英美文学通论
美国文学讲义10
发布时间:2008-05-26  浏览次数:

Chapter 10 American Drama

  I. Brief Introduction

  1.17th century

  lYe Bare and Ye Cubb 1665 by William Darby

  2.18th century

  lAmerican subjects began to be treated seriously. The first tragedy is The Contrast 1787 by Royal Tyler. It is considered ※typical American play§ about American soldiers.

  3.19th century

  lpoetical plays, esp in the first half of a group of playwrights

  lafter civil war: realism, melodrama, emotional incidents domestic melodrama, with simple plots

  4.20th century

  separation from the old tradition

  l1920s: ※Little Theatre Movement§ began after 1912, Washington Square Players, Provincetown Players New York City, Greenage Village. They are freed from the conventional theatre and can be as experimental as they like.

  l1930s: Eugene ONeil, Clifford Odets

  lPost-war: second climax of American drama, Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman

  l60s: Theatre of the Absurd, Edward Albee

  II. Eugene ONeil

  1.life

  2.works

  (1Bound East for Cardiff

  (2Beyond the Horizon

  (3The Emperor Jones

  (4The Hairy Ape

  (5Desire under the Elms

  (6The Iceman Cometh

  (7Long Days Journey into Night

  3.point of view

  His purpose is to get the root of human desires and frustrations. He showed most characters in his plays as seeking meaning and purpose in their lives, some through love, some through religion, some through revenge, all met disappointment. The characters seem to share ONeils perplexities of human nature. As a result of his tragic and nihilistic view of life, his works, in general, indicated chaos and hopelessness.

  4.The Hairy Ape

  Yank

  5.style

  (1ONeil was a tireless experimentalist in dramatic art. He paid little attention to the division of scenes. He introduced the realistic or even the naturalistic into the American theatre.

  (2He borrowed freely from the best traditions of European drama, especially the stream of consciousness.

  (3He made use of setting and stage property to help in his dramatic representation.

  (4He wrote long introduction and directions for all the scenes, explaining the mood and atmosphere.

  (5He sometimes wrote the actors lines in dialect.

  6.His position

  He was the first playwright to explore serious themes in theatre. With him, American drama developed into a form of literature. And in him, American drama came of age mature. He came only after Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw in the world of drama.

  III.    Tennessee Williams

  1.life

  2.point of view and themes

  He writes about violence, sex, homosexuality taboos in drama. Some of his plays rooted in southern social scene. The characters are often unhappy wanderers; lonely, vulnerable women indulged in memory of the past or illusion of the future. He was attracted to bizarre characters and their predicament. He looked deeply into the psychology of the outcasts of society. He saw life a game which cannot be won. Almost all his characters are defeated.

  3.his plays

  (1The Glass Menagerie

  (2A Streetcar Named Desire

  (3Summer and Smoke

  (4Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

  4.style

  (1combination of coarseness and poetry

  (2vivid southern speech

  (3He helped to break taboos, long imposed on the American literature.

  IV.     Arthur Miller

  1.life

  2.theme: dilemma of modern man in relation to family and work

  3.his plays

  (1The Man Who Had All the Luck

  (2All My Sons

  (3Death of a Salesman

  (4The Crucible

  (5A View for the Bridge

  V.  Theatre of the Absurd

  1.introduction: existentialist philosophy, mainly in Europe

  2.four founders: Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov

  3.What is ※absurd§?

  Humorous and meaningless

  4.features

  (1The basic assumption: human life lacks coherence and is chaotic. Life operates without any rules.

  (2The world is meaningless, so the play appears meaningless.

  (3It examines the problems of life and death, of isolation and communication.

  (4It satirizes people who are unaware of the ultimate reality death.

  (5In absurd drama, situation is more important than characters and events. The dramatist wants to show people what their situation in their life is. Therefore, he constructs a play which presents a picture of the universal situation. One result of these is that the characters are often comic and humorous.

  5.Edward Albee

  (1Life

  (2Works

  a. Zoo Story

  b. Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?