Study Guide

Birdman Love

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Did you make it through Birdman and still have no idea what people talk about when they talk about love? Yeah, us too.

Love seems like it would be a good thing to talk about when talking about love, but love is also a big, scary word that people don't like using too much. Plus, it's just so hard to define.

In the play, the characters argue about whether Ed's violent love is really love, whether love is absolute, what it means to not be able to physically see the person you love, and no one can seem to agree on what love is or how it manifests itself in people's thoughts and actions.

So instead of talking directly about love, we can talk about things like infidelity-induced drownings gone wrong, or we can mistake love for other things like praise and admiration. Unlike Carver's short story, Birdman never directly asks us what love is, but it sure provides a lot of examples that make us ask ourselves that very question.

Questions About Love

  1. Sylvia doesn't think love and admiration have to go together, so what's the difference between the two?
  2. How about love and respect? Can they be mutually exclusive as well?
  3. Does Riggan love Sylvia? What does throwing a knife at them have to do with love?

Chew on This

Ed couldn't have loved Terri. If he did he never would have beaten her that one night and dragged her around the room by her ankles. This violence is incompatible with love.

Love isn't an absolute; it takes many forms, some more violent than others. Ed may have been crazy but his feelings for Terri were real, even if he was unable to consider how much his love was hurting her.

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