English Literature

The Iliad By Homer

Iliad By Homer | Character Sketch Of Achilles | Iliad Epic Poem

The Iliad By Homer
The Iliad By Homer
Character Map Iliad
Character Map Iliad
  • The epics are all based on some historic events – The Iliad deals with the Trojan War which was a historic event.
  • An epic is a long narrative poem – This feature of an epic is preserved in the Iliad. It was originally written in Greek and has been widely translated into other languages, including English. The original Greek version has about 15700 lines and is divided into twenty – four books (Chapters), each detailing the battles and events of a few weeks in the final year of the Trojan War.
  • A Primary epic begins in the middle of things and usually has flashbacks to show earlier portions of the story – The Iliad, the tale starts after a nearly tenth-year war between the united powers of Greece and the forces to the city of Troy and their allies.
  • An epic starts with an invocation to a divine force or god and Goddess – The Iliad also begins with such an invocation. To effectively narrate this story, the poet seeks the assistance of a muse Goddess. The first line of the Iliad itself goes,  “The Wrath, sing goddess, of Peleus’s son Achilles.”
  • God interfere in the affairs of human beings in their tales in a Primary epic – The Iliad includes a large number of Gods and Goddesses that have an influence on human affairs. God and Goddesses have human children as well, Achilles, for example, is Thetis, the sea nymph’s son.
  • The Setting of epic is vast covering many nations – The Iliad setting is also expansive, encompassing both Greek and Trojan islands.
  • Epic uses the Epic Simple – Epic simile is another important feature of an epic. An epic smile means an open compassion between two different or dissimilar things or objects. Such as – In the Iliad Hector has been compared to a boar and a lion. “He was like a wild – boar or a lion when he turns this way.”
  • Epic must have an epic Hero – In the Iliad, Achilles possesses godlike attributes that surpass human limits. Another hero is Hector, almost similar to Achilles.
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The Power And The Glory

The Power and The Glory By Graham Greene

Introduction

  • True Power and true glory and divine in Origin and are attributes of God’s head. But the priest manages to achieve both these to a certain extent in his perfect way and without knowing it.
  • Power may be yielded by a government through its lieutenants of police, but the glory belongs to priests who, even when sinning, are capable of rising to supreme heights of self-sacrifice.
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The American Scholar

The American Scholar By Ralph Waldo Emerson

The American Scholar
The American Scholar
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Theatre Of The Absurd

Theatre Of The Absurd “Absurdist”

Theatre Of The Absurd
Theatre Of The Absurd

Introduction

            The term “Theatre of The Absurd” was first derived by Albert Camus in an essay, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ (1942) in which he derived the philosophy of the absurd. According to Camus, this philosophy says,

“Mom is trying to pursue the
 meaning of life and this
 pursuance has no meaning
 in its own. So the men
 quest for the existence and
 to derive meaning for life is
 meaningless and is of no use.”

            Later in 1961, this term was coined by “Martin Esslin” in his book “Theatre of Absurd”. It is a literary movement that began with a group of dramatists around the 1950s and continued till the 1980s. It was the death of Samuel Beckett in 1989 that marked the end of this movement. This literary movement spread across America and Other European countries during the 1950s to 1960s. It is the movement that simply expresses the thought of human existence that has no meaning or purpose. In it, the playwright also discussed the changed behavior of human beings which they saw in their surroundings, because of the impact of World War II.

Definition Of The Theatre of the Absurd

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term as,

“Theatre that seeks to represent
 the absurdity of human existence
 in a meaningless universe by
 bizarre or fantastic means.”

History Of The Theatre of The Absurd

            This movement influenced by existentialism, began in the form of experimental theatre in Paris and consequently, the spread of the absurd form in other countries. Absurdist plays were written in French. Absurd elements first came into existence after the rise of Greek Drama in the plays of ‘Aristophanes’ in the form of Wild humor and buffoonery of the old comedy.

            Then, morality plays of the Middle Ages can also be called a precursor of ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’. In 19th century. Ibsen and Strindberg also included some elements of absurd theatre in their plays, but the real precursor of the present Theatre of Absurd is ‘Alfred Jerry’s play ‘Ubu Roi’.

            World War II finally brought the Theatre of Absurd to life because the Chaotic atmosphere during that time was compelling them to think about their absurd existence.

