Man and Superman is a massive drama full of both light comedy and deep philosophy, based on Nietzsche's theory of the Abermensch, or superman. Acts I, II, and IV play as romantic comedy with a bite. Ann Whitefield relentlessly pursues dedicated bachelor Jack Tanner, not giving up until he agrees to marry her. No one really likes Ann, least of all Tanner; she is a selfish bully. But, she is imbued with the Life Force, making her charmingly irresistible. By contrast, the third act of the play is set in Hell, and the lead characters take on roles from Mozart's Don Giovanni. There, they engage in a long philosophical discussion about the eternal conflicts between men and women and Heaven and Hell. This third act provides a philosophical context within which to understand the other three acts, giving the comedy and romance of acts I, II, and IV a deeper meaning. In performance, however, Act III is almost always excised. Act III has also been performed separately, as a one-act entitled, Don Juan in Hell.
Man and Superman guide sections