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Death Knocks by Woody Allen

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on

December 1, 1935

American film director, screenwriter,

actor and playwright.

Two of his most famous films, 'Annie

Hall' and 'Manhattan

Also famous for writing comedy with a

touch of slapstick.

Death Knock is a short play, comedy

written by him.

Hes been awarded for his works and

his writing.
Khanh-Nguyen Do


Death Knocks is a play about fooling death and putting it off. Allen trying to come to
terms with understanding what death is.

Woody Allen believes that life is synonymous with death and suffering.

Showing the thin line between life and death, and people who are afraid to die.

Death claims there is a specific Death for each person and that it resembles them.
Death comes for Nat because its his time to go. However, Nat refuses to believe him and
plays Death in a game of Gin Rummy for an extra twenty-four hours to live and some
extra money. Death loses.
Nat does not die.

Khanh-Nguyen Do

Woody Allen Quotes

I am not afraid of death, I just don't
want to be there when it happens.
Woody Allen
I don't want to achieve immortality
through my work. I want to
achieve it through not dying.
On the plus side, death is one of the
few things that can be done as
easily lying down . Woody Allen

La Wanda


The play takes place in Nat Ackermans bedroom of his two-story house in Kew Garden
somewhere in New York. The room contains a big double bed and large vanity.

The room is carpeted from wall- to-wall.

The room is elaborately furnished and curtained, and on one walls there are several
His house is luxurious and decorated.

Nat is wearing a bathrobe and slippers.

Nat is lying in bed with a white headboard around midnight reading the Daily newspaper
by a small light that is clipped to the headboard.

The intruder Death enters by climbing in [through] the window.


According to Allen, many of his characters are obsessed with death. In Annie Hall
(1977) to Boris in Whatever Works the characters are obsessed with abstract
considerations about the anguish of living and the terrors of death ( Lee 61). Death is rarely
far from Allens thoughts or images (Blake 69).
In What Ever Works and Death Knocks Allen puts himself into his characters, especially
seeing what he says about life and death.
There are only two characters:

Nat Ackerman the protagonist, the man who defies death for the time being.
Is described as a bald, paunchy, fifty-seven year old manufacturer. Hes wearing a
bathrobe and slippers.

Death, the antagonist, the goofy character who's not very good at his job.
is middle-aged and stark white and similar to Nat in appearance. Hes wearing a black
hood and skin tight clothes with the hood covering his head but not his face.

The play Death Knocks is a play about fooling death and putting it off.
The short play symbolizes Woody Allens refusal to come to terms with
death, shrugging it off and not coming to terms with it. It also shows Allen
trying to come to terms with understanding what death is.

Character: Death
In Death Knocks, Death is known as the Grim Reaper.
Death seems to be klutz from his actions throughout the
play as he tries to take Nat back home with him.
Death climbed up drainpipe, enter through the window
and falls off. Its interesting to visualize someone who
symbolizes death and falls like a death.
Death has human-like qualities.
Death is simply like you and me.


Character: Nat
Nat was a 57-year old dressmaker. Who Comes off as a bit of a
person, but he surprises the readers by being so comfortable around
Phrases such as "Don't 'but' me", "Listen Mister, it's very late",
"That's too
bad for you. You should pay attention" shows that Nat does not see
death as
others would, with fear.
Nat tricked Death into playing and ended up the victor.
Audience will see during performance how Nat was going to get his
even before they started playing the game.

Rising Action
It was midnight and unknown death enters
Nats house wearing a hood but not his face
From this we can say that Nat was so
comfortable around the death .
During the performance people will come to
know how Nat was being not good to death.


Nat wins,
Death loses.


Falling Action

nearly falls on his way out, Nat

proclaims Death is "hes such a
schlep" .
In this portrayal of Death, Allen
provides a satiric character we can
laugh at despite his serious nature
and intent.
In resolution part Death has no
where to stay and wandering
around looking for a hotel and


Critical Reviews
Woody Allen is best known as a filmmaker, for which he provides his own
screenplays. He has written extensively for the theater and television, has
supplied stand-up comedians (including himself) with original jokes, and has
published numerous comic essays (Smolensky & Francavilla)...(Amanpreet)
Woody Allen is a man who thinks he is an existentialist, trying to see the big
Woody Allen provides an example to fraternization with death in his short play
entitled Death Knocks. Here Death is no longer the grim reaper we have heard
so much about but instead an awkward bumbling entity (Klein, Allen)...(Sijia)

Point of View

For readers like me, comedy really gets me into the book because the
only way to understand what you read is if you enjoy it(Amanpreet)

The great thing about acting is, you can get in and out of character.
But, just like life, death is inevitable( LaWanda )

Death is feared; however, when you have strong and powerful inner
world, defeating death is just like a game. (Sijia Liu)

When you read drama it's not only that you get to hear what's going on
it's more like actions and that's what makes its better.(NL)


Death Knocks, you get a sense of

Woody Allen and how he puts himself
into his characters, especially seeing
what he says about life and death.
Woody Allen wanted to send a
message that people need to enjoy
their life and face the bad things with an
optimistic attitude.
He gave us a great drama and people
reduce the fear of death by his unique
Thank you !!


Works Cited
Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen. Literature The Human Experience.
11th ed. Vol. 12 Boston : Bedford, 2016. Web.
All Answers Ltd, ed. Woody Allen On life And Death English Literature Essay. UKessays.
Uk Essay All Answers Ltd, 23 Mar.2015.Web. 12 Apr.2006.
Klein,Allen. "Humor & Death." Context Institute. Context Institute, 16 Sept. 2011. Web. 13
May 2016.
Smolensky, Ira and Francavilla, Joseph. "Woody Allen." Critical Survey of Short Fiction:
American Writers. Ed. Charles E. May. Hackensack: Salem, 2012. n. Salem Online.
Web. 09 May. 2016.
Woody Allen Quotes. Brainy Quotes. Xplore, n.d Web. 13. May 2016.



Khanh-Nguyen Do




Sijia Liu

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