Lies or Deceptions: A Central Role in Plays
In art as in life, lies or deceptions play a central role. Lies can have good intentions or bad intentions. Lies also serve as a function to justify certain behavior and sometimes to protect a person. Lies are powerful and can have an unintended affect. In A Doll House, The Important of Being Earnest, and The Misanthrope, lies and deceptions play a central role. In each play, the “deceiver” has his or her motives for the lies/deception in which it can or cannot be justified.
Although lies are stereotyped as being a “bad” thing, sometimes they are told to protect a person. In Henrik Isben’s A Doll House, Nora was the deceiver in the play. Nora did not actually tell a lie, she just kept the truth from her husband. She had “done something indiscreet” to save her husband from dying (663).
Nora borrowed money from Nils Krogstad without her husband’s consent. At the time, Torvald’s life was in danger and she had nobody to go to; her father was “too sick at the time” (663).
Nora did not tell him about the money because she knew that “with all his masculine pride,” it would be “painfully humiliating for him if he ever found out he was in debt to [Nora],” a woman who happens to be his wife in that matter (663).
Not only did Nora borrow money without Torvald’s permission, she also forged her father’s signature in order to get the money from Krogstad. Her deception was revealed when Krogstad sent Torvald a letter, which stated everything that Nora had done. Nora had good intentions for doing what she did because she “loved [Torvald] more than all this world…a way a wife ought to love her husband” (684).
Ever since 'A Doll House' first came to the stage in the 1880's, critics have argued vehemently about the Ibsen's intentions while writing the play, and the ambivalence over the play confused not only the plays but also the audience: while some patrons praised the play, others stormed the stages in protest of Nora's abandonment of her family. The difference of opinion ranged so far as to incite ...
She did this for her husband’s sake and had no benefits for herself. In the end, instead of a “thank you,” she was instead called “a hypocrite, a liar…[and] a criminal” (684).
Sometimes fabrications are used with no harm intended. In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, lies were used either to go somewhere or to get out of something. Jack had “invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest” in order to get up to town (769).
Jack’s “brother” always “gets into the most dreadful scrapes,” so Jack has go into town to get him out of them (769).
Jack’s lie about having a brother does not harm anybody in anyway, nor does it have any effects on a person. Jack’s friend Algernon also invented “an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury…[who] has extraordinary bad health” (769).
Algernon used Bunbury as an excuse to get out of family obligations. When his Aunt Augusta invites him to dinner, instead of telling her that he wishes not to go, Algernon would tell her that he had to go to visit his sick, possibly dying, friend. Again there was no harm done to Aunt Augusta. In fact, this made-up character can be justified as a way not to hurt her feelings when he refuses her invitation. Both Jack and Algernon got away with these lies in order to go into town or to get out of family obligations. However, their lies get uncovered, as most lies eventually do. Algernon who was “perfectly heartless,” went up town and pretended to be Ernest (785).
With all the confusion going on about whom was really Ernest, their “gross deception” was finally revealed. Jack’s ward and Algernon’s cousin were both present, so there was no way that they could deny anything.
In Moliere’s The Misanthrope, Celimene was the character that was very deceiving. Although she found the men to be “tiresome ass” and was annoyed by their “unwelcome attentions,” she never once told this to their faces. When they came over to her house, she pretended to enjoy their company. Celimene “can’t antagonize such men [because] they’re the chartered gossips of the court and have a say in things of every sort” (535).
Wherever two people communicate, deception is a reality. It is present in our everyday social and professional lives and its detection can be beneficial, not only to us individually but to our society as a whole. For example, accurate deception detection can aid law enforcement officers in solving a crime. It can also help border control agents to detect potentially dangerous individuals during ...
She only wanted to use them in order to get on top of the social ladder. Often the men demanded to know who her heart belonged to, but she never revealed the person. Celimene played with their hearts and minds. Her deceptions were revealed when her letter that she had written to a friend was found. In that letter, all of her true feelings were expressed:
How absurd you are to condemn my lightheartedness in society, and to accuse me being happiest in the company of others. Nothing could be more unjust… Viscount, whose name stands in your first complaint, is hardly a man to my taste…I have been unable to think highly of him. As for the little Marquess…I find him in all respects the most trifling creature alive…For the man with the green ribbons…I think him the greatest bore in the world…And Clitandre, whom you mention, and who so pesters me with his saccharine speeches, is the last man on earth for whom I could feel any affection (548).
The letter was read to all of the men mentioned in the letter, with the exception of Viscount. Celimene, who once had all these men at her feet, was now left lonely. After the letter was found, all the men saw the real Celimene and no longer wanted her. Her loss of all of their hearts was her punishment (548).
Celimene only thought of herself because she just wanted “the admiration of the world” (550).
In the end she lost everything, including Alceste.
Lies and deceptions are powerful. In A Doll House, The Importance of Being Ernest, and The Misanthrope lies and deception served as a function and purpose for each of the characters in the plays. They were used for protection or for advantages. Sometimes lies and deceptions can be justified, other times they just can’t be justified. As art as in life, lies and deception play a central role.
What is the American Dream? There are a myriad of aspects to it, but one general idea: the ideal life. It is making a lot of money, being respected, and triumphing difficult situations. In the book Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, Lennie and George’s dream is to live on a ranch of their own. But through these difficult times will their hard work pay off? In his novel, Of Mice and Men, ...