A report on the play "Incident at Vichy" by Arthur Miller.

Essay by Alski409High School, 10th gradeA+, October 2003

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Incident at Vichy, by Arthur Miller, takes place in 1942 France. The play consists of dialogue between the characters, eight men and a boy, while they await an unknown fate in the detention room of a Vichy police station. Not only does the play tell of the horrors of the Holocaust through rumors that the men exchange, but it also deals with major themes of guilt, self-sacrifice, and honor. Through characters with different beliefs, attitudes, and ways of life, the play draws significant conclusions on the topic of individualism.

The need to protect oneself is a very strong, reoccurring theme, and the characters all have different coping mechanisms. Many of the characters seem very self-centered, save for the boy none of them mention family or friends. Marchand thinks of himself as an important businessman, having no time for any of the other men, and perhaps it is his confidence that convinces the Germans that he is not inferior to them.

Lebeau, who lived isolated in the country, is very fearful for his life, and that fear is channeled into both aggression and denial as he tries to rationalize his situation by putting down the others (for example, by comparing his nose to the gentile, Prince Von Berg). The waiter attempts resistance as he is brought into the back room but is quickly subdued. Monceau, who believes he can use his talent of acting to put on a show of confidence, is in denial of what awaits him and thus protecting himself. Bayard seems to live in the future, when workers are in control, and views himself as a part of history more than as an individual; he has separated his spirit from his body. Leduc is the most realistic; he sees the danger he is in and attempts...