But suddenly his mother explodes in a rage, then speaks to him in a whisper. She i s depending on him to carry through his e v i l to the b i t t e r and to sustain th e i r outcastness by refusing any alliance with people or with l i f e i t s e l f — s h e wants him to s h i t on everything. When Ommu, too, encourages him to bolt for freedom, he t r i e s to leave. He defies an order to halt and is executed. His body collapses behind a screen and the play i s brought to an unceremonious end. Through the renunciation of a l l all i a n c e s , Said achieves the sa i n t l i n e s s described by Genet: "Starting from the elementary •• 69 principles of morality and r e l i g i o n , the saint arrives at his goal i f he sheds them. Like beauty—and poetry with which I merge i t - - s a i n t l i n e s s i s individual. Its expression i s o r i g i n a l . However, i t seems to me that i t s 2D sole basis i s renunciation. I associate i t with freedom." In freedom, achieved through e v i l acts and condemnation to death, Said achieves eternal l i f e as an emblem of nothingness. The f i n a l change has occurred. Said w i l l l i v e on in song. In The Balcony the purpose of the brothel i s to sa t i s f y the c l i e n t ' s need to become an image, but in The Screens' the focus i s off the customer. It i s the whore's destiny that i s important. Warda i s a highly successful prostitute who has dedicated her professional l i f e to perfecting her art. Before the insurrection she sought l i v i n g death as " . . . a perfect whore, 21 a simple skeleton draped in gilded gowns." Through dying she becomes this emblem of perfect whoredom. Warda's progress toward a l i v i n g death forms an opposing p a r a l l e l to Said's. She knows from the outset what her goal i s , and has already achieved considerable success at being dead al i v e . When the war dis t o r t s her experience by forcing her into a c t i v i t y , she realizes what she had before and begins the struggle to regain i t . Said does not know his goal in advance, and must discover i t as his l i f e progresses. But both attain eternal stasis as images by choosing to die, although Said surpasses Warda in his to t a l alienation. But Warda does achieve in death what she was unable to achieve in l i f e . Warda i s the grande dame of the l o c a l brothel, and makes an impressive sight. She wears a "dress of very heavy gold lame, high-heeled 70 red shoes, her hair coiled up in a huge blood-red chignon. Her face i s very pale. She i s about forty. . . . and has a very long and very thin nose." A r t i f i c i a l i t y and i l l u s i o n are the substance of her art, concealing the emptiness within, just as her greasepaint conceals the corrosion of her body: WARDA (to the MAID, in a drawling voice); Thick. . . thicker, the white on my ankles. . . (She i s picking her teeth with _a kind  of long gilt-headed hatpin.) It's the white that keeps the skin taut. . . . (She spits out, far off, what she had between her  teeth.) Completely decayed. . . The whole back of my mouth i s in ruins. To Warda, decay i s cherished as something that brings her closer to death. Like the Chief of Police in The Balcony, she wants to be detached from function. Function i s a burden to her and she wants the freedom of a l i v i n g death. She says death i s "quietly at work" inside her, explaining that a quarter of a century has been devolted to refining her image; "Twenty-four years! A whore's not something you can improvise. She has to ripen. It 22 took me twenty-four years. And I'm g i f t e d ! " Presumably, after reaching the pinnacle of her art, she would withdraw from a l l p r a c t i c a l aspects of prostitution and exist in the stasis of l i v i n g death as an image. Unfortun-ately her progress i s interrupted before she can attain this perfection. The revolution disturbs the established rhythmn of l i f e in the brothel by replacing i t s mystique with function. At the end of the f i r s t brothel scene, Warda is going off to look after Said. Although this indicates she i s not yet entirely free from function, the scene firmly establishes that Warda strikes awe in the hearts of many, and that the number of her appearances before admirers 71 far exceeds her engagements in the bedroom. When the next brothel scene takes place, the revolution has begun and a l l traces of mystery!''have gone from the house. There have been tremendous changes in pace and emphasis. A steady t r a f f i c of uniformed soldiers enters and leaves regularly, and Warda i s f u l l of venomous despair for her l o s t s t y l e : "Poor golden petticoats! I'd always hoped that one day, instead of being an adornment, you'd be, by yourselves, the whore in a l l her glory. A pipe dream. And picking my teeth with hatpins, my s t y l e ! " In the new circumstances