Identity In Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound

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Contemporary English playwright Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound (1968) not only stands as a successor to Restoration playwright Richard Sheridan’s The Critic (1781) but does so without appearing as a mere doppelgänger and, instead, adds a new sense of depth with a critique of critics brought about by madness and facing one’s identity. The parallels drawn between the two plays do not mimic one another so much as present a multitude of ideas in a similar fashion. One of the major similarities between the two is that of the “hall of mirrors” effect. Within both plays, the frame play includes an interior play typically with actions and characters separate of the frame play: the traditional “play-within-a-play” motif. The aforementioned …show more content…
His identity as the play’s playwright is “revealed” by the editors, sparking an outburst from the man: DANGLE. ‘Efaith I would not have told—but it’s in the papers, and your name at length—in the Morning
PUFF. Ah! those damn’d editors never can keep a secret!
While this does not mark when the interior play overtakes the exterior (after all, to do so would ruin the “hall of mirrors” effect), it does mark Puff’s possible undoing. The question arises of who would’ve told the editors of the Morning Chronicle that Puff was playwright if not for Puff himself. One could argue that it was the actors who exposed Puff, but there is no logical reasoning in doing this. If this is the case, then perhaps Puff’s mind is slipping from him and the fictional world of the Spanish Armada is beginning to overtake the real world for him. Act II, Scene I once more observes such madness when Puff treats many of the scenes in the play as though they are actually happening: SNEER. What in the plague, is he going to pray? PUFF. Yes, hush!—in great emergencies, there is nothing like a
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The interior play focuses on the characters Simon, Mrs. Drudge, Magnus, Felicity, Cynthia, Inspector Hound, and an unnamed dead body. During the opening act of the interior play, Birdboot dreams of making it with Cynthia and Felicity (or, rather, the actresses who play them) while Moon dreams of killing his higher-up Higgs before questioning whether another critic, Puckerridge, dreams of killing him. Such ideas allude to later events that happen in the interior play, only blurring the lines of when the interior play overtakes the frame

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