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MEG 02

BRITISH DRAMA

MEG 2 ASSIGNMENT FOR JULY 2021 & JAN 2022 SESSION

MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Q. 2. Discuss the play within the play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Ans. The Play-within-the Play: This play within a play is therefore used by Shakespeare to make a subtle point about theatre, namely the fact that it is only acting.

The Mechanicals like to perform a play at Theseus’ wedding.

Theseus is an enlightened ruler, notable for his wise judgment but there is a limit to his abilities: the problem Egeus gives him seems incapable of solution, so he tries to buy time and work on Egeus and Demetrius.MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

But there seems little hope that the “harsh Athenian law” will produce a solution acceptable to all parties.

In this play, the apparently anarchic tendencies of the young lovers, of the mechanicals-as-actors, and of Puck are restrained by the “sharp Athenian Law and the law of the Palace Wood. by Theseus and Oberon, and their respective consorts.

This tension within the world of the play is matched in its construction: in performance, it can at times seem riotous and out of control and yet the structure of the play shows a clear interest in symmetry and patterning.

Confronted by the “sharp law of Athens, and not wishing to obey it. Lysander thinks of escape. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

But he has no idea that the wood, which he sees merely as a rendezvous before he and Hermia fly to his aunt, has its own law and ruler.

As Theseus is compromised by his own law, so is Oberon. Theseus wishes to overrule Egeus, but knows that his own authority derives from the law, that this cannot be set aside when it does not suit the ruler’s wishes. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

He does discover a merciful provision of the law which Egeus has overlooked (for Hermia to choose the livery of a nun”) but hopes to persuade Demetrius to relinquish his claim, insisting that Hermia take time before choosing her fate.

The lovers’ difficulties are made clear by the law of Athens, but arise from their own passions: thus, when they enter the woods, they take their problems with them.

Oberon is compromised because his quarrel with Titania has caused him and her to neglect their duties: Oberon, who should rule firmly over the entire fairy kingdom cannot rule in his own domestic arrangements.

We see how each ruler, in turn, resolves this problem, without further breaking of his law.

In the love relationships of Theseus and Hippolyta, of Oberon and Titania, and of the two pairs of young lovers, we see love which, in a manner appropriate to the status and character of the lovers, is idealized eventually. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

The duke and his consort have had their quarrel before the action of the play begins, but Shakespeare’s choice of a mythical ruler means the audience well knows the “sword” and “injuries” referred to in 1.2; we see the resolution of the fairies’ quarrel and that of the lovers during the play, and all is happy at its end.

But whereas the rulers resolve their own problems, as befits their maturity and status, the young lovers are not able to do so, and this task is shared by Oberon and Theseus.

Oberon orders Puck to keep Lysander and Demetrius from harming each other, and Theseus confirms their wishes as he overbears Egeus’ will.

He is not now breaking his own law, because Demetrius cannot be compelled to marry against his will. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

A ridiculous parallel case of young lovers so subject to the passion that, after disobeying their parents’ law, they take their own lives, is provided by Pyramus and Thisbe.

Lysander and Demetrius laugh at the mechanicals’ exaggerated portrayal of these unfortunates, but the audience has seen the same excessive passion in earnest from these two. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

If Lysander breaks – or evades – the Athenian law knowingly, then the mechanicals break the law of the wood unwittingly Puck’s conversation with the first fairy in 2.1, makes clear that the wood is where Oberon and Titania keep their court, though they travel further afield

(Oberon, according to Titania, has come “from the farthest steep of India” because of the marriage of his favorite to Theseus, while the Fairy Queen has also been in India with the mother of her changeling.)

In the end, we can conclude that the story of Pyramus and This offers a very subtle return to a couple of the main elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: lovers caught up in misunderstanding and sorrow enhanced by the darkness of night.

