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Amadeus by Peter Shaffer

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‘Amadeus’ written by Peter Shaffer has presented a good question. Is there a hero in the play or not, and if so who is it? The people that it could be are God, Salieri and Mozart. They all have their reasons for being the hero, but I’m going to see if I can find who the hero is meant to be, if any. God isn’t mentioned much in the play, but he is an important part of it. Mozart is only seen and explained through Salieri’s eyes, meaning that the account given by Salieri could be biased. This also means that Salieri would only mention what he wants.

Firstly we should establish what the word hero means. To be a hero you normally need certain characteristics, like having courage, or to be admired by your outstanding achievements. At this moment I would say that Mozart is the hero, because he possesses the outstanding musical achievements. This isn’t enough evidence however to say Mozart is the hero. If there is a hero, there must also be a villain.

The reason for God being the hero is because God also possesses the outstanding achievement of being God itself. According to Salieri, God tried to express himself through Mozart as an, ‘incarnation’. “When I return I’ll tell you about the war I fought with God through his preferred Creature – Mozart, named Amadeus.”

“And my only reward – my sublime privilege -is to be the sole man alive in this time who shall clearly recognise your Incarnation!”

This shows that Salieri believed that the music was God’s, but he couldn’t understand why God had chosen Mozart as his incarnation. I think that if we were to say that God is the hero, then we would have to say that Mozart is also the hero, as they are the same person.

Reasons for saying that Salieri is the hero are that in the end he survives. Normally if there is a hero they always survive, or end up victorious. As Salieri survives, and Mozart dies then it is possible to say that Salieri is the hero, but the counter argument is that Mozart may have died, but he has become famous through his music, and Salieri hasn’t.

Firstly we should talk about the good and bad deeds that Salieri did. At the beginning he joins a committee to help the poor, and he seems like a character with noble ambitions, which is in contention for being the hero of the book. This changes however halfway through the book when he makes God his enemy.

“You are the Enemy! I name Thee now -Nemico Eterno! And this I swear. To my last breath I shall block you on earth as far as I am able!”

The only way that he thought he could get through to God was through his ‘incarnation’, Mozart. Salieri suddenly becomes evil, he leaves the committee to help the poor, and he tries to make life hell for Mozart by pretending to be kind to him, but behind the scenes he is tormenting him. Salieri does three things in the play to try to stop Mozart’s career, and three things to terrorise him.

For example he recommends some amateur to train the Queen, instead of Mozart, to end his career. “Majesty, I cannot with a clear conscience recommend Mozart to teach Royalty. One hears too many stories”. And he tormented Mozart by turning up at his house in a grey cloak, pretending to be his dad, and telling him that God doesn’t love him. ” God does not love you, Amadeus! God does not love you! He can only use!” From this evidence we could say that Salieri can’t be the hero, as he has done evil deeds.

The reason why I haven’t said that Mozart could be the hero is because he is just the incarnation of God, so the competition is between only Salieri and God. At the end of the book before Mozart dies, Salieri says,

“I will be remembered – if not in fame, then infamy.” He then goes on to say, “By tonight they’ll hear out there, how I died – and they’ll believe it’s true!”

What he is trying to say is that when he kills Mozart people will remember him for that when they find the confession and them both dead. In the end however even though Salieri tries to kill himself he fails, meaning that he didn’t become famous for killing Mozart. No one believed him, so he failed, and therefore surely can’t be the hero.

I still don’t think that God can be the hero, because his “incarnation” dies. This leaves me to say that the book doesn’t really have a hero, but if you were to talk about the play nowadays most people will say that Mozart, therefore God, are the heroes because they have become famous. As the book is written through Salieri’s eyes, he isn’t going to admit if the hero is Mozart, or God, so the answer to the title would have to be there is no hero in the play according to my opinion.

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