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Insect Comedy


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AT: The Insect Play; (From) the Life of (the) Insects; The World We Live In; And So Ad Infinitum A: Karel and Josef Čapek Pf: 1922, Brno Pb: 1921 Tr: 1923 G: Com. in 3 acts, prologue, and epilogue; Czech prose and verse S: Parts of a forest, indeterminate period C: 21m, 5f, extrasPrologue and (1) The Butterflies. A drunken Tramp falls asleep and dreams of butterflies. Felix, a butterfly-poet, is still a virgin though he is chased by females. Iris, failing to seduce him, flirts with the Tramp, who chases her off. Iris's new lover is eaten by a bird, which she finds highly amusing. Still reciting love poetry, Felix flies off. (2) The Marauders. While a chrysalis struggles into life, promising that ‘something great is at hand’, two beetles roll on a ball of dung, which is stolen by another beetle. Mr and Mrs Cricket are gleeful about the fate of another cricket caught by a fly, but they too are also seized by the fly and impaled on a thorn. The Tramp is shocked at the war going on ‘between blades of grass’ and witnesses a parasite happily eating the wriggling crickets. (3) The Ants. As the chrysalis struggles to be born, an ant colony proclaims that since they all work for the welfare of their state, they are masters of the earth. When a colony of yellow ants invades, there is a bloody war. The triumphant yellow leader declares himself ruler of the world but is crushed underfoot by the Tramp. Epilogue: Life and Death. At last the chrysalis bursts forth as a moth but dies almost immediately. The Tramp dies, as a woman takes her baby to baptism. In an alternate ending the Tramp awakes from his dream and, relieved, joyfully accepts the offer of a job.

AT: The Insect Play; (From) the Life of (the) Insects; The World We Live In; And So Ad Infinitum A: Karel and Josef Čapek Pf: 1922, Brno Pb: 1921 Tr: 1923 G: Com. in 3 acts, prologue, and epilogue; Czech prose and verse S: Parts of a forest, indeterminate period C: 21m, 5f, extras

(1) The Butterflies. A drunken Tramp falls asleep and dreams of butterflies. Felix, a butterfly-poet, is still a virgin though he is chased by females. Iris, failing to seduce him, flirts with the Tramp, who chases her off. Iris's new lover is eaten by a bird, which she finds highly amusing. Still reciting love poetry, Felix flies off. (2) The Marauders. While a chrysalis struggles into life, promising that ‘something great is at hand’, two beetles roll on a ball of dung, which is stolen by another beetle. Mr and Mrs Cricket are gleeful about the fate of another cricket caught by a fly, but they too are also seized by the fly and impaled on a thorn. The Tramp is shocked at the war going on ‘between blades of grass’ and witnesses a parasite happily eating the wriggling crickets. (3) The Ants. As the chrysalis struggles to be born, an ant colony proclaims that since they all work for the welfare of their state, they are masters of the earth. When a colony of yellow ants invades, there is a bloody war. The triumphant yellow leader declares himself ruler of the world but is crushed underfoot by the Tramp.

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Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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