Reality and illusion, two separate worlds bound together in the eyes of human beings. As people, we use this illusion to blanket our reality, cover it from the darkness of the truth, to deny anything that might oppose our principles, thus securing our lives by blocking out what we fear. However, when lifting this blanket of illusion from our eyes, we see our true unmasked humanity. The plays, Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, The House of Bernada Alba, by Lorca, and The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, all show that through the shattering of one’s illusion, the true essence of one’s soul is revealed.
Samuel Beckett’s, Waiting for Godot focuses on two men, Vladimir and Estragon, sharing the same illusion that a man named Godot will arrive to meet them. They wait with each other, talking continuously about anything that will aid them in “passing the time.”(Beckett 29) Even when a new character, Pozzo, is presented to them, they dismiss his following exit with the phrase, “That passed the time”(Beckett 29) as if their whole purpose in life is to wait and expect something to occur and change things, Godot. This is their illusion. The pointless conversation that they share amongst each other through out the story is a mechanism of illusion they use to distract themselves from the current reality of their situation. However, like all illusions, this one starts to disappear in the mind of Vladimir.
“I waited for Godot?… But in all that what truth will there be?… of me too someone is saying, he is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. (pause) I can’t go on! (pause) What have I said?”(Beckett 64) Vladimir questions the situation, the illusion that he has lived with. When this illusion is shattered, we see the true personality of Vladimir. He is afraid of reality, yet he possesses a courage that breaks the illusion for a moment and sees the truth, the repetitive nonsense of reality. “We have time to grow old. The air is filled with our cries. (he listens) But habit is a great deadener.”(Beckett 64)After saying this, a boy sent by Godot enters. As a result of his new realistic perception, Vladimir answers the boy in a dull tone and talks to the boy as if already knowing what the boy is going to say. “Vladimir: He won’t come this evening.
Boy: No sir. Vladimir: But he’ll come tomorrow. Boy: Yes sir. Vladimir: Without Fail.” (Beckett 64) His dull and jaded tone shows of his knowledge of reality and the situation he is in. However, being part of his personality, Vladimir chooses to return back to his old self, deny the truth, and hide under the umbrella of illusion. This occurs when he starts questioning the boy about Godot. “Has he a beard, Mr. Godot?…Fair or black?”(Beckett 65) His questions show his regain in curiosity and belief in the illusion. Vladimir returns his former self and to the belief of the illusive Godot.
In Lorca’s, The House of Bernada Alba, Bernada chooses to see the same kind of illusion. Her five daughters have been living, trapped, in the family’s house their whole lives. As passion, jealousy, and love, grows between the five sisters, their emotions collide with Bernada’s principles. Despite this emotional tension between the sisters, Bernada chooses not to see the obvious tension, using illusion to alter her perception of reality and deny the current conflict. Even though “something very grave is happening,”(Lorca 191)Bernada insists that her “daughters respect and have never gone against will.”(Lorca 191)
However, similar to Vladimir’s breaking of illusion, Bernada soon faces reality. This occurs in the incident of Adel’s death. When this occurs, Bernada is forced to witness the result of her own denial and ignorance. “As soon as breaks loose and fly,” Bernada ultimately “brings down with stones.”(Lorca 191) It is Bernarda’s illusion and denial of reality which were the stones that killed Adel. Now with her daughter dead, Bernarda is forced to come face to face with reality. In response to this shattering of illusion, she answers in silence. Her silence presents an eerie atmosphere within the setting, as it is the first time Bernada has nothing to say, to answer for her guilt.
Her illusion has shattered and the essence of Bernada’s soul is shown simply by the emptiness of silence. Without her illusion she is weak, cold, and empty. And with this emptiness, she tries once again to regain her illusion and refill her empty heart with the denial of reality and the grips of authority. She alters her reality by denying the truth, and stating that her “daughter died a virgin…No one will say anything about this! She died a virgin… And I want no weeping. Death must be looked at face to face…silence, silence, I said. Silence!”(Lorca 211) The illusion and denial that killed Adel is now becoming alive again. Bernada uses the blanket of illusion to cover her daughter’s death and deny the current reality.