The empty coffin is also among the possessions Claire brings with her to Güllen. Its presence is foreboding from the moment it appears: when the Teacher first sees it, he senses that Claire is the type to toy with life and death like a Fate from Greek myth. After it is revealed that the coffin is intended for Ill, it becomes a symbol for the grim fate that awaits him. Act II opens with Roby and Toby adorning the casket with wreaths, just as they might at Ill’s funeral. The repetition of this ritual—and the reiteration of implied threats in general—are so relentless and demoralizing that they crush the Gülleners’ hope of resisting Claire’s offer and Ill’s hope of surviving. The coffin, in other words, becomes a symbol of the inevitable, of the fate into which Ill is literally boxed.
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Empty Coffin appears in The Visit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.