The Lower Depths
(На дне) is perhaps Maxim Gorky
's best-known play. It was written during the winter of 1901 and the spring of 1902. Subtitled "Scenes from Russian Life," it depicted a group of lower-class Russians in a lodging house in Volga. Produced by the Moscow Arts Theatre
on December 18
, 1902, Konstantin Stanislavski
directed and starred. It became his first major success, and a hallmark of Russian socialist realism
When it first appeared, The Lower Depths was criticized for its pessimism and ambiguous ethical message. The presentation of the lower classes was viewed as overly dark and unredemptive, and Gorky was clearly more interested in creating memorable characters than in advancing a formal plot. However, in this respect, the play is generally regarded as a masterwork.
The theme of harsh truth versus the comforting lie pervades the play from start to finish, as most of the characters choose to deceive themselves from the bleak reality of their condition.
Pop Culture References
The afghan dog in the pound scene of Lady and the Tramp
mentions The Lower Depths when giving advice to Lady.