Like the main story of the outer play, the inner play consists of a tragic premise made comical by the actors.MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

The craftsmen’s unintentionally goofy portrayal of the woe of Pyramus and Thisbe makes the melodramatic romantic entanglements of the young Athenian lovers seem even more comical.

However, it is important to recognize as well that the inherent structure of a play-within-a-play allows Shakespeare to show off his talent by inserting a gem of pure comedy.

The conflicts have been resolved and a happy ending procured for all; the performance, thus, has no impact on the plot. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Rather, the craftsmen’s hilarious bungling of the heavy tragedy allows the audience, and the melodramatic Athenian loyers, to laugh and take delight in the spectacle of the play.

MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment
MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Q. 3. To what extent does Hamlet correspond to classical or medieval notions of tragedy?

Ans. Hamlet as a Tragedy: Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is a very dramatic play, involving many conniving people, murder, and an overall atmosphere of suspense.

It is therefore referred to as a tragedy There are many aspects in Hamlet that make it one of Shakespeare’s best tragedies. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

There are numerous murders including the untimely death of the innocent and pure Ophelia, and the murder of two loving fathers: King Hamlet and Polonius.

There are also numerous revenge plots including those of Laertes, Hamlet, and Fortinbras. As the play progresses, hatred becomes evident between many characters of the play.

After omes evident that two characters are more responsible for it being a tragedy, Hamlet and Claudius.

Hence, Hamlet rises above the revenge play and answers to subtler demands of a great tragedy. In the end, Hamlet turns out to be a great tragedy rather a mere revenge play.

One of the foremost Elizabethan tragedies in the canon of English literature is “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare and one of the earliest critics of tragedy is Aristotle.

One way to measure Shakespeare’s work, “Hamlet”, is to appraise it using the methods of classical critics to see if it meets the criteria for a tragedy.

Hamlet is one of the most recognizable and most often quoted tragedies in all of English literature. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Aristotle, who is concerned with the proper presentation of tragic plays and poetry, defines tragedy as: “…

a representation of an action that is worth serious attention, complete in itself, and of some amplitude; in language enriched by a variety of artistic devices appropriate to the several parts of the play; presented in the form of action, not narration; by means of pity and fear bringing about the purgation of such emotion.”

Shakespeare uses character, plot and setting to create a mood of disgust and a theme of proper revenge, as opposed to fear and pity, hence Aristotle would have disapproved of Hamlet as being a tragedy.

It is the above-mentioned elements; character,
plot and setting, used in a non-Aristotelian way, that makes Hamlet work as one of the English language’s most renown tragedies. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

By proper revenge, we refer to the Elizabethan view that revenge must be sought in certain cases, for the world to continue properly. This is the main plot of Hamlet.

In Poetics, Aristotle defines for us, the element of plot and shows us how he believes it must be put together. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

He also believes in various unities which he states are necessary for a proper tragedy. Aristotle believes in what he calls “Unity of plot”.

This “Unity” leaves no room for subplots, which are crucial to the theme of Hamlet.

Without the subplot of Laertes’ revenge and the subplot of Fortinbras’ revenge, we are left with a lugubrious play where the ending, although necessary, is pointless.

The three sub-plots together as a unit, allow us to understand what Shakespeare thought of revenge.

Another of the ways Aristotle defines plot in tragedy as “The noble actions and the doings of noble persons”.

By this definition, Hamlet should be a noble person, who does only noble things. Aristotle would have objected to Hamlet’s refusal to kill Claudius during prayer which forms the turning point of Hamlet.

This is significant because if he were to have achieved his revenge at that point, Claudius’ soul may have been clean. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Hamlet wishes to get revenge when Claudius “Soul may be damned and black/As hell, whereto it goes.

By waiting for the right time, Hamlet loses his chance to achieve revenge. This ignoble act does add to the theme of proper revenge, not in the primary plot, but when all three revenge sub-plots are considered together.

Q.4. Can The Alchemist be understood as a satire? Give suitable examples.

