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Guardsman


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AT: Where Ignorance Is Bliss A: Ferenc Molnár Pf: 1910 Pb: 1910 Tr: 1910 G: Com. in 3 acts; Hungarian prose S: Vienna, 1900s C: 3 m, 4 fThe six-month-old marriage between Nandor, an actor, and his actress wife Ilona is already showing strains. He questions her jealously, she insists on playing Chopin, which the husband thinks hints at the melancholy of autumn, while it is still in fact only May. The husband resolves to test her fidelity by courting her disguised as an Austrian guardsman. He first passes beneath her window and is then invited into the house. Later at the opera the wife admits to the Guardsman that she still loves her husband but continues to welcome her ‘lover's’ advances. The husband, who has pretended to have been away on a journey, returns unexpectedly, finding his wife on the point of meeting the Guardsman. Screened by his costume trunk, he dons the Guardsman's uniform and steps out to reveal his true identity. However, the wife is unsurprised: she had seen through his disguise and is unimpressed with his ability as an actor, but says that she would like to continue with this game.

AT: Where Ignorance Is Bliss A: Ferenc Molnár Pf: 1910 Pb: 1910 Tr: 1910 G: Com. in 3 acts; Hungarian prose S: Vienna, 1900s C: 3 m, 4 f

Although Molnár's Liliom is better known, indeed the most internationally successful Hungarian play, The Guardsman is a more polished piece. Its probing examination of a marriage is both witty and moving, and, like Schnitzler, Molnár masterfully portrays the ambiguities and tensions of a marriage where the wife is able to assert her individuality. The game played by wife and husband would find its echo in Pinter's The Lover.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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