Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Masked Man

There has long been debate over the character of the Masked Man who appears in the final scene of Spring Awakenings. Who is he and what does he represent?

One figure often cited is God. Makes sense; an omnipotent being who is there to save Melchior from Moritz's entreaty to suicide offering him a chance at redemption. There are lots of textual allusion to a Christian-like God, but the character says himself that he is a real persons and a man.

There is also speculation that the character is the author himself. There is evidence that Wedenkind had taken roles in his own plays and perhaps had intended to play this part himself as grand gesture to set everything right in this world.

But I think there is a deeper meaning in the masked man which can only be best illustrated by another question: who is the masked man in your life?

If we look at the play, we see many characters looking to reach out to someone for guidance, for reassurance, for knowledge, for validation, and a whole host of other very human needs. Moritz wants his parents to not hate him for failing school - not finding that he commits suicide. Welenda just wants to know about the changes in her body - because her mother won't talk to her about it, Welenda ends up pregnant and dying from complications of an attempted abortion. Melchior is looking for someone to make sense of it all when the Masked Man appears to him.

If the Masked Man can represent that which is in our self that we are unsure of, the play suddenly takes on a much deeper meaning. Think of each character (even the adults) in the play having been at a cross-roads and needing a masked figure to help them through. We can immediately tell which ones found their help and which ones still life in fear.

In a way the Masked Man is like a guardian angel. But he is much more personal as he is a part of us. He is not an external force acting on our behalf, but rather part of us that we must dig down deep to find and trust absolutely.

Happy Birthday: Christopher Fry (b. 1907) Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), Ossie Davis (b. 1917), & Abe Burrows (1910-1985)

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