Ans. Comedy holds the mirror up to nature and reflects things as they are, to the end that society may recognize the extent of its shortcomings and the folly of its ways and set about its improvement.

Jonson’s greatest plays, Volpone (1606), Epicoene (1609), The Alchemist (1610), Bartholomew Fair(1614) offer a richly detailed contemporary account of the follies and vices that are always with us. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

The setting (apart from Volpone) is Jonson’s own London, and the characters are the ingenious or the devious or the grotesque products of the human wish to get ahead in the world.

The conduct of a Jonsonian comic plot is in the hands of a clever manipulator who is out to make reality conform to his own desires.

Sometimes he succeeds, as in the case of the clever young gentleman who gains his uncle’s inheritance in Epicene or the one who gains the rich Puritan widow for his wife in Bartholomew Fair.

In Volpone and The Alchemist, the schemes eventually fail, but this is the fault of the manipulators, who will never stop when they are ahead, and not at all due to any insight on the part of the victims.

The victims are almost embarrassingly eager to be victimized. Each has the ruling passion-his humor-and it serves to set him more or less mechanically in the path that he will undeviatingly pursue to his own discomfiture.

English comedy of the later 17th century is cast in the Jonsonian mold.

Restoration comedy is always concerned with the same subject-the game of love-but the subject is treated as a critique of fashionable society.

Its aim is distinctly satiric, and it is set forth in plots of Jonsonian complexity, where the principal intriguer is the rakish hero, bent on satisfying his sexual needs, outside the bonds of marriage, if possible. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

In the greatest of these comedies Sir George Etherege’s Man of Mode (1676), for example, or William Wycherley’s Country-Wife (1675) or William Congreve’s Way of the World(1700)-the premium is on the energy and the grace with which the game is played, and the highest dramatic approval is reserved for those who take the game seriously enough to play it with style but who have the good sense to know when it is played out.

The satiric import of Restoration comedy resides in the dramatist’s awareness of a familiar incongruity: that between the image of a man in his primitive nature and the image of man amid the artificial restraints that society would impose upon him.

The satirist in these plays is chiefly concerned with detailing the artful dodges that ladies and gentlemen employ to satisfy nature and to remain within the pale of social decorum. Inevitably, then, hypocrisy is the chief satiric target.

The animal nature of man is taken for granted, and so is the social responsibility to keep up appearances; some hypocrisy must follow, and, within limits, society will wink at indiscretions so long as they are discreetly managed.

The paradox is typical of those in which the Restoration comic dramatists delight, and the strongly rational and unidealistic ethos of this comedy has its affinities with the naturalistic and skeptical cast of late 17th-century philosophical thought.

It is generally conceded that Jonson failed as a tragic dramatist, and it is usually agreed that he failed because his genius was for satiric comedy and because of the weight of pedantic learning with which he burdened his two tragic failures.

The second point marks an obvious error of detail; the first is too crude a statement to be accepted; to say that he failed because his genius was unsuited to tragedy is to tell us nothing at all. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Jonson did not write a good tragedy, but we can see no reason why he should not have written one.

If two plays so different as The Tempest and The Silent Woman are both comedies, surely the category of tragedy could be made wide enough to include something possible for Jonson to have done.

But the classification of tragedy and comedy, while it may be sufficient to mark the distinction in the dramatic literature of more rigid form and treatment may distinguish Aristophanes from Euripides—is not adequate to a drama of such variations as the Elizabethans.

Q.5. Can Eliza in Pygmalion be termed as feminist? Elaborate.

Ans. The relationship between men and women, and how they interact, is often the basis of many novels and plays.

Struggle and conflict between them is very evident, yet the meaning and reason for the conflict are sometimes deeper than what is on the outside.

Bernard Shaw uses the play Pygmalion to also comment upon the conflict which exists between the sexes. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

This conflict is most clearly brought out through the relationship between Eliza and Henry Higgins.

