Summary “Visit to a Small Planet” Play by Gore Vidal


Gore Vidal wrote the humorous play “Visit to a Small Planet”. The protagonist of the tale is an asteroid named Kreton who visits Earth—more especially, the United States—in order to study human behavior. When Kreton shows around, everything go haywire because of his incredible abilities, which include reality manipulation and mind reading. The drama examines issues of society conventions, human nature, and the absurdity of life. Vidal uses satire and comedy to remark on the peculiarities of human conduct. He does this by highlighting the peculiarities and shortcomings of the human race from the viewpoint of an alien visitor. The play offers a lighthearted yet insightful examination of the human condition and the perspectives that an outsider would have on our worldctitical appreciation of the play visit to a small planeyt
American dramatist Gore Vidal is the author of “A Visit to a Small Planet.” It’s a serious comedy. Adventure, suspense, and commentary on contemporary society are all present. The main character is a mysterious being from another world named Kreton. His remarks on civilization on Earth are extremely important. A highly respected television programmer is Roger Spelding. He contributes significantly to the main character’s projection as well. The play’s tension is increased by General Powers’s involvement. The scene is only in America. General Powers and Roger Spelding represent the conceit and haughtiness of the United States. They have preconceived ideas. They desire to view the world as they perceive it. They reject all other forces that exist in the cosmos. When people come across a novel and difficult circumstance, they become vulnerable. General Powers and Roger Spelding are both afflicted with the self-projection sickness. Spelding, like most Americans, worships wealth and position. He opposes her daughter getting married to a typical farmer. All of this establishes the play’s setting. But when the spacecraft appears, that’s when the real action begins. Many theories have been made about it, all of which come to an end when the spaceship arrives in Spelding’s yard and the enigmatic figure appears there. Kreton is his name. He begins by ironically remarking that his new location is far nicer than he had anticipated. The concept of nations makes him chuckle as well. All he does is identify himself as a Universe citizen. He takes issue with the rulers’ dictatorial mindset. Additionally, he disagrees with the notion of media suppression. He believes that there is a great deal of mistrust and uncertainty in the world’s cultures.He now mocks the terrestrial creatures by claiming that human civilization is still in its early days. Kreton also makes fun of uniformed personnel. He holds these people accountable for international conflicts and warfare. He chuckles at their lack of intelligence as well. General Powers is informed by Kreton that he is too stupid to comprehend the mathematical concepts he wants to discuss. Additionally, he informs his visitors that the new innovations they are proud of are all quite ancient. Additionally, Kreton denigrates General Powers by claiming that Americans are unworthy adversaries. Why would he and his friends ever consider attacking them? Additionally, the visitor reveals how little they know. He demonstrates to them his superior expertise in comparison to the General and his guests. They can now know things that the radars cannot because of their abundance of information. When he is unable to assume command of the spacecraft, General Powers is demoralized. Nobody was able to approach it. Kreton eventually bid them farewell and departs for an undefined location.

Critical Appreciation of the Play

Gore Vidal’s satirical comedy “Visit to a Small Planet” offers a critical viewpoint on society and human nature by fusing humor with social commentary. The following are some essential components of a critical analysis of the play:
1. Social commentary and satire: Vidal parodies societal conventions, cultural beliefs, and a variety of facets of human conduct with humor. The play invites the audience to laugh at themselves and challenge accepted conventions by acting as a mirror reflecting the paradoxes and absurdities that exist in society.
2. Supernatural Perspective: The supernatural visitor Kreton is used as a cunning plot device to present an outsider’s perspective on humans. Vidal sheds light on the absurdity and triviality of some acts by offering Kreton’s findings as a basis for a novel and sometimes ridiculous viewpoint on commonplace human interactions.
3. Manipulation of Reality: The drama examines what happens when a character has the ability to change reality. Because of Kreton’s ability to read thoughts and change circumstances, the possible effects of unbridled power are explored in a lighthearted yet thought-provoking manner. This component gives the play’s indictment of human nature more depth.
4. Characterization: The play’s characters are well-developed and have distinct roles to play in furthering the story and themes. Vidal is able to make commentary on various aspects of society since each character represents a particular stereotype or archetype. The comedy and social satire of the play are enhanced by the interactions between the characters.
5. Wit and comedy: One of the play’s most prominent strengths is Vidal’s use of comedy. The overall humorous tone is enhanced by the smart wordplay and witty conversation. In addition to being enjoyable, the play’s comedy conveys its underlying societal critique.
6. Timeless quality and Relevance: Although the play was created in the 1950s, its themes and insights into human nature are still applicable today. Since satire is universal, audiences from all ages may relate to the play’s comedy and criticism, which guarantees that the play’s critique of society endures.
7. Cultural and Political Context: Taking into account the political and cultural climate of the play’s writing period might improve the critical understanding. “Visit to a Small Planet” could have components reflecting the socio-political milieu of the 1950s. Vidal, who is renowned for his incisive political criticism, frequently incorporates political overtones into his works.

