Shaffer portrays Salieri’s response to Mozart and his music in a way that helps the audience understand and sympathize with his state of mind Essay

In the library and March of Welcome scenes, Salieri is put in very awkward situations, physically and emotionally. In both scenes, this is due to Mozart being himself, which is what Salieri despises the most, and makes this all the more tragic. The emotions he feels are at their peak at the end of the scenes, and the way the stage directions are written, and how Salieri is speaking allow the audience to capture his emotions and somehow sympathize with the man who also believes he struck a deal with a deity.

We first encounter Salieri’s emotions for Mozart at the end of the Library scene; the aria that is being played has a significant effect on him. Piercing me through till breath could hold it…….. the squeeze box groaned louder” brings the attention to pain Salieri is trying to cope with whilst at the hands of this merciless adversary Mozart. The word piercing brings to mind an idea of stabbing, murder, death which heavily influences a sense of concern for Salieri as he is having his hopes destroyed.

However, the conflict runs deeper than that, he knows the music itself is beautiful, and he also knows he can understand it better than anyone can, possibly even greater than Mozart himself. The fact that he knows that his music is infinitely better than anything he could ever produce, which brings up a feeling of hatred and anger towards Mozart, conflicts with the knowledge that he knows what he is hearing is a masterpiece.

This feeling here is shown in the stage directions, where it says “small houses under a rent sky” The division in the sky portrays the division in Salieri’s feelings, but it could also show the bond broken between Salieri and God. Salieri believed that he had made a bargain with God, and so, when he hears music in which he could not dream of composing, he is filled with feelings of betrayal from God, which we know is foolish, but it allows us to pity Salieri. This idea is reinforced earlier in the scene, where Salieri asks “‘What is this… What? But the squeezebox went on and the pain cut deeper into my shaking head” This could show that God is punishing Salieri, because he thought he could bargain with him.

The room itself also shows Salieri’s emotions, and allows us to tap into them. These questions continue when he questions God himself “It it Your need, can it be Yours? ” When this is said, it brings up feelings of empathy here, because we can see that in an instant, this man has been torn of everything he held dear to him, and we know these questions cannot be answered, but he cannot help but not say them. The light flickered in the room” could signify the fact that Mozart’s music is so powerful it is changing Salieri’s perception on reality at this time, showing deep psychological damage. But it could also mean that there is a ‘wind of change’ in the form of Mozart being shown as the better composer. However, it could also symbolize Salieri’s hope for the future being hampered, and even coming close to being extinguished. The way that Salieri is speaking in this scene shows his emotion to the audience very noticeably. There is a lot of enjambment, which shows Salieri’s continuous flow and unceasing variations of emotions.

It shows us that he is feeling intense pleasure and intense pain at the same time, which is causing all of his confusion. In the Library scene, we see Mozart once again being himself, which is the one thing Salieri cannot handle. He cannot imagine that such a crude character can create such beautiful music. But it seems that Mozart doesn’t realize how crude and tactless he really is. We first see this when he regards Salieri’s March of Welcome as a “jolly little thing”. This sounds incredibly patronizing, and we know that Salieri is finding it hard to keep his cool.

When Mozart begins to play, and changing the song until it is something beautiful, we know Salieri is so much conflict in what he should believe. The song Mozart makes turns out to be The Marriage of Figaro, which is key. The idea of marriage in this scene brings up many ideas, such as Salieri sees Mozart and himself in competition all the time, and that, like a marriage, his life has now changed completely that Mozart has entered it. It also shows an internal conflict, that Salieri knows that he loves Mozart’s music, but he hates Mozart himself.

Furthermore, it could show the possible loss of Katherina to Mozart, which just adds to the list of things Mozart has taken away from Salieri, and makes Salieri hate him even more, and makes the audience sympathize with him more. All through this, Salieri has “an answering smile painted on his face” which shows that Salieri knows he cannot show his true emotions to Mozart, for that would be insulting a much greater musician than himself, no matter how much it pains him to say that, but also because he would most likely be expelled from the court if they heard he had said how much he despised Mozart.

After Mozart has finished playing, he “marches happily off stage” which just adds more hatred to Salieri, as he believes Mozart is mocking him, where in reality Mozart is oblivious to the internal damage he is causing Salieri. The way the stage directions at the end of this scene are written is similar to how Salieri speaks in the Library scene, full of enjambment. This shows the building tension in Salieri as well as the building joy in Mozart, this contrast of emotion is interesting, as it shows how oblivious Mozart is to Salieri’s pain, and makes the audience even more sympathetic.

Overall, an extensive use of authorial techniques Shaffer uses makes the reader sympathize with Salieri in various ways, sometimes the audience is inclined to feel pity, sometimes empathy, but it also puts feelings towards Mozart, usually annoyance and anger. These emotions that the audience feel are important, because it helps the audience relate to the characters more, and make the whole production a much fuller experience.