Higgins is a polished teacher of phonetics and is introduced as a person who is of the energetic, scientific type, heartily, even violently interested in everything that can be studied as a scientific subject and careless about himself and other people, including their feelings.

These traits of character are bound to lead to conflict with Eliza Doolittle, a common flower girl who, by contrivance of plot, brings her to learn to speak like a lady in a flower shop from Henry Higgins.

Eliza has ambition and dignity and resents being bullied by Higgins, a social superior.

From the beginning of the play, we notice an element of conflict that characterizes their entire relationship.

At their first meeting she rebukes him when he insults her by calling her ‘a squashed cabbage leaf and an ‘incarnate insult to the English

language.’Even when she comes to Wimpole Street to ask to be taught, she does not beg but uses an attitude of defiance telling him: ‘If my money is not good enough, I can go elsewhere.MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

She speaks back to him when he doesn’t speak sensible to her and calls him a ‘great bully

Higgins continues to bully her, This is done even as he is free of malice’. He is attracted by the challenge which teaching Eliza presents: Its alias irresistible.

She’s so deliciously low, so horribly dirty.

He vows to make a Duchess out of this draggle-tailed guttersnipe’ and imperiously dismisses all criticism and advice when he is asked, ‘what is to become of her? The stage is set for conflict from the time Eliza enters Wimpole Street.

This is reflected of Shaw’s philosophy regarding the conflict of the sexes. Since neither party is willing to submit to the domination of the other challenge, confrontation and petty revenge is bound to follow.

Eliza accepts Higgins’s superiority as a teacher, but not without challenge. It is not the conventional teacher-taught relationship.

On being told to say her alphabet she shoots back with ‘I know my alphabet. Do you think I know nothing?’ Unable to break her spirit, Higgins threatens to drag her around the room three times by her hair. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Their relationship is one of inequality. Higgins has status, education, confidence, self-reliance and all that goes into making a mature gentleman.

Eliza, due to her background, has no culture, polished speech, education, or money to make her, in any way an equal to Higgins.

Yet, due to her personal dignity and confidence in herself, she is able to ward off all attempts by Higgins tu dominate her.

It is an irony in the play that while Shaw studiously tried to avoid the suggestion that Higgins and Eliza were in love, the general audience prefers to see a happy ending to their relationship.

Shaw twisted the principles of drama by not allowing a natural ending.

When the theatre-going public mistook a romantic ending to the play, he was incensed enough to write a ‘sequel to explain that their relationship was not one of love.

Eliza realizes that she is only as important to Higgins as ‘them slippers’ as Higgins will never be able to make Eliza the first and most important thing in life.

On the other hand, Higgins with his individuality would never submit to being a women’s plaything. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

With the recent social conquest that Eliza made at the Embassy Ball, Eliza realizes that it would not be worth marrying someone in whose she would not be the first priority when she could get any other suitable gentleman who would be devoted to her.

The conflict therefore continues. Eliza rejects Higgins while Higgins is always conscious that he never loved Eliza but learned to respect her as a person and become ‘accustomed to her voice, her face, her soul’.

He tells her to come back to Wimpole Street the morning after she left throwing the slippers at him.

He tells her to come back for the fun of it and significantly compares their living together to being like “three old bachelors’ rather than two men and a silly girl.

Through this statement, he expresses that his regard for Eliza is not on account of her being an attractive woman, but because he has learned to respect her individuality in the same way as he respects Pickering.

There is no doubt that the relationship between Eliza and Higgins at the end of the play is very different to their relationship at the beginning.

Higgins as Pygmalion’ has brought his ‘Galatea to life out of stone. We see the way in which this i accomplished by Higgins. Higgins first provides her with a unique social privilege which is superior speech.

This gives Eliza upward social mobility which she would otherwise never be able to achieve.

Eliza then becomes a puppet, programmed to carry out Higgins’s instructions at Mrs. Higgins’ At Home and later when she is a brilliant success at the Embassy Ball. It is at this time that Eliza undergoes another metamorphosis.