function i s given p r i o r i t y , and she i s forced into active service just as the others are. However, she i s s t i l l a whore whose identifying function i s to make love for money—her function i s modified, but not changed. Her d i f f i c u l t y i s that the pace i s frenetic and the days of cu l t i v a t i n g untouchability are over: WARDA: (cu r t l y , she goes to the mirror): I do the job fast. It's a regular factory. They're k i l l i n g us, at least l e t ' s take advantage. Got to rake i t i n . Bye-bye to my hatpins for picking my teeth. My st y l e ! Bye-bye my s t y l e ! Men used to come from far away to see me, me, Warda, pick my teeth with my big hatpins. Now they come to fuck me. Perhaps most distressing to her i s the loss of alienation. The whorehouse has been accepted as part of the community: ". . . At the butcher's, at the grocer's, they say hello to me. . . I'm less and less someone, , , and my anger i s greater and greater, and so i s my sadness. It's my sadness that's going to make me invent the misfortune that's been taken away from me. . . ." To be ostracized by women was recognition of her corruption and a measure-ment of her success. She has l o s t her status as an outcast. Once s t a s i s has been taken from her, she better appreciates what she had and longs to 72 restore her l i f e to i t s former i n a c t i v i t y : "Mirror, mirror, where i s the time when I could stare at myself, and yawn, for hours on end? (She spits on the mirror.) Where are the men who used to stare at me staring at myself 23 without daring to breathe?" To regain her former alienation and s t a s i s , she t r i e s a reversal of t a c t i c s ; instead of resenting the action being imposed on her, she embraces i t and actually accelerates. In this way she becomes such a proficient whore that she drives the men of the v i l l a g e into a state of d i s t r a c t i o n . As i s the case with so many of Genet's characters, she turns misfortune to her advantage by making i t work for her rather than against her. The wives hate her for her power over their men and, in their anger, they murder her. The murder i s proof of the alienation Warda has earned despite her e a r l i e r setback. She dies and i s reborn a perfect emblem of whoredom. However, Warda does not undergo character change--she attains her goal without i t . But her struggle i s a dramatic variation on the pattern of character change. During her absence between scenes, a change occurs in her quality of l i f e due to the effects of the uprising. This change in external circumstances has an effect s i m i l a r to character change in that she must change her approach to the same dramatic action. This change in approach, forced by p o l i t i c a l events, i s so intense that i t has the impact of a changed dramatic function without actually being one. The change i s in the dramatic context in which the character must operate. In Warda's case, this forces a disruptive i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n of her f i r s t dramatic identity with the result that, without having actually experienced character change, the quality and degree of her function in the community i s substantially altered. It i s 73 this difference she must overcome to recreate her former status. Her reward for success i s death, a death she says she chose herself: " I treated myself to the death of my choice. Just as everything in my l i f e would have been chosen i f there hadn't been that stupid mess I found myself i n . . . But my 24 death was of my own making." We have been given a visc e r a l description of Warda's death by Said's mother, who watches i t from the realm of the dead; THE MOTHER (smiling): I see very well how they're going to f i n i s h ; off Warda. They'll leave blood with their k n i t t i n g needles. They're not very clever. . . . Yet the spectacle's worth a look: six knitters pounced on the lady who'd managed to become the most a r t f u l whore in the world. Together they were a giant hornet swooped down on the flower and pierced the skin of i t s belly and neck. . . the blood spouting and spotting them, and the poor thing straining every muscle to breathe her l a s t . After death Warda emerges in the realm of the dead, where she offers a fanci-f u l version of her death; ". . . that one evening. . . I went out into the darkness and the fresh a i r - - I was so delicate and SET Unmeant for l i v i n g out-of-doors that. . . when the fresh a i r struck my forehead i t k i l l e d me. 25 That's how i t happened." Like a hot-house plant, Warda i s so accustomed to the a r t i f i c i a l climate of the brothel that she cannot survive natural conditions. By revising history this way, she rebuilds a personal mythology by claiming absolute self-determination; by disregarding