Features & Characteristics of the Theatre of the Absurd

  • Absence of a real story or plot.
  • No action since all actions are insignificant.
  • The value of language is reduced, in fact, what happens on the stage transcends and often contradicts, the words spoken by the characters.
  • Extensive use of pauses, silences, miming, and absurd situations reflect a sense of anguish.
  • Incoherent babbling makes up the dialogue.

Characteristics and Features in Detail

            Following are the chief characteristics of the Theatre of Absurd, but all these characteristic cannot necessarily be found in all the absurdist play because it is not necessary that the playwright must have used all the characteristic of Absurd plays:

1. Questions of Existence

                        Absurd plays raise some basic questions of existence like why we are alive, why we have to die, and why there is injustice and suffering.

2. Distrust In Language

                        For the absurdist playwrights, language is only a meaningless communication and stereotyped exchange of Ideas because words fail to express the essence of human existence.

3. Illogical Speeches and Meaningless Plots

                              Through illogical speeches and meaningless plots, they wish to establish a feeling of freedom to make their own words. Dr. Culik Says,

“Rationalist thought, like language,
 Only deals with the superficial
 aspects of things, Nonsense,
 On the other hand, opens up a
 glimpse of the infinite.”

4. Re-establishment of Man’s communion with the Universe

                        They attempt to restore the importance of myth and rituals in the life of man and make them aware of the ultimate realities of their life.

5. Emphasis on Abstract values of Life

                        Absurdists force us to look at our abstract values of life like love and family. Thus, we may hope to accept the absurdity of life and try to find values in a world devoid of them.

6. Vagueness about Time, Place, and Character

                        Absurdists have no time, place, or character in their plays as they feel that there is no past or future, only the repetition of the present.

7. Lack Of communication Amid Characters

                        Each character lives an egoistic life and attempts to get another character to understand him which results in more alienation.

Playwright of Absurd Drama

            Martin Esslin considered four playwrights: – Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, and Jean Genet as leaders of the movement. After some time, ‘Harold Pinter’ was also introduced to this group, as some of the works of Albert Camus, and Edward Albee.

Samuel Beckett

            Beckett is an Irish dramatist and novelist, who came from an ‘Anglo-Irish’ Protestant family. Beckett uses formless language deliberately to present the absurdity in his work. Some of his highly popularised fiction novels, originally written in French, Scored success are ‘Murphy’. ‘Molloy’ and ‘Watt’ which also follow his story “More Pricks than Kicks”.

            His masterpiece in drama is ‘Waiting For Godot’ which is the English version of the French Play En Attendant Godot’. Beckett also wrote a ‘monologue’. “Krapp’s Last Tape” in which Krapp attempts to recapture the greatness of earlier days by listening to recordings of days when she was young.

Eugene Ionesco

            Ionesco is a Rumanian – French dramatist, write in French. Eugene Ionesco is a central figure in this genre and the foremost figure of the French Avant-Grade Theatre. His plays basically focus on criticizing the meaningless existence of human beings while offering a subtle solution to change this situation. In Rhinoceros, Ionesco tries to build hope at the end of the play by making Berenger, the protagonist, stick to his human self and not follow the mass movement.

            His famous works are ‘The Bald Prima’, ‘The Lesson’, ‘The Chair’ an absurdist tragic force, ‘The Killer’, ‘Rhinoceros’, ‘The Victim of Duty’, ‘How to Ged Rid of It’, and ‘Macbeth’ written during the cold war. The Chairs and The Lesson are the most notable works of Ionesco.

Arthur Adamov

            He was a Russian-born dramatist who lived in France and wrote in French Adamov wrote an autobiographical volume L’Avew, where he for the first expressed the deep sense of alienation, one of the significant features of ‘Theatre of the Absurd’.

            Some of his famous plays are ‘La Paradise’, ‘Professor Taranne’, ‘Le Ping-Pong’, and ‘Printemps 71’.

Jean Genet

            A famous French novelist, dramatist, and poet. Genet’s contribution can be classified both as an Absurd dramatist and as a follower of Art and in his ritualistic ‘Theatre Of Cruelty’.

            His very famous plays are “Deathwatch”, “The Maids”, “The Balcony”, and “The Screens.”

Harold Pinter

            Pinter was a great English Playwright screenwriter, Director, Actor, and a Novel Prize winner for literature in 2005. Harold Pinter became the most influential modern British dramatist. His writing career continued for more than 50 years. His early works were described by critics as “Comedy of Menace”.

            His first full-length play was ‘The Birthday Party (1958)’, which ran for three nights in London. It later made a strong impression on Television and was successfully re-staged in 1964.

