Love, H W (1977) Dramatic action and character: a study of the theories and practice of T.S. Eliot and Bertolt Brecht. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of the use of the concepts of Action and Character in Modern drama, with the theories and practice of Bertolt Brecht and T.S. Eliot as example of characteristic Twentieth century limitations and modifications. The first two chapters are an attempt to establish a theoretical foundation for these originally Aristotelian concepts, which derives from more modern literary practice.
In chapter one I have taken four poems, by Oliver Goldsmith, Wordsworth, Browning and T.S. Eliot, and analysed the various relationships between the speaker, the figures and objects in the poems, and the reader, in order to distinguish between the status of characters and their modes of inter-relation. Chapter two extends the discussion by examining the concepts of dramatic distance and meaning in relation to action and character, using a distinction arrived at in the previous chapter, between a direct and an indirect intentional relationship between a speaker and reader or audience. The following three chapters examine the work of T.S. Eliot in the light of the preceding observations. Chapter three is an analysis of the philosophical foundations of his dramatic theory, particularly his conception of action and character, pointing to the characteristic dramatic limitations of his neo-Romantic standpoint. Chapter four analyses Murder in the Cathedral, indicating that play's dramatic dependence upon its Greek model, and chapter five analyses The Family Reunion and The Cocktail Party, stressing the dominance of rhetorical rather than dramatic qualities. Brecht is dealt with in a similar manner in chapters six to ten. Chapter six examines his philosophical background and its relation to the conflicting express­ionistic and non-expressionistic aspects of his theory. Two early plays (Baal and In the Jungle of Cities) are analysed in chapter seven, to indicate similarities to and differences from the concepts of action and character in expressionist drama, and in chapter eight two 'Lehrstlicke' (The Measures Taken and The Mother) are taken as examples of parables which fail dramatically because of their direct intentional relation to the audience. The first two versions of The Life of Galileo are compared in chapter nine, to indicate the fund­amental relationship between dramatic structure, characterisation and action. Finally, chapter ten examines the development of a dramatic parable form in Mother Courage and her Children and The Good Person of Setzuan. The thesis concludes by pointing out the differing success with which the two writers shape a dramatic form to cope with the predominant world-view of the early Twentieth century, and the central place of character, action and distance in dramatic, as opposed to other modes of expression.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 21 May 2019 15:57
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 08:23
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/6365

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