the role of the murderers in her death, she reduces them to mere agents, accepting nothing but her own w i l l as the cause of death. The corpse i s arranged for burial by two other prostitutes: "The corpse i s adorned in extraordinary fashion: a large gold lace dress covered with blue roses; the shoes are made of huge pink roses. The dead 74 woman's face i s painted white. Roses and jewels on her head. Between her 2 6 teeth, seven very long hatpins." Her body now restored to i t s former dignity and ornateness, Warda i s prepared for her journey to the h i e r a t i c realm of the dead. She has become the quintessential whore, an eternal image, untouchable in death. Warda's dramatic development i s unusual in these plays for several reasons. F i r s t , she does not achieve her notorious status through committing heinous crimes--she does not k i l l or betray to gain salvation. Second, of those characters seeking the freedom of a l i v i n g death, only Warda meets with circumstances beyond her control which take away her hard-earned status. Yet she has the resourcefulness and re s i l i e n c e to overcome th i s obstacle by reconstructing the l o s t alienation. To do this she improvises on the new circumstances to produce the same end. Third, she i s the only female character to become a permanent, separate emblem in l i f e after death. The characterization in The Screens i s less obviously schematic than in The Balcony or The Blacks. Because of t h i s , the development of Said and Warda seems to evolve from changing dramatic needs, without that mechanical, predetermined quality attached to the action of the characters in the two e a r l i e r plays. Like Irma and the Queen before her, Warda does not achieve character change, lending weight to the probability that women cannot exper-ience character change in Genet. But character change i s an essential element in Said's development, making i t also a strong structural force in the play. Although th i s i s true, Genet has not stressed the process of character change as a form of death and rebirth in The Screens—the emphasis i s on 75 the changed dramatic action, which i s gradually revealed rather than visually announced by costume changes or made known by changed names. His use of the convention i s more subdued and the changes are better integrated with the overall shape of the character's movement. Characterization in The Screens i s more s o l i d and well-developed than what we have seen in The Balcony and The Blacks• The Screens i s a complex, d i f f i c u l t play, but in relation to character change, i t i s more technically mature than either of the e a r l i e r plays. Through the character of Said, Genet i s at l a s t successful in translating his point of view into the dramatic medium. 76 NOTES  CHAPTER III 1. Genet, Jean, The Screens, trans. Bernard Frechtman (New York: Grove, 1962), p. 109. 2. Ibid., p. 197. 3. Ibid., p. 12. 4. Ibid., p. 26; p. 28. 5. Ibid., p. 38. 6. Ibid., p. 51; p. 52. 7. Ibid., p. 62. 8. Ibid., pp. 86-87. 9. Ibid., p. 101; p. 97; p. 144. 10. Ibid., p. 114; pp..107-108^ '109. 11. Ibid., pp. 125-126; pp. 131-132. 12. Ibid., p. 132; p. 133; Ibid.; p. 134. 13. Ibid., p. 138; Ibid.; pp. 138-139; p. 142. 14. Ibid., p. 144; Ibid.; p. 149. 15. Ibid., p. 156. 16. Genet, Thief's Journal, p. 222. 17. Genet, Screens, p. 189. 18. Ibid., p. 186; p. 190; p. 192; pp. 195-197. 19. Ibid., p. 197. 20. Genet, Thief's Journal, pp. 188-189. 21. Genet, Screens, p. 131. 22. Ibid., p. 17; p. 18; p.'22; p. 19. 23. Ibid., p.. 129; p. 130; pp. 139-140; p.' 139. 24. Ibid., p. 163. 25. Ibid., ppl 161-162; p. 163. 26. Ibid., p. 168. 77 CONCLUSION What we have seen in the preceding analysis i s a changing and developing use of character change through The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens. This growth i s accompanied by changes and developments in staging, plot and theme. The characterization grows more complex as we move from The Balcony to The Screens, with Said bearing a closer resemblance to a real person than the paper cut-out figure of the Chief of Police. Said i s cruel and self-obsessed, but he grows as a character; he i s more fleshed out than any of the characters in the e a r l i e r plays and his changing relationship with his wife, based on long association and partnership in crime, adds depth to his character and makes him seem more human. On the other hand, the Chief of Police i s sexually impotent, i s without t i e s to human beings, and seems abstract and hollow. Diouf, before his character change into Marie, is s l i g h t l y more textural than the Chief of Police, but there i s no well-developed character before Said. The changing quality of the human relationships portrayed in the plays also contributes to the complexity of the characterization. Between the