The Galatea walks out of stone. Ironically this Galatea does not love her Pygmalion, her Creator, but instead rebels against him, throwing his slippers in his face.

It is only later that she matures into an elegant sophisticated woman fit to be ‘a consort for a King’. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Eliza becomes conscious of her newfound equality and refuses to be treated like dirt under Higgins’ feet. She is justly upset at not being given credit for winning Higgins’ bet and complains I don’t matter I suppose.

She sees Higgins in the role of an exploiter who has used her to win his bet while studiously ignoring her future.

She wounds him deeply by suggesting that he might accuse her of stealing and drinks in his emotion like nectar and nags him to provoke a further supply.

Eliza is now in a position of advantage to bargain with Higgins. She appears at Mrs. Higgins’ home in Act V as ‘sunny, self-possessed and giving a staggeringly convincing exhibition of ease of manner.

She can now tell Higgins where he has been wrong and proves he is no gentleman. Clearly, the tables have been reversed.

Speaking about their relationship Eliza says, ‘the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.

Shaw shows us how the conflict between the sexes can be resolved if both recognize the dignity of the other individual.

Higgins resents Eliza trying to possess him and vehemently tells her: ‘get out of my way for I won’t stop for you. On the other hand, Eliza’s complaint is ‘I won’t be passed over.

The question is not whether I treat you rudely but whether you have ever heard me treat anyone else better. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

To this, she tells him ‘I want a little kindness…I’m not dirt under your feet…I did it because we were pleasant together…and I came to love for you, not to want you to make love to me; and not forgetting to the difference between us; but more friendly like’.

Q. 7. Discuss Murder in the Cathedral a poetic drama.

Ans. Since Eliot began his career as a writer during the second decade of this century, there has been just a single shift i his mental focus, and his turnover to the Poetic Stage is connected with this positional displacement.

This focal shift in his approach does not involve any fundamental twist in his outlook.

The original stand he took was one of repulsion to the bourgeois liberalist civilization with its stress on realism, skepticism, the dry-rock, waste-land symbolism, and from this he was logically led on to the subsequent position, that of deep respect for tradition and an understanding faith in theology and ecclesiastical authority.

The poetic dramas which have come since 1935–Murder in the Cathedral (1935), Family Reunion (1939), Cocktail Party (1949), and Confidential Clerk (1953), show him to have moved away, even from mere ecclesiastical tradition, to a deep ritualistic pagan faith.

His early poem, The Waste Land (1921), which has become now a pass-word to pretended acquaintance with modern literature among pseudo-intellectuals, is a rapid-moving-disjointed-yet-having-unity-picture of what scientific rationalism has made of human society.

His vision could take in only the world’s decay; he could not stomach the superficial optimism and shallow romantic outlook, full of smug assumptions regarding the beautiful, the true and the noble’.MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

In general, during the PostVersaillesian world, there was a penetrating search for a general theory of evaluation’.

This attempt at rigid evaluation, mentally, undertaken by poets like Eliot and literary thinkers like T. E. Hume, exposed the false basis of Romanticism.

The romanticist in his preoccupation with the self tended to minimize the influence of environment; he believed that man the individual is an infinite reservoir of possibilities.’

This attitude led to the gradual elimination of interest in the collective consciousness as exhibited through ritual, folk symbolism, and myths.

Thus romanticism, this worm-eaten liberalism, was exposed as a self-centered corruption of facts and there was an attempt at reviving deep interest in ritual, mystic symbols, and ancient myths.

In this search, the East, ancient Egypt, and the primitive tribes with their mystical rites and symbolism, became quite a reservoir from which to draw inspiring images.

The study of social anthropology by such pioneers as Sir James Frazer and Miss Jessie L. Weston revealed an enormous wealth of mythical customs and rituals, and Eliot drew deeply from this source to build up his edifice of symbols, into which could be put his impressions.