            Printer’s other most famous works are “The Room”, “The Homecoming”, and “Betray.”

Some of his one-act plays are ‘The Dumb Waiter’, ‘A Slight Ache’, ‘The Collection, and The Lover’ which have been produced in the theatre.

Albert Camus

            Camus was an Algerian and French philosopher. He was the youngest writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 in Literature. His philosophical work came out as absurdism. His essay ‘The Rebel’ which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially in Western Europe.

            ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ (1942) an essay by Camus, where he described meaningless things happening around him through the concept of ‘absurdism’ and this absurdist concept was first time seen in his work.

Edward Albee

            Edward Albee is an American playwright related to the theatre of the Absurd. He is known for his works written as one-act plays such as ‘As Zoo Story’, ‘The Sandbox’, and ‘The American Dream’. His first full-length play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

            He won the Pulitzer Prize for three works – ‘A Delicate Balance’, ‘Three Tall Women’, and ‘Seascape’, written in the form of Drama.

            Besides these, other playwrights like ‘Tom Stoppard’, ‘Arthur Kopit’, ‘Friedrich Durrenmatt’, ‘Fernando Arrabal’, ‘N. E. Simpson’, and also many dramatists associated with this theatre.

Conclusion

            Thus, the Absurdist play or The Theatre of Absurd only demonstrates the absurdity and illogicality of the world in which we live but does not provide any solution to the problem. Through these plays, man is again and again reminded that his existence in the world is in fact absurd and meaningless.

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Man And Superman By G. B. Shaw

Man and Superman Themes, Summary & Analysis G. B. Shaw

Man And Superman By G. B. Shaw
Man And Superman By G. B. Shaw

Introduction

“Man and Superman” by George Bernard Shaw is regarded as a philosophical play due to its exploration of several philosophical themes. It was first published in 1903. The play is subtitled “A Comedy and a Philosophy” and it reflects Shaw’s views on a wide range of topics, especially on the hypocrisy of Victorian society. It is a four-act play.

The first performance of Man and Superman in 1905 at the Royal Court Theatre in London, did not include the third act. Though subsequent productions have typically omitted the scene, “Don Juan in Hell”, it’s often performed as a separate play. ‘Eric Bentle’ a birth born American theatre critic & playwright called Man and Superman:

“The Supreme triumph of Shaw’s dramaturgical dialects.”

Character of the play

Roebuck Ramsden

Ramsden is a middle-aged gentleman who considers himself as an intellectual pioneer and a progressive thinker.

Octavius Robinson

Octavius is a young, orphaned bachelor in the social circle of the social circle of Ramsdens, the Whitefield, and Jack Tanner.

Ann Whitefield

Ann is the older daughter of Mr. Whitefield, She is based on the Character of Dona Ana.

Jack/ John Tanner

Jack Tanner, a left-wing thinker and author of the book The Revolutionist’s Handbook, is one of the men left in charge of Ann Whitefield after her death.

Violet Robinson

Violet is the sister of Octavius. She becomes pregnant at the beginning of the play and is secretly married to Hector Malone.

Henry Straker, Mendoza, Hector Malone Jr., Hector Malone Sr., Mrs. Whitefield, and Susan Ramsden are more characters, which is present in the play.

About G. B. Shaw

George Bernard Shaw, commonly known as G. B. Shaw was an Irish playwright, Critic, and political activist. After unsuccessful attempts at novel writing, Shaw turned to drama. He wrote over sixty plays in the course of his life, including – “Man and Superman”, Pygmalion, and Saint Joan. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1925. Shaw’s golden period as a dramatist was from 1903 to 1925, the time when he wrote his best and most famous play. Arthun Bingham Walkey praised Shaw as,

“A man who gives us a refined intellectual pleasure.”

Man and Superman as a Comedy or Philosophy

In the sub-title of the play, Shaw himself calls Man and Superman a comedy and a philosophy. We may designate the drama as a biological comedy with spiritual overtones. The central theme of the play is Shaw’s anthropologic myth that woman is the primary mover in the evolutionary process. In Act I, II, and IV we find the ruthless pursuit of Tanner by Ann that constitutes the comedy of the drama. The play is a rich storehouse of Shavian thoughts, but this thought content is treated in the vein of the most light-hearted comedy.

The play contains Shaw’s view on everyday subjects. He expressed his views on love, women, marriage, Sex-relationship, socialism, democracy, etc. In fact, the play is Shaw’s finest statement of his idea of a life force. Shaw’s life force is a spiritual power in the universe. Don Juan says in the play.

