52 pages 1 hour read

Dario Fo

Accidental Death Of An Anarchist

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1970

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Symbols & Motifs


In Accidental Death of an Anarchist, the police function as both characters and symbols. Symbolically, the police are a narrative stand-in for the people and institutions in power, illustrating many of the themes Fo explores in the play. The police are corrupt, taking every opportunity to maintain and extend their reach, just like the capitalists, politicians, and government officials the play critiques. It becomes clear, early on, that the police are caricatures, especially The Chief. Lacking even a proper name, he is referred to as The Chief throughout the play, rendering him more a symbol of leaders in a corrupt society than a person. The Chief is solely focused on covering up his involvement in the anarchist’s death and maintaining his control over his subordinates, suspects, and The Reporter. He goes so far as to threaten The Reporter in an attempt to make sure she writes what he wants her to. Fo uses The Chief as a proxy for corrupt officials, to illustrate how powerful people and institutions manipulate the truth to stay in control.

The Captain is an archetypal “yes-man.” He enables The Chief, looking for any means to explain, excuse, and even assist him in his increasingly corrupt actions, instead of standing in his way.