Writers earlier to Eliot, like Emerson, had drawn much from Oriental beliefs, as in poems like Brahma and Hamatreya. In fact, the impact of the East had its own part to play in the resurgent of poetic drama in Europe.

This basic movement away from the realistic, rationalist approach of the modern mind, into the thrilling but eerie world of myths, contributed to the development of the allegorical, symbolical style of writers between the two wars, men like D. H. Lawrence, Auden and Eliot.

That realism is brittle and inadequate to express the deep struggle in the consciousness of man, became evident as the war ended, and Eliot, being a man of extraordinary grasp the necessity to evolve a new form with the help proctor de modeminimo de doing base tradition.

The value of that underlying continuity in thought-process, that which is called tradition, had been minimised by the “romanticists’; but was deeply realised by Eliot as he wrote his famous early essay, Tradition and Individual Talent (1917):

“No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.

You cannot value him alone; you must set him for contrast and comparison, among the dead.”MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

What was required was the diversion of interest from the Poet to the Poetry and the realisation of the fact that the actual written work has to be studied and analysed, instead of the idealisation of the Poet’s personality –

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality”.
As F. A. Mathiessen puts it, the poet’s work, according to Eliot, is a process of continual self-sacrifice, the surrender of himself to the work to be performed.

So in poems like “The Waste Land and Ash Wednesday’the collective symbolism is reflective of the barrenness in the environments rather than of a purely personal world of ideas.

The many suggestive symbolical phrases, which come in rapid succession, provide a picture of what the inherent state of the present civilization is the many references to bones like the one in ‘Ash Wednesday’:

Under a Juniper tree, the bones sang, scattered and shining. We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other.

Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand Forgetting themselves and each other, united in the quiet of the desert.

This imagist trend in Eliot is much evident in The Waste Land. In the second part with the title A Game of Chess, he seems to have the satirical pleasure which Pope derived while describing Belinda’s toilet in ‘The Rape of the Lock”:

The chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, Glowed on the marble, where the glass The glitter of jewels rose to meet it, MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

From satin cases poured in rich profusion; In vials of ivory and colored glass Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes Unguent, powdered, or liquid.

In the same section of the poem, is one of the best illustrations for Eliot’s synthesis of the modern imagist trend with ancient classical myths, the sad story of Philomela’s violation by Tereus, her sister Procne’s husband:

“The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale Filled all the desert with inviolable voice. And still she cried, and still the world pursued “Jug’, ‘Jug’ to dirty years.”

The repetition of sordid images connected with rats shows nausea felt by the poet, looking at what is called civilization.
“I think we are in rat’s alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.”

Also, another reference in ‘The Hollow Men’: Rat’s feet over broken glass In our dry cellar. D
i missed In his later plays such symbolical suggestions abound and they convey the same picture of a world which has lost its faith, just as the mention of the cry of bats’ in The Cocktail Party.

In addition to this symbolical exhibition of the decay in modern civilisation, there is the recurring mention or the passage of time.

Eliot’s love of tradition is somehow synthesized with the concept of Time both as understood in the ancient scriptures and as interpreted by modern philosophy.

Time is as continuous as the flow of water in a river, in which like ripples are events; “what is actual is actual only for one time”, and only for one place.

Eliot grasped the psychical Possibilities of this Concept of Time in his later work-The Four Quartets where he assumed the existence of the Timeless, that Something which is beyond Time (God?), and of Reality as ‘the point of intersection of the timeless with time.

The mythical vision as mentioned in ancient texts like the Bhagavad-gita gave him the vision of the regeneration of life from time to time – The Rebirth, experience of the Now, an incessantly moving Now.MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Among all the types in literature, it is in the field of dramatic poetry that Eliot discovered the deepest tradition of myths, symbolical representations and other ritualistic forms, as much as in the case of Yeats who derived the same satisfaction out of Celtic myths.

