Madness in costume. The metatheatricality of Henry IV by Luigi Pirandello

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Aleksandra Koman


The aim of this article is to explore the theatrical nature of madness in one of Luigi Pirandello’s most famous characters: Henry IV. For the purposes of this paper I denominate his state “madness in costume”, for a number of reasons. First of all, the costume, an inherent attribute of the main character, becomes a determinant of the fictional and theatrical dimension in the drama. It therefore refers to thinking about madness in terms of theatricality: not only because of a certain kind of artistry in the act of madness, but also because the simulation of the insanity made Henry an actor who plays his role within the fictional world-stage he has created. The awareness of the fictional nature of that world testifies to the metatheatrical character of the play, in which the unconcealed artificiality of the presented world is emphasized by the theat- rical costume accompanying Henry from his memorable fall during the masquerade until the resolution of the plot.


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Cultural studies