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Amadeus: Influential Values Essay, Research Paper
Peter Shaffer?s Amadeus presents to the reader many human values. The most prominent being envy, deceit and self-sacrifice. During the course of the play these features are displayed through Salieri?s actions, emotions and dialogue.
The relationship between Salieri and Mozart is like a painting, commencing with splattered envy after Mozart?s extordinary musical talents disrupt Salieri?s clean, white, sanity. Splatters become blotches when Mozart uses Salieri?s ?prize pupil? (33), Katherina Cavalieri, to fulfill his professional and sexual aspirations. Covered in thick, black envy, Salieri seeks lust to better himself than his opponent: ?As I watched her walk away on the arm of the creature, I felt the lightning thought strike ? ?Have her! Her for Katherina? ? Abomination! ? Never in my life had I entertained a notion so sinful!? (39). The paper then turns black as Salieri?s ?wanted fame? (16) is enveloped by Mozart?s egotistical and immature personality. As a piece of recycled paper, Salieri begins his murder ?at least not in life. In Art it was a different matter? (35).
The buildup of Salieri?s destructible envy is used to sculpt his evil character and ultimately lead to his master plans of deceit. But not all of Salieri?s deceit is put together into one action, it is portrayed through several evil schemes that end up composing the murder of Mozart. Salieri treats Mozart as a friendly individual from the start and even compliments about how his music ?at its best is truly charming? (37) and what a ?remarkable memory? (34) he has. This only tricks Mozart and allows for Salieri to proceed with his first step of deceit, sleeping with his lovely wife, Constanze. Although he never does in fact sleep with her, the mere fact that he had broken his vow of sexual virtue triggers his lust for deceit even more.
Salieri trying to interfere with Mozart?s opera, The Marriage of Figaro displays his second step of deceit. Upon hearing that Mozart?s new opera contained ballet, which is verboten in the Emperor?s operas, he wickedly conveys this information to his colleagues and attempts to destroy his opera. Although Mozart is distressed when approached by this fact, he still manages to work through his deceit and is able to achieve the emperor?s consent of the dance after being harassed and mentally walloped on from Salieri and his colleagues. Mozart accuses Salieri at the beginning of this uproar but is then altered after hearing this following quote from Salieri displaying his feign concern for the stressed fellow: ?Mozart, permit me. If you wish, I will speak to the Emperor myself. Ask him to attend a rehearsal? (70).
Salieri?s third step of deceit is illustrated by having the Baron attend a small opera hosted by Mozart that mocks modern day opera themes. This of course enrages the Baron and causes Mozart to be shunned by all men of influence and leads him deeper into depression. Salieri ?had of course suggested it? (92), for the Baron to come but keeps his amity with Mozart by expressing that ?all is not lost? (93).
The final step of deceit is exhibited by way of Salieri appearing ?to the demented creature as ? the Messenger of God!? (94) And scaring him to death by forcing him to write his own requiem. With Mozart at his weakest state, Salieri attacks him face to face: ?Ten years of my hate have poisoned you to death? (96), which causes Mozart to die shortly after. After his deed his done, Salieri speaks in victory: ?Reduce the man: reduce the God. Behold my vow fulfilled. The profoundest voice in the world reduced to a nursery tune? (97).
Salieri lost in his own mind of hate and envy sacrifices himself to rid god of the world. Salieri begins by blaming Mozart for all of his problems but later turns on god: ?From this time we are enemies, You and I! I?ll not accept it from You ? Do you hear? ? They say god is not mocked. I tell you, Man is not mocked! I am not mocked! [?]. You are the Enemy! I name Thee now ? Nemico Eterno!? (56). At this point, Salieri begins breaking his vows to god, which ultimately is the collapsing of himself: ?So much for my vow of sexual virtue. The same evening I went to the Palace and resigned from all my committees to help the lot of poor musicians. So much for my vow of social virtue? (60). Self-sacrifice is clearly demonstrated throughout the course of Salieri?s identification ordeal and is the main theme that promotes the conflict between Mozart and Salieri. Lost in his own enigma, Salieri projects a clear look at the downfall of his sacrifice upon Mozart: ?He sat at home preparing his own destruction. A home where life grew daily more grim? (86).
The three primary human values in this play, envy, deceit and self-sacrifice are the clay of the story. Salieri takes this clay and uses it as a weapon to destroy Mozart in several different ways. This is clearly shown through his lies, passive-aggressive attacks and cunning tricks that slowly deteriorate Mozart?s small barrier of protection and lead to his death. After Mozart was deceased, the clay did not disintegrate as expected, but instead it expanded and clung to Salieri with such force that it ended up killing him as well, rather than molding him in to a better being.
Shaffer, Peter. Amadeus. London: Penguin Books, 1993.
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