Ayn Rand called Monna Vanna “one of the greatest plays in all world literature.” Leonard Peikoff’s analysis includes such issues as: the relation of Monna Vanna’s plot-theme to that of Rand’s We the Living; the four crucial decisions that make up the progression of the play’s story; the play’s benevolent-universe theme, and Maeterlinck’s masterful twist in concretizing it; and the personal connection between Maeterlinck and Ayn Rand. Peikoff concludes with some stylistic observations on Maeterlinck, particularly his brilliant flair for drama and lines with a double meaning, and an anecdote about attempts to have Monna Vanna made as a movie.

Spoiler alert: The lesson assumes students have read the play.

Recommended translation: Monna Vanna: A Play in Three Acts, trans. Alexis Irénée Du Pont Coleman. Second Renaissance Press, 1993.