|Written by||Maurice Maeterlinck|
|Date premiered||15 March 1895|
Cast of characters
|In the garden||In the house|
The old man and the stranger appear outside the house. The family can be seen within through the windows. The old man and the stranger argue over how to inform the family of the death of one of the daughters. As the crowd approaches with the body, the old man enters the house and can be seen through the windows informing them of their loss.
The main theme of the play is death. Maeterlinck creates tension by contrasting the anxiety of the characters in the garden with the serenity and ignorance of the family within the house.
Maeterlinck, an avid reader of Arthur Schopenhauer, believed that man was ultimately powerless against the forces of fate. Believing that any actor, due to the limitations of his physical mannerisms and expressions, was unable to portray the symbolic figures of his plays, Maeterlinck decided that marionettes were an excellent alternative. Being guided by strings, which are operated by a puppeteer, marionettes are an excellent representation of fate's complete control over man.
Maeterlinck never clarifies whether the girl's death was a suicide. The stranger says she had been spotted walking along the riverbank. The old man says: "She smiled as they smile who choose to be silent, or who are afraid they will not be understood ... She seemed hardly to hope."
- Bettina Knapp, Maurice Maeterlinck, (Twayne Publishers: Boston, 1975), 83.
- Knapp, 84.
- Knapp, 77-8
- Maurice Maeterlinck, Home in The Plays of Maurice Maeterlinck, second series, pp. 163-191, Richard Hovey, trans., (Duffield and Company:New York, 1908), p. 172.