Chief of Police and Irma there i s no warmth, a l l i s "dead," and he sees her as a u t i l i t y . Village and Virtue, the young lovers in The Blacks, have a brief love scene after the laughter and f i n a l exit of the Court at the end of the play. Genet has allowed this note of optimism, through a warm personal relationship between two characters, that one day blacks may evolve their 78 own way of being in the world. In The Screens Said and L e i l a form a powerful union founded on loathing and hate. They merge in this inverted love r e l a t i i o n -ship, a strangely moving union. Several characters merge with the key characters in these plays. This strengthens the character change because more than one character can take part in i t , causing the key character to accrete others, to create a larger, c o l l e c t i v e image. Most often, i t i s the women who merge with the men, making the man's transformation into image more potent when i t occurs. Df the three women chosen from the plays, only one achieves the status of image, and she does i t without experiencing character change. It may be that no female achieves character change because of the way Genet sees women rather than by design. Women in Genet primarily service men and they are prepared to s a c r i f i c e their i d e n t i t i e s for men. There i s a p a r t i a l p a r a l l e l here between Irma and L e i l a , who both surrender their i d e n t i t i e s to help their men meet their fates. This i s not applicable to the Queen in The Blacks, who is more an authority figure. But perhaps the women, because of their b i o l o g i c a l function and grasp of organic r e a l i t y , are too rooted in the world to experience character change. In Genet, metaphorical death and rebirth i s a movement away from the world, towards abstraction, something more possible to the men because they are much less rooted in organic l i f e . The women also tend to function as supports, pushing the men toward e v i l acts without committing them themselves. Warda, however, not being involved in e v i l to the same degree or with the same intention, i s a touching-ly innocent character. A changing concept of fate i s involved between the Chief of Police's 79 enforcement of his self-invented, predetermined destiny, the communal destiny of the white race played out in The Blacks, and Said's gradual discovery of the destiny that l i e s within himself. They a l l lead to eternal l i f e through death, but Said's fate more naturally follows from his struggle for f u l f i l l -ment. The fate of the white race, to exist in a state of suspended animation for thousands of years u n t i l their turn comes to rule again, i s the result of an a r t i f i c i a l ceremony expressing an ideological stance and, l i k e the Chief of Police's two thousand year wait, i s contrived to advance the plot to i t s end. Perpetual death and regeneration, however, i s promised them a l l : the Chief of Police w i l l have his image impersonated, the whites w i l l be returned to power again and again as Fortune's wheel turns, and Said w i l l l i v e forever in song. Revolution i s perhaps the most important common denominator in these plays, providing a structural format for each, and also functioning as a dominant thematic element. But i t s role in each play i s somewhat different. In The Balcony the revolution i s largely relegated to the 'r e a l ' world offstage, having some impact on the internal a c t i v i t i e s of the brothel, but primarily functioning as a backdrop for the play and as a key to the door of eternal l i f e for the Chief of Police. Revolution i s brought on stage as a r i t u a l i z e d c o n f l i c t in The Blacks. Its presence i s i n t e n s i f i e d by a concurrent 'r e a l ' revolution offstage which never becomes part of the action. The revolt has wider significance in t h i s play since i t symbolically repre-sents the dilemma of a race and i s not geared to the needs of a single character as i t was in The Balcony. In The Screens revolution i s wholly integrated with the dramatic action. Reality i s as welcome on stage in 80 The Screens as i l l u s i o n and i s considered equally v a l i d . Therefore, revolution i s not confinced to the offstage and i s developed as a dramatic complement to Said's evolving fate. Said's participation in the revolution i s not partisan but personal, as i t was for the Chief of Police. But for Said the goal i s not to impress people by military conquest, but to use the revolution as a medium through which to express his e v i l . The repetitious aspect of revolution in The Balcony and The Blacks echoes the death/rebirth metaphor of character change in the plays. As Irma prepares her studios for another day, r i f l e f i r e i s heard in the background--another revolution