Interpretation of Witkacy's Play Shoemaker's Essay

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Shoemakers -- a Philosophical Approach

Stanis-aw Ignacy Witkiewicz, also known in the dramatic circle as Witkacky was born in the year 1885, his father being Stanislaw Witkiewicz. He was famous widely for his many talents including his talents as an admirer of art hence making him a very sound critic in the field; he was also a painter and the introducer of the Zakapone style of painting. He discovered his drama writing skills later on in life, but in his earlier years he was an army officer for the Czarist army. He left Poland before the Russian war but later came back once the revolution had been achieved, which motivated him to take painting seriously. This was when his talent for art and appreciation for human psychology was first observed, he was starting to become known as the artist who was able to pinpoint the internal emotions of his models rather than just their physical state.

Witkacy -- As a Dramatist

In his life Witkacy wrote more than 30 dramas and plays, each had the distinct quality of being completely different than any of his other plays from every conceivable point-of-view. He was also the author of various novels, where he took upon himself to critic and asks basic questions challenging the monotonous environment of literature and the "appropriate" ethical code. His plays were often exaggerated in their message of defying the norms and he himself was never afraid to encourage people to think aside of what was perceived to be as "normal," this has its drawbacks as well, since almost none of his plays were reviewed with the most appreciative words, it was mostly shock and the unbelievable expressions that followed his plays (Tuwim. 1968).

In this paper we will attempt to analyze one of Witkacys most famous plays to date called the "shoemakers." We will attempt to make a philosophical approach to the play, since all of his plays had a very deep philosophical element hidden in them.

The Shoemakers

The Shoemakers is Witkacy's last surviving play to date. He wrote this play in 8 years making it the most the longest time it took for him to write a play. The play is a very appropriate interpretation of a dead and deceased society which only follows the laws that have been bestowed upon it, without questioning anything; it's basically depicts our lives being into a zombie form of living (Miosz. 1983) The play revolves around the sexual, artistic and social aspects of a society, hence with this play Witkacys presents a time where the society has nothing to do, is bored and is caught in despair and frustration over the way everyday life rolls and on the predictable elements of life they are surrounded in.

This is Witkacys longest play and it wasn't adopted till 1927. This play also showcases song in all its acts and is found in sets of "threes." Witkacy not only dwells in the political, social and sexual elements that reside in a society but he also ponders over the philosophical aspect every individual represents which makes a collective society. Factors like how a society can achieve evolution and how can one discover their individuality is of keen importance in the play.

The Triangular Theory

Once the play starts with the shoe makers workshop, two different themes are visible, one the triangular theory that is visible throughout the play, with everything being in sets of three and the colorful yet dull interior of the play depicts the life of the people living in the society, their lives are boring and dull but at the same time they are capable of being brought back from the dead as well. From the color of the curtains to the dead dull grey walls even the sky follows the "set of three" theory. With these triangular backgrounds the three shoe makers are shown (Tuwim. 1968).

The opening of the play shows the haphazard nature and routine of our lives, which are depict3ed by the screaming car horns, the busy and loud life of factory workers with the out of the order tree trunk who seemed to have reached the end of his life stands as a misfit among the hustle bustle around. The writer uses the triangular theory to describe the scientific and Hegelian dialectical aspect of the subject of the play. Using the three acts of the play as support Witkacy sheds light of the social classes existing in the play or in the society in general at that part of time. The three classes described are the aristocratic, working and bourgeoisie class.

This is not it, he uses the triangular theory to describe the three revolutions in the play also the three segments of politics. The three segments of politics used in the play are fascism, communism, totalitarism; these are depicted as the three results of the revolutions that took place.

The Three Social Cast Systems

To understand better the sets of three we can divide the play into the abstract and the concrete message it delivers along with its concepts. The hidden meanings in the plays are found very often and always ask various philosophical questions. For instance, the two triangles that are intersecting represent the symbol of God, who is the creator of all human beings. If we search various religions and cultures for the intersecting star concept we will find many answers, in Buddhism the triangle is called the Trimutri, it can be described by using the three cast systems for instance, Brahma who is perceived as the creator, Vishnu is perceived as the maintainer and Siva is thought to be the destroyer (Dukore. 1995). However, even though these symbols lead to mythical and mystical concepts regarding creation, throughout the play only one boot is produced.

The Three Revolutions and political "isms"

The revolution aspect is strongly connected to the three cast systems of life, but still in the play the revolution as it is supposed to, yet does not provide any creative input. On the turnabout they are shown to only cause destruction and chaos as it is shown at the end or the middle of each act. All the three acts of the shoemaker end in some kind of revolution, whose impact is collectively shown in the last act. The revolutionary endings to each act connect the factor to the last aspect of the triangle, which is politics act 1 ends with the revolution of fascism, act 2 in communism and act 3 in totalitarism. However none of the revolution or the political aspects brings about the desired results as they are commonly expected too (Gerould. 1977). The common expectation from these changes are eradication of all the ills and short comings of a society, hence providing a new dawn for the people, whose earlier life was nothing but a repulsive existence.

The last act depicts the message of the world gone mad due to constantly trying to make it a better place using political and revolutionary tactics. It gives the message how easy it is for the world to lose its mind, and in one second the things that give one meaning and reason lose their importance for no reason at all since there are no real threats contrary to what we think the world as no safe place at all. Hence hyperworkoid's theory of the F-Bomb proves to be a complete failure, considering he himself is a eunuch. Hence, instead of the promised girls emerging from the "euophiran" only "mulsh" comes to everyone's disappointment. Also the revelation of the Mulch coming from Wyspianski's, the wedding only turns out to be a man not so important and forgetful who is only interested in dancing to the tango music played from the savory hotel in some part of London. The long forgotten traditions, culture and the myths of the 19th century Poland no one remembers. The drama society has become extensively boring, clean and false it its claims and is only hence moving towards destruction. The play concludes with the message that man is never satisfied with what he has and hence there is no hope for the betterment of man who has been and always will be his own enemy and responsible for his own meaningless existence (Gerould. 1981).


The shoemakers is a weird and grotesque monopoly of manners, in which each member belonging to his respective class till the end doesn't even recognize himself and hence his character becomes disoriented and scattered.

Disorientation in the Play:

The worker or the "maintainer" turns into a negative aspect and becomes as ruined as the capitalist shown in the play, Scurvy who is also called the "son of a whore" becomes maddened due to his endless sex drives, his sucking of tobacco nature.

His character at the end becomes that of a mad dog that becomes a sadistic, greedy nymphomaniac of a duchess who is claimed to have an "affective bitch virus" that has the power to transform…[continue]

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