“Life is a force which has made innumerable
 experiments in organizing itself.”

            Shavian Don Juan is the spokesman of Shaw himself in the play. He is a philosophic man with intellect. In conversation with the statue Don Juan says:
“……….. to life, the force behind the Man,
Intellect is a necessity, because without
it he blunders into death.”

            On women, in the play, Shaw’s comment is that a woman is not a Poet’s dream. She has to play an important role in the evolutionary process. Shaw thinks that biologically woman is primary and non-secondary in the process of keeping the human race running.

            All the philosophical implications of the play have been illustrated through the story of Tanner and Ann with utmost levity and this makes the play comedy as well. Ann Whitefield is a vital genius, Tanner, on the other hand, is a man who does not tolerate women’s company. Tanner avoids Ann and regards her company as dangerous, Ann. On the other side, considers Tanner as “Biologically” preferable.

            Thus, we may say that Shaw is logically right to call “Man and Superman” a comedy and a philosophy. Shaw, in the play, expressed his philosophical views on serious subjects but the way he has gone is comical.

Themes of “Man and Superman”

            The themes of Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw are:

The conflict between man and Woman

            Shaw believed that men and women are fundamentally different creatures, with different goals and desires. In ‘Man and Superman’, this conflict is embodied in the characters of John Tanner and Ann Whitefield. Tanner is a brilliant but impractical idealist, while Ann is a ruthless social climber. Their relationship is a battle of wills, with each trying to manipulate the other to get what they want.

The Nature of the Superman

            Superman is Shaw’s ideal of a human being, someone who is intellectually and morally superior to the rest of humanity. Superman is someone who has achieved self-mastery to their own values, regardless of what society expects of them.

The importance of free will

            Shaw believed that humans have the power to choose their own destiny. In ‘Man and Superman’, this is represented by the Character of Don Juan. Don Juan is a legendary womanizer who has rejected the conventions of society. He believes that humans should live life to the fullest and experience everything that it has to offer.

The Role of Women in Society

            Shaw was a strong advocate for women’s rights. In Man and Superman, he challenges the traditional view of women as being inferior to men. He argues that women are just as capable, as men of intellectual and moral leadership.

The Importance of Education

            Shaw believed that education was essential for the improvement of the human race. In Man and Superman, he argues that education should be used to teach people how to think for themselves and question authority.

Analysis & Summary of the Play

            The play starts with a dedication, in the form of a letter, addressed to Arthur Bingham Walkley, Shaw’s friend, who according to the letter had once asked Shaw why he did not write a ‘Don Juan’ play.

            The play is an example of a comedy of manners that explores the themes of love,  marriage, and the nature of “Superman”. The play is divided into four acts. The first three acts are set in the real world, and they follow the story of John Tanner, a womanizing, philosopher and who is determined to marry him. The fourth act is set in Hell and it takes the form of a dream that Tanner has.

            When a man named Mr. Whitefield dies, he entrusts the guardianship of his daughter, Ann to two men; the revolutionary young ‘Jack Tanner’ and the stodgy rich ‘Roebuck Ramsden’. Jack, a sworn bachelor, has chosen to devote his life to philosophical pursuits. Meanwhile, Octavius Robinson, who was like a Son to Mr. Whitefield, becomes infatuated with Ann and determined to marry her, unaware that Ann is truly in love with Jack.

            In the first three acts, Shaw explores the conflict between Tanner’s intellectual idealism and Ann’s biological determinism. Tanner believes that humans are capable of great things but he also believes that they are often held back by their animal instincts.

            In the fourth act, Tanner’s dream takes him on a journey through Hell, where he meets a variety of Characters who are human nature. These characters include ‘Don Juan’ a symbol of the life force, ‘Dona Ana’, a symbol of the intellect, and the Devil, a symbol of evil.

            The dream helps Tanner to understand the true nature of the conflict between himself and Ann. He realizes that he cannot escape his biological instincts, but he also realizes that he can use his intellect to control them. The play ends with Tanner and Ann agreeing to marry, but on the condition that they will remain free individuals.

Conclusion

            Thus, through the play, Shaw explores the complex relationship between men, women, and the Life force. Some critics have seen it as a pessimistic view of marriage, suggesting that it is a trap that prevents men from achieving their full potential. Others have seen it as an optimistic view, suggesting that marriage can be a positive force for good if it is based on mutual understanding and respect.

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