LITERARY TREND AND AUTHOR CANON
Shaw is considered the most important English-language modern playwright.
Introduced the Theatre of Ideas in British literature – a type of drama that deals with controversial issues in a realistic manner, exposes social evils, stimulating thought and discussion on the part of the audience. The characters represent ideas, conflicting points of view in a realistic context.
Parodies melodrama to develop an intellectual comedy of manners;
Major theme: hypocrisy – his plays try to reveal the bogus values of society;
Modernist traits in Shaw’s prose:
Shaw was an anti-romantic, because he thought that the romantic view went in the way of people seeing what really happened in the world.
“I had no taste for popular art, no respect for popular morality, no belief in popular religion, no admiration for popular heroics. I simply understood life differently”(G.B. Shaw)
He was against the principle of art for art’s sake or entertainment through drama. He was for a theatre that preached to its audience on social issues.
CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA (published 1901)
The play is included in the “Three Plays for Puritans” series (the title is ironic and aims at a reinterpretation of social and historical values).
Main theme: War and politics. In Shaw’s vision, Caesar acts as a mentor to the young Queen. She is concerned with establishing rulership over her kingdom, while Caesar is at war with Pompey, his former ally in the triumvirate that led Rome. Caesar objects to unnecessary violence and often contradicts Cleopatra’s superstitious beliefs and violent tendencies with rational pragmatism. The secondary theme which is derived from this attitude is what makes authority legitimate.
Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator, is enthralled with the 16-year-old Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. They are both in power struggles over the control of their lands, but, while Caesar is mature and wise, Cleopatra is immature. Caesar is wise enough to avoid being tempted by the Queen and instead teaches her the art of politics. Although Caesar wants to avoid bloodshed, Cleopatra’s order to assassinate Ponthinus determines him to approve the retribution against the killer and the reprimand of an Egyptian uprising. In the end, Cleopatra’s rival for the throne (her brother and husband) is killed and she becomes the sole ruler of Egypt.
Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.
POINT OF VIEW
The point of view in drama is usually objective;
It is defined by:
*ATTENTION: dramatic point of view is a feature of prose, in which a narrator reports the events of a scene without revealing a character’s thoughts and feelings.
In drama, the tone can belong to:
Character’s tone: relevant for characterisation.