has begun. A l l war and peace, death and rebirth are parts of an eternally recurring cycle. Genet's way of staging the process of death and rebirth changes through the plays. In The Balcony, although there are myriad references to death and dying, the symbolic deaths that are part of the convention of character changes take place in absence. The character emerges at a late r part in the drama in a 'reborn' state and his new identifying action i s established after that. In The Blacks we witness Diouf's f i r s t death/rebirth as he takes on the identity of Marie, but his second death takes place behind a screen " i n the Greek t r a d i t i o n . " However, this second death i s well prepared and the audience knows exactly how the murder proceeds, making this death a l u c i d l y described event. But with Said, death again i s a kind of absence, his incarceration in prison serving as a symbolic form of death, and his changed dramatic function verifying his rebirth as a changed dramatic identity. In The Screens there are no new names, no new costumes, but an emphasis on internal motivation and evolving-.dramatic 81 need. The way of achieving f i n a l s tasis through character change i s also different in each play. In The Balcony i t i s a "game',''; in The Blacks i t i s a ceremony; in The Screens i t i s l i f e transcendence. In the f i r s t play the character changes seem l i k e technical incursions that are signalled to the audience by different costumes and new names. It i s as though the a r t i f i c i a l -i t y of the brothel revels overshadows any sense of true development in these characters. In The Blacks the principal•character change occurs on stage and carries some of the serious intent of r i t u a l , despite the fact that the play i s called a"clown show. Although the play i t s e l f i s more abstract than The Balcony, the staging of character change in The Blacks i s more l i t e r a l and concrete. In The Screens the character changes are more organically conceived and represent the most serious achievements in the character's l i f e , allowing him to transcend l i f e through dying. The dramatic representation of the l i v i n g death achieved in a l l these plays grows more complex and visual between the f i r s t play and the l a s t . In The Balcony the Chief of Police's f i n a l death i s simply, absence— he exits to his tomb, leaving everyone else on stage. His tomb, we know, i s one of Irma's studios. There i s no staging of l i f e after death, and we see no other inhabitants of this region. This changes somewhat in The Blacks in that Diouf i s actually seen after his symbolic death, and the Court rises up from the dead to leave the stage en masse after i t has been executed. The use of the upper balcony for Diouf's appearance after death foreshadows Genet's expansive representation of the kingdom of the dead in The Screens. In this l a s t play most of the characters who were in t r o -82 duced during the play as the l i v i n g appear l a t e r in the realm of the dead. The audience sees several characters emerge there after their other l i f e , to find contentment in eternal s t a s i s . Said transcends this form of l i v i n g death to dwell as an image in an i l l u d tempus beyond i t . The language of the three plays does not greatly change between The Balcony and The Screens, and i t has no subtantial effect on Genet's use of the convention of character change. Dialogue i s , of course, important in the plays, since so much of the action i s translated into words. But the most noticeable development i s that the language of The Screens i s more strongly poetic than the language in the other plays. For this reason, some of the speeches--Leila's death speech, for example—sear the imagination with cruel and beautiful images. Despite the s t r i k i n g o r i g i n a l i t y of many of his images, i t i s a weakness in his playwriting that Genet r e l i e s so heavily on dialogue to transmit ideas that sometimes would be better expressed in a dramatic context through action. But his language, replete as i t i s with images and references revolving around violence, corrosion, death and e v i l , i s entirely supportive of his themes. The plots of The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens are made known in advance, removing the usual element of dramatic suspense from the unfolding action. After the introductory r i t u a l s in The Balcony, the Chief of Police enters, declares his intention to divest himself of l i f e , and proceeds to do so. The s t a t i c quality of The Balcony i s not helped by the fact that most of the a c t i o n — i n c l u d i n g the Chief of Police's main action of putting down the r e b e l l i o n — o c c u r s offstage. At the beginning of The Blacks, the actors who are about to