“The visit of the old lady” Durenmatt in short summary

“The visit of the old lady” Durenmatt in short summary

The action takes place in the provincial Swiss town of Güllen in the 50’s. XX century. In the town comes the old multimillionaire Clara Tsakhanassyan, a nee Vesher, a former resident of Gullen. At one time several industrial enterprises worked in the town, but one by one they went bankrupt, and the town came to complete desolation, and its inhabitants became impoverished. The inhabitants of Gullen have high hopes for Clara’s arrival. They expect that she will leave her hometown several million for his renewal. “Treat” the guest, wake up in her nostalgia for the old days she spent in Gullen, the city dwellers trust the sixty-year-old grocer Ille, whom Clara had in his youth had an affair with.

To get off in a city where trains rarely stop, Clara breaks the

stopcock and appears before the residents, surrounded by a whole suite of her attendants, consisting of her seventh husband, butler, two bullies who chew chewing gum and carrying her palanquin, maids and two blind Kobe and Lobi. She has no left leg, which she lost in a car accident, and the right hand lost in a plane crash. Both these parts of the body are replaced by first-class prostheses. It is followed by luggage, consisting of a huge number of suitcases, cages with a black leopard and a coffin. Clara shows interest in the policeman, wondering if he can close his eyes to what is happening in the city, and the priest, asking him if he lets go of his sins sentenced to death. To his reply that the death penalty has been abolished in the country, Clara expresses the opinion that her, probably,

Clara decides together with Ill to bypass all those places where once passion was raging: Peter’s barn, Konradov forest. Here they kissed and loved each other, and then Ill married Matilde Blumhard, more precisely, at her dairy shop, and Clara married Tsakhanassyan, for his billions. He found her in a Hamburg brothel. Clara is smoking. Ill dreams of the return of long-past days and asks Clara to help her native city financially, which she promises to do.

They return from the forest to the city. At a festive dinner hosted by the

mayor, Clara announces that he will give Gullen a billion: five hundred million to the city and five hundred million will split equally among all the inhabitants, but on one condition – provided that justice is done.

She asks her butler to step forward, and the residents will recognize him as District Judge Hofer, who was a judge of the city of Gullen forty-five years ago. He reminds them of the trial that took place in those days, Clara Vesher, as Ms. Tsakhanassyian was called before her marriage, was expecting the child from Ill. However, he brought to court two perjurers who per liter of vodka showed that they also slept with Clara, so the father of Clara’s expected child is not necessarily Illa. Clara was kicked out of the city, she was sent to a brothel, and the child, the girl, who was born with her, died one year after birth in the hands of strangers, in an orphanage, to which, according to the law, she was placed.

Then Clara vowed that she would return someday to Gullen and take revenge for herself. Having made herself rich, she ordered to find those perjurers who, they said, were her lovers, and ordered her thugs to scrape and blind them. Since then, they live next to her.

Clara demands that justice finally come true. She promises that the city will get a billion if someone kills Ill. The mayor with dignity on behalf of all the townspeople declares that the inhabitants of Güllen are Christians and in the name of humanism reject her proposal. Better to be poor than executioners. Clara says that she is ready to wait.

In the hotel “Golden Apostle” in a separate room is brought Clara coffin. Her bullies daily wear from the station to the hotel more and more funeral wreaths and bouquets.

In the store Illa comes two women and ask them to sell them milk, butter, white bread and chocolate. They never allowed themselves such luxuries. And they want to get all this on credit. The following buyers ask to give them cognac and the best tobacco, and also on credit. Ill begins to see clearly and, terribly worried, asks what they are going to pay.

Meanwhile, from the cell of Clara, who has already succeeded in changing her seventh husband to the eighth, a movie actor, a black leopard escapes. I must say that when she was young, she also called her “her black leopard”. All residents of Gülen take precautions and walk around the city with weapons. The atmosphere in the city is heating up. Ill feels thrown into a corner. He goes to the policeman, to the burgomaster, to the priest and asks them to protect him, and to arrest Clara Tsakhanassyan for inciting murder. All three advise him not to take what happened to heart, for none of the residents accepted the billionaire’s offer seriously and is not going to kill him. Ill, however, notices that the policeman also has new shoes, and a gold tooth in his mouth. The burgomaster flaunts himself in a new tie. Further – more: the townspeople begin to buy their own washing machines, televisions, cars. Ill feels where things are going, and wants to leave on the train. To the station he is seen off by a crowd with the kind of benevolent townspeople. Ill, however, never dares to enter the train, because he is afraid that, as soon as he is in the car, one of them will immediately grab him. The Black Leopard is finally being shot.

Clara receives a city doctor and a school teacher. They tell her that the city is in a critical situation, since their fellow citizens have bought themselves too much, and now the hour of reckoning has come. They ask for loans to them to resume the activities of the city’s enterprises. They suggest that they buy them, develop iron ore deposits in the Conrad forest, and extract oil in the Pukenrid valley. It is better to invest millions in a businesslike way at interest, than to throw a whole billion to the wind. Clara reports that the city has already belonged to her for a long time. She only wants to avenge that red-haired girl who was shaking from the cold when the residents drove her from the city and laughed after her.

The townspeople, meanwhile, have fun at Clara’s weddings, which she arranges one after another, alternating them with divorce proceedings. They are becoming more and more prosperous and elegant appearance. Public opinion is not in favor of Ill. The burgomaster talks with Ill and asks him, as a decent person, to commit suicide with his own hands and remove the sin from the townspeople. Ill refuses to do this. However, with the inevitability of his fate, he seems to have almost reconciled. At the meeting of the city community, the townspeople unanimously decide to end Ill.

Before the meeting Ill talks with Clara, who confesses that she still loves him, but this love, like herself, has become a petrified monster. She is going to take his body to the shore of the Mediterranean, where she has an estate, and put it in a mausoleum. That evening, after the meeting, the men surround Ill and deprive him of life, assuring that they do this only in the name of the triumph of justice, and not out of self-interest. Clara writes a check to the burgomaster and leaves Güllen under the admiringly laudatory exclamations of the townspeople, where the pipes of the plant are already smoking, the new houses are being built, the life is boiling everywhere.


“The visit of the old lady” Durenmatt in short summary