To sum up, “Visit to a Small Planet” is a masterwork of satire that skillfully blends humor with social criticism. Its examination of society conventions, human nature, and the effects of unbridled authority makes for an insightful and thought-provoking work of dramatic fiction that never fails to make audiences laugh and think.


Kreton: An extraterrestrial visitor to Earth with the capacity to read minds and change reality. Kreton’s interest in human nature is what propels the play’s narrative.
Ellen Spelding: the mother of Reba and the one who hosted Kreton during his stay. The strange things that Kreton causes frequently make her nervous.
Roger Spelding, a TV news anchor and Reba’s stepfather. He is drawn to Kreton’s tale and attempts to share it with the public.
Conrad’s top officer, General Tom Powers. He views Kreton as a possible threat and has doubts about his ability.
Conrad’s Aide: A military aide who helps Conrad and adds comedic relief during the performance.

Plot Construction

The story of Gore Vidal’s “Visit to a Small Planet” centers on Kreton, a distant visitor to Earth, and the mayhem that results from his extraordinary powers. This is a basic synopsis of the story:
Act 1: Arrival and Introduction
1. Kreton’s introduction: Kreton is an extraterrestrial who came to Earth out of curiosity and has the capacity to read minds and change reality. He makes his appearance at the beginning of the play.
2. Kreton’s Arrival: The Spelding family is a suburban American household that welcomes Kreton. At first, the family is oblivious of Kreton’s extraterrestrial origins.
3. Reactions to Kreton: The family members respond to Kreton’s presence in diverse ways, especially Ellen Spelding and her daughter Reba. The things that Kenton does and says make things funny and ridiculous.
Act 2: Exposing Authority and Differenc
1. Disclosing Abilities: Kenton starts to demonstrate his remarkable abilities, including reality-altering and mind-reading. The family and other neighbors start to question Kreton’s talents more and more.
2. Conrad’s Engagement and Military Involvement: Reba’s fiancé, Conrad Mayberry, is drawn into the proceedings as a military commander. The military, under the command of General Tom Powers, get involved because they believe Kreton poses a threat.
3. Media Attention: Roger Spelding, a TV news anchor and Reba’s stepfather, seeks to broadcast Kreton’s tale after realizing it has the makings of a big story.
Act 3: Intensification and Settlement
1. Chaos and fighting: As the military attempts to contain Kreton and his abilities, there is an increase in fighting. Chaos and miscommunication are still being caused by Kenton’s activities.
2. Attempt at Abduction and Resolution: An altercation results from the military’s attempt to subdue Kreton. In contrast, however, Kreton chooses to depart Earth willingly after discovering the detrimental effects of his existence.
3. Closing Scenes: The drama ends with Kreton’s departure’s aftermath. As the characters consider the strange circumstances, there could be a resolution or a lesson about how ridiculous human conduct can be.
Gore Vidal makes commentary on human nature, social conventions, and the possible repercussions of unbridled power throughout the play by combining comedy, satire, and the magical aspects of Kreton’s skills. The story develops in a number of humorous and thought-provoking ways, which makes “Visit to a Small Planet” a distinctive and captivating theatrical production.


The unique style of Gore Vidal’s “Visit to a Small Planet” blends elements of satire, humor, and social critique. The following are significant facets of the play’s style:
1. Satire: Vidal uses satire to highlight the paradoxes and absurdities inherent in the human condition. The play is renowned for its sarcastic tone, which makes fun of and ridicules a variety of society conventions, cultural beliefs, and human conduct.
2. Absurdity: The play embraces fanciful and absurd elements, especially through the character of Kreton, an extraterrestrial possessing the ability to manipulate reality and read minds. Moreover, absurd dialogue and situations add to the humorous atmosphere by undermining conventional wisdom and emphasizing the irrationality of some actions.
3. Witt & Wordplay: Vidal’s work is distinguished by its witty and deft wordplay. The characters have witty and quick-witted conversations that make for a clever and enjoyable linguistic interchange.The play’s sharp insights and wordplay frequently provide the humor.
4. Social critique: The play makes people laugh while also making social critique. Vidal sheds light on human character, social mores, and the effects of unbridled authority by utilizing the viewpoint of the extraterrestrial Kreton.Vidal’s tendency to use his works as a vehicle for social and political criticism is evident throughout the play.
5. Characterization: Each character embodies a stereotype or reflects a certain facet of society, allowing for witty and perceptive critique. Characters are sometimes presented in exaggerated or stereotypical ways, adding to the play’s satirical bent.
6. Fast-Paced conversation: The play’s conversation moves quickly and dynamically, which keeps the action interesting and alive. The play’s overall lively vibe and humorous timing are enhanced by the brief interactions.
7. Social and Political Awareness: Vidal, who is renowned for having a sharp political sense, could include subtle or not-so-subtle allusions to current political and cultural themes from the 1950s throughout the play.
8. Timeless Themes: Despite having its roots in the 1950s, the play’s themes are frequently timeless, touching on universal qualities of human nature that appeal to audiences of all ages.
In conclusion, the comedy and sarcastic tone of “Visit to a Small Planet” blends humor, absurdity, and social satire. Vidal’s play is both thought-provoking and enjoyable because of his astute writing and examination of human behavior.


