Term Paper: Real Inspector Hound Tom Stoppard

Pages: 4 (1463 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Plays  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] In The Real Inspector Hound it is not the actors that are slaughtered by their underappreciated understudies, but rather the critics who are killed off. By referring to the role of the critic as being one of power, Moon not only comments on the impact the critic can potentially have, but also on the necessity for revolution in terms of theatre as an art form. The critic's livelihood is dependent on artistic revolution and innovation. If a critic is only critiquing the same element or genre, then their input becomes moot and they outlive their purpose as they have lost any power they may have had when their critiques actually influenced people.

A critic not only has the power to influence people to attend or avoid a theatre production, but also the critic's power also lies in how he or she influences the theatre. In The Real Inspector Hound, Birdboot is having an adulterous affair with the actress who plays Felicity in the play. In his defense, Birdboot contends, "My wife Myrtle understands perfectly well that a man of my critical standing is obliged occasionally to mingle with the world of the foot lights, simply by way of keeping au fait with the latest," that is to say, that in order to understand and keep up with the ever-changing world of theatre, a person needs to be actively involved in it (10). If a critic is not up-to-date with what is going on in the realm of theatre, it is difficult for him or her to impact either the audience or potential theatre-goer, or to make an impact on the world of theatre. Birdboot also asserts that it is necessary to maintain a certain level of integrity (even if he engages in illicit behavior himself) and is offended when Moon insinuates Birdboot uses his position of power to influence the realm of theatre and promote any actress that is willing to trade (sexual) favors. Birdboot exclaims, "[To] suggest that my good opinion in a journal of unimpeachable integrity is at the disposal of the first coquette who gives me what I want" is considered to be more of an insult than a statement of truth, despite the fact that it is not intended to question his integrity as a critic, but rather his integrity as a man.

Through The Real Inspector Hound, Stoppard provides commentary on the thin line that divides critics from actors by highlighting how the theatre becomes irrevocably changed when critics interfere with a production. For instance, when Moon crosses the play's fourth wall and jumps into the action in medias res, he not only disrupts the action on stage, but also breaks down the wall between critic and actor and becomes part of a world he is merely charged with observing. By breaking the rules of theatre and becoming actively engaged in the action, Moon can no longer provide an unbiased opinion on the play and thus outlives his purpose. His objectivity is removed and as such, so must he be from his position. While the theatre and critic are interdependent on each other for survival, the theatre cannot serve to criticize its audience and can only provide them with a mirror into who they are. Likewise, a critic cannot become part of the theatre without losing his or her reputation; the critic has to remain constantly separated from the action while attempting to remain informed about the artists, themes, and artistic movements that are constantly in flux.

Through Moon's and Birdboot's monologues, Stoppard investigates the role of the critic and demonstrates how critics are constantly fighting to survive within their own industry and how the theatre is dependent on critics to not only influence audiences, but also to secure employment within the industry. In a way, critics are the people who have the most control in the world of theatre and as such, they are constantly in danger as other critics actively fight to be the most respected and influential critic, the one who holds all the power, and the one who gets all the "perks."

Works Cited

Stoppard, Tom. The Real Inspector Hound. Scribd. Web. 14 December 2012,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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