, Research Paper
The modern play, The Visit, exemplifies the meaning of old Greek tragedy. The
story portrays a young woman named Claire Zachanassian whose life was changed at the
age of seventeen. This life was put on hold by Anton Schill, her one and only true love.
The story has many elements that portray a typical Greek tragedy play. They are faced
with moods and feelings of a Greek chorus to the conflicts and problems of a Greek
tragedy. Even though The Visit is seen as a modernized play, it still holds the
characteristics of a Greek tragedy play, such as, Antigone by Sophocles.
Claire Zachanassian can be seen as a person in inescapable pain. At seventeen her
life was ruined by Anton Schill, a man she once loved. Her relationship with Schill was
abruptly stopped when she became pregnant with his child. Claire brought Schill to court
so she could get his help to raise their child. Schill refused immediately and bribed two
men by the names of Jacob Hueblen and Ludwig Sparr, with a bottle of schnapps, to
incorrectly testify that they had slept with her on occasion. The testimonies of the two
men left Claire no choice but to leave town and become a whore. When Claire marries
she becomes a rich and powerful woman. Even though her power exceeded everyone?s
from her past, what happened became a vital aspect in her life that could never be
changed. Claire sees that no matter what she has become, what happened will not change
part of her. Therefore, Claire Zachanassian becomes the one character that demonstrates
a person who goes through inescapable pain in the play. She seeks a revenge and in order
to reach this revenge she hires men, from her past, to take on her duties. She hires the
magistrate, who took on her case at seventeen, Bobby Hofer, as her butler and Kobby and
Lobby, who are earlier known as Jacob and Ludwig, to be her slaves.
Although The Visit is not a Greek tragedy, it exemplifies the basic rules of a
Greek tragedy. The play presents the reader with a Greek like chorus known as the
townsman. The townsman are very similar to the chorus in Antigone by Sophocles. The
use of Gullen?s townspeople compare to the Greek tragedy Antigone because they are
both the voice of the people. In a Greek chorus a group of individuals gather together
throughout the play to discuss the moods and feelings of the people in the town. The real
use of the townsman in The Visit is to stir up conflict and moods of the audience. The
chorus represents the ideas of the audience and of the entire town. In every Greek tragedy
there is a chorus which lets you look into both sides of the story.
Claire, a dynamic character in the story, is like a goddess. The story portrays her
to be someone with little morals and concerns. As the story progresses the reader can
begin to understand why Claire would be imaged as a goddess. Since Claire has become
very wealthy, the town of Gullen looks up to her for help. They prepare for her to come
into Gullen with banners and welcome signs. Everyone looks up to he, as though, she is a
goddess figure who has come to help the people. She was considered a savior, by the
people, but really she was the one dooming them from the start. She does this by owning
everything in town. Her power and wealth determined the fate and free will of the
In every Greek tragedy play there contains a conflict. This is what makes The
Visit a modernized Greek tragedy. The conflict that The Visit contains is fate vs. free
will. The free will in the story is best symbolized when Anton Schill corrupts Claire
Zachanassian at the beginning of the story. By his own ?free will? he made the decision
to destroy Claire?s reputation as a young woman, which forced her out of Gullen. He
chose to bribe Jacob Hueblin and Ludwig Sparr to pretend they had sexual relations with
Claire. After Anton Schill had done this it became the fate of Claire to seek revenge.
The fate in the story is best described with the character, Claire Zachanassian.
Her fate was to leave Gullen and become a millionaire after marrying eight men. This
spoke to her as an opportunity to get revenge on the town that turned her away at the age
of seventeen. She explains that, ?nothing is forgotten. Neither the morning in the forest,
nor the nights in the great barn, nor the bedroom in the cottage, nor treachery at the end.?
This exemplifies why she can never leave her past behind. She controls the townspeople
with her money because the town is left with no money. Money controls the fate of
everyone in town.
As the play progresses, Schill is seen as a figure who emerges into a noble person
through his suffering. He becomes a heroic person when he owns up to his past. Schill
has a chance to kill himself but he knows how wrong he was causing one to feel for him
as he will no longer fight his fate. Schill just turns away and explains, ?You may kill me
if you like. I won?t complain, I won?t protest. I won?t defend myself. But I won?t do
your job for you either?(465). This explains that he no longer wants to run from this. He
wants to become someone who is willing to sacrifice his own life for the good of the
townspeople of Gullen. This is how the use of a recognition scene is captured.
Anton Schill is now becoming a heroic figure. He shows the characteristics of
high status and also he recognizes the flaws he holds. Schill?s recognition scene is when
he comes downstairs and realizes what is going to become of his life. It is brought out the
most when Schill declines the truck drivers offer to drive him to . Schill explains, ?This
is my town. This is my home. No, thank you. I?ve changed my mind. I?m staying.?
This shows Schill as the dynamic hero in the story because he is willing to sacrifice his
life to be a part of his town.
In The Visit there are a few observance of unites. The unity of time in the play is
when there is a flashback before the meeting. Schill and Claire reminisce about when
they were young and in love. This flashback is to show how time has change since they
were young and now they can not go back to what it use to be. Unity of plot emphasizes
on the relationship of Schill and Claire. It concentrates on how it effects both of their
lives in the end. Schill is now going to die and Claire still has the pain of what she
suffered as a young lady. In the unity of place the focus is on the town of Gullen and how
it has changed. This centers on the main transformations of the town. They once looked
down on Claire and now that she has money and power they look up to her. This is the
changing point in the unity of place and a demonstration of how life has change in
Throughout the trials and tribulation of Claire she managed to be without the one
man that disrespected her. Although Claire had all the power in the town now, Schill will
always remain the main heroic figure in this play because of what he did for the well
being of the people. Now the people of Gullen will always remember Schill as someone
who took it upon himself to be brave for one thing and that is to help the poor town of
The Visit is a play about love, hurt, envy and revenge. These things are basis of
great Greek tragedy. The elements that are presented throughout the paper represents the
main focus on an old Greek play. When the reader reads the play they get a good sense of
what is really the main focus of the story. The story shows a tragic hero that falls and is
lifted by his morals in the end.