Through its humorous and humorous perspective, Gore Vidal’s “Visit to a Small Planet” examines a number of subjects. The play’s main topics include the following:
1. Human Nature and Absurdity: The play exposes the inconsistencies and contradictions in human conduct by satirizing it. Vidal examines how some parts of human behavior might seem absurd or humorous from an outsider’s viewpoint through the figure of Kreton, an alien observer.
2. Social Conformity and Norms: Vidal subverts conventional norms and expectations by putting Kreton, a disruptive force, in a conventional suburban environment. The drama explores how people adapt to societal conventions and how the entrance of an extraterrestrial undermines these standards for both individuals and society as a whole.
3. Power and Control: Kreton’s ability to read minds and alter reality is one way the play explores the issue of power. As the military tries to contain Kreton, the effects of unbridled power and the fight for control become evident.
4. Media Sensationalism: The subject of media sensationalism is reflected in Roger Spelding’s haste to broadcast Kreton’s narrative. Vidal parodies the media’s propensity to use oddball or dramatic situations for their own amusement and financial gain.
5. Military power and Discipline: Conrad Mayberry serves as a symbol of the military establishment, and themes of military power and discipline are emphasized via his interactions with Kreton. The drama explores the military’s reaction to unforeseen events and the conflict between military law and Kreton’s turmoil.
6. Individualism vs. uniformity: There is friction between Kreton’s free-spirited, individualistic personality and the expected uniformity of suburban life. The drama explores the worth of individualism in a culture that frequently prizes uniformity.
7. Existential Reflections: The play raises existential concerns about the meaning and purpose of life. Characters and viewers are prompted to contemplate the ridiculousness and triviality of some parts of life by Kreton’s distanced viewpoint.
8. Political and Cultural Criticism: Gore Vidal, who is renowned for his political awareness, may include subtly worded or overt criticism of the 1950s political and cultural milieu in the play. These criticisms could touch on topics like political conformity, society norms, and Cold War fears.
9. Isolation and Separation: Kreton’s position as an outsider from another planet highlights issues of otherness and isolation. The play addresses issues of acceptance and understanding by examining how those who are different or unfamiliar are handled in society.
10. Thoughts on transformation: The play considers the possibility of both social and personal transformation. The Spelding family’s routine is upset by Kreton’s arrival, which makes them reevaluate their goals and ideals.
Through satire and humor, “Visit to a Small Planet” explores these subjects in depth and invites viewers to think critically about a range of facets of society and human nature.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the significance of the play’s title, “Visit to a Small Planet”? How does it reflect the central theme or message of the play?
  2. Discuss the character of Kreton, the alien visitor. How does his presence serve as a commentary on human nature, and what role does he play in the overall narrative?
  3. Explore the satirical elements in the play. What aspects of human behavior and society does Vidal satirize, and how does he use humor to convey his critique?
  4. Analyze the manipulation of reality in the play. How does Kreton’s ability to read minds and alter situations contribute to the comedic and thematic elements of the story?
  5. Examine the characters of the play, including their motivations, conflicts, and relationships. How do these characters represent different facets of society, and what do they reveal about human nature?
  6. Consider the play’s setting and time period (1950s United States). How might the cultural and political context of the time influence the themes and satire present in the play?
  7. Discuss the role of absurdity in the play. How does Vidal use absurd situations and dialogue to highlight the irrationality of certain aspects of human behavior?
  8. Explore the theme of power and its consequences in the play. How does Kreton’s ability to manipulate reality reflect broader commentary on power dynamics within society?
  9. Analyze the play’s humor and wit. How does Vidal use language, wordplay, and comedic timing to engage the audience and convey his social critique?
  10. Consider the play’s ending. How does it resolve the various conflicts and themes presented throughout the narrative, and what message or reflection on humanity does it leave the audience with?
  11. Explore any parallels or connections between the characters and events in the play and real-life situations or historical events of the time. How might Vidal be using the play as a commentary on contemporary issues?

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