Six Characters in Search of an Author | Study Guide

Luigi Pirandello

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Six Characters in Search of an Author | Character Analysis



The Father has a serene, gentle temperament most of the time. He can become angry and violent quickly. He frequently takes on the role of spokesperson for the six Characters. His monologues explain the Characters' unusual fate and family history. He sent the Mother away to marry another man, but followed her new family from afar. He nearly slept with the Stepdaughter in a brothel. He expresses regret for his actions, although he claims he meant well.


The Stepdaughter is brash, flirtatious, dynamic, and emotional. She feels disgust and contempt for many members of her family, especially the Father, Son, and Boy. She is mourning the death of her father, the Mother's second husband. To support the family after the death, she worked in a brothel run by Madame Pace. The Stepdaughter has a fervent desire to express her true story onstage. She is the only live one to successfully leave the group of Characters at the play's end.


The Mother is the most actively tormented of the Characters. She mourns her second husband's death, the deaths of the Boy and the Little Girl, and her Son's estrangement. Her grief is represented by her veil and the wax tears drawn on her mask. She expresses her feelings on an emotional or natural level. She doesn't give her own version of the Characters' story but confirms or denies the events other Characters describe. Although she appears passive, she reacts strongly in several scenes. She tears the Father and Stepdaughter apart when they reenact their encounter. Toward the play's end, she moves to reunite with the Son.


The Son refuses to participate in the family's scenes. He feels the other Characters dragged him onto the stage. He believes the family's shameful drama should stay hidden, and he is disgusted with the Father for revealing their story. Since the Father sent him to a wet nurse when he was young, the Son was raised away from the family. When he returned, he wouldn't accept the Stepdaughter, Boy, and Little Girl as his half-siblings. After he refused to reunite with the Mother, she tried to drown herself. He remains estranged from his parents. The Son tries to leave the stage but is physically unable to walk down the steps, implying that despite himself he has an unavoidable role in the Characters' drama.


Pirandello describes the Boy as "a presence watching and performing a gesture." At first he seems inert, incapable of moving in response to instructions from the Director. When he watches the Little Girl drown in a fountain, he takes out a revolver and shoots himself. The Actors, unsure whether the Characters are illusions or reality, can't tell if he is really dead.

Little Girl

The Little Girl is unaware of the drama around her and may not know where she is. She drowns in a fountain while playing without supervision. The Stepdaughter reenacts her death on the stage by hiding her in the fountain.


The Director is authoritative, businesslike, and focused. He is proud of the work his theater company does, but he doesn't like the plays they have to perform. His goal is to present a production following the rules of conventional theater. He is frustrated when the Characters don't present a linear or consistent story. However, he praises the dramatic potential of their conflict onstage, unaware the Characters are expressing their real emotions as opposed to his playing only a role.

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