Drama, since the most ancient days has always been ‘poetic’ in garb and ‘symbolist or mythical’ in content.

Eliot expressed, as Dryden did in 1681 in his famous Essay on Dramatic Poesy, all his thought on drama in the modern context in the form of a dialogue among individuals representing differing angles of view of the same poetic drama.

There are seven individuals A, B, C,D, E, and F, instead of the more informal personal names used by Dryden-Eugenius, Crites, Lisideius, and Neander, but all are supporters of the poetic drama.

There is a general criticism of the ‘realistic drama,’ of Shaw, William Archer and such others who championed ‘the play with a purpose.’

To Eliot, deeply stained by that weakness for ritualistic tradition, contemporary drama lacked the more formal element, a system of traditional symbolical and highly skilled movement’.

Might be that Eliot was influenced by the Natya Sastra of Bharata, with its detailed doctrinaire attitude to drama, or the Kabuki and No-technique of the Japanese.

But the ‘Ballet Russe with its systematic movements and strict art-form appealed to him so much that he wished to incorporate into dramatic poetry an element of ritualistic rigor along with the usual plot and action.

If what is permanent and universal is to be represented, then highly formalized poetry is to be added on to the dramatic action:

“The more fluid, the more chaotic the religious and ethical beliefs, the more the drama must tend in the direction of liturgy……”

He is convinced that modern drama fails to reach sublime heights, because “plays are written by poets who have no knowledge of the stage and also plays are written by men who know the stage and are not poets.”MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

The reasons that drew Eliot to the poetic stage are ritualistic symbolism, deep distrust of realistic and problem plays which are as bald as the lines:

He’s been in the army four years,
he wants a good time, And if you don’t give it him, there are others will, I said Oh, is there, she said.

(The Waste Land) The early attempts of Eliot at poetic drama are to be seen in that ‘Aristophanic Melodrama’, Sweeney Agonistes (1932), and The Rock (1934).

But the most developed of his poetic plays came later at long intervals, starting with Murder in the Cathedral ((1935), The Family Reunion (1939), The Cocktail Party (1949) and The Confidential Clerk (1953).

Of these, the first mention does not show that deep mystic symbolism of the cycle of regeneration that Eliot developed in the Four Quartets and which is evident in the last-mentioned plays.

As he is moving through the latter three plays, the feeling is inescapable that Eliot is even
giving up his stand on the ecclesiastic tradition of the Catholic Church and is becoming more universal in his grasp of values.

The poet obviously feels an apparent contradiction in their totality events appear to repeat themselves, though individually they look separate and unconnected.

That ‘Time past is time forgotten,’ may appear a truism, but another great passage spoken late in the play by the impetuous Archbishop completely brings out the Time-factor involved in the chain of causation.

The common fallacy of the ordinary logic is to argue by results” “to settle if an act be good or bad But the cause and effect interchange their position in the continuity of time – “And as in time results of many deeds are blended

So good and evil in the end become confounded.” ‘Murder in the Cathedral’s a Poetic Drama and drama are fused. MEG 02 Free Solved Assignment

Since the dialogue between the characters is in verse, the play becomes a combination of music, imagery, and ritual.

These factors create high intensity and dramatic effectEliot’s plays attempt to revitalize verse drama and usually treat the same themes as in his poetry.

For a very long period verse drama was the dominant form of drama in Europe (and was also important in non-European cultures).

Greek tragedy and Racine’s plays are written in verse, as is almost all of Shakespeare’s drama, and Goethe’s Faust.

Verse drama is particularly associated with the seriousness of tragedy, providing an artistic reason to write in this form, as well as the practical one that verse lines are easier for the actors to memorize exactly.

In the second half of the twentieth-century verse, drama fell almost completely out of fashion with dramatists writing in English (the plays of Christopher Fry and T. S.

Eliot is possibly the end of a long tradition).

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