perform the ceremony announce their 83 plot as well, leaving the audience to watch what i s basically a long verbal confrontation with very l i t t l e action. After the e a r l i e r plays, The Screens i s an oasis of vulgarity, color and a c t i v i t y . There i s a s i g n i f i c a n t change in the events and neither Said nor the audience, as we have seen, knows the plot in advance. Said's development through character change evolves with the changing circumstances of the plot in such a way that they appear naturally interdependent, whereas the predominant impression l e f t by The Balcony and The Blacks i s that the events were mechanically arranged to accommodate the fates of the main characters. This integration of plot with character development i s one of the most important accomplishments of Genet's playwriting. Genet's a b i l i t y to express his dramatic ideals through characteriza-tion matured between The Balcony and the l a s t play. The characters in The Balcony and The Blacks are mechanically negotiated through the character changes required to move them toward eternal s t a s i s . The underlying process of death and rebirth i s always present, but the identity changes are prominently schematic, and i t i s only with The Screens that Genet's use of the convention of character change i s more subtle. Said's discovery of his fate, gradually realized through the development and refinement of his cr i m i n a l i t y , i s also achieved through character change. But the changes in Said seem to evolve more naturally, because Genet has integrated Said's struggle for h i e r a t i c status with the dramatic developments of the plot. In the character of Said, Genet has accomplished the perfect dramatic embodiment of his world view. 84 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary References Genet, Jean. The Balcony. Translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1958, 1960. . The Blacks: _A Clown Show. Translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1960. . The Screens. Translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1962. Other Works by Genet Genet, Jean. Letters to Roger B l i n : Reflections on the Theatre. Translated from the French by Richard Seaver. New York: Grove, 1969. . The Maids and Deathwatch. Translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1954. . "Note on Theatre." Tulane Drama Review Vol. VII, No. 3 (1963): 37-41. . The Thief's Journal. Translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman. New York; Bantam, 1965. Background References A r i s t o t l e . Poetics. New York: H i l l and Wang, 1969. Artaud, Antonin. The Theatre and Its Double. New York: Grove, 1958. Beckerman, Bernard. Dynamics of Drama. New York: Knopf, 1970. Bentley, E r i c , ed. The Theory of the Modern Stage. Baltimore: Penguin, 1968. Cole, David. The Theatrical Event. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1975. 85 E s s l i n , Martin. Reflections: Essays on the Modern Theatre. New York: Doubleday, 1969. Fergusson, Francis. The Idea of Theatre. New York: Doubleday, 1949. Gassner, John. Form and Idea in Modern Theatre. New York: Dryden, 1956. Lawson, John Howard. Theory and Technique of Playwriting. New York: H i l l and Wang, 1960. Rosenberg, Harold. "Character Change and the Drama." In Perspectives on  Drama, pp. 324-336. Edited by James L. Calderwood and Harold E. Toliver. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. Styan,- J.L. The Elements of Drama. New York: Cambridge University Press, ' 1960, 1963. Works on Genet Brustein, Robert. The Theatre of Revolt. Toronto; L i t t l e , Brown, 1964. Cetta, Lewis C.'Profane Play, R i t u a l , and Jean Genet: _A Study of His Drama. University of Alabama Press, 1974. Coe, Richard N., ed. The Theatre of Jean Genet: _A Casebook. New York: Grove, 1970. . The Vision of Jean-Genet. New York: Grove, 1968. Driver, Tom F. Jean Genet. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966. Es s l i n , Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. New York: Doubleday, 1969. Fowlie., Wallace. Dionysus in Paris. New York; Merisian, 1969. Goldman, Lucien. "The Theatre of Jean Genet: A Sociological Study." In The Drama Review (T 38), Winter, 1968, pp. 51-61. Grossvogel, David I. The Blasphemers. New York: Cornell University Press, 1962. Knapp, Bettina L. Jean Genet. New York: Twayne, 1968. McMahon, Joseph H. The Imagination of Jean Genet. London: Yale University Press, 1963. 86 / Sartre, Jean-Paul. Saint Genet.i New. York: Mentor, 1963. Taubes, Susan. "The White Mask F a l l s . " In Tulane Drama Review, Vol. VII, No. 3 (1963), pp. 85-92. Thjody, P h i l i p . Jean Genet. New York: Stein and Day, 1968. Wellwarth, George. The Theatre of Protest and Paradox. New York University Press, 1971. 


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