Stages of Struggle

Modern Playwrights and Their Psychological Inspirations


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About the Book

One way or another, all playwrights use their work to explore the issues that interest them. The characters in a play may trumpet their creator’s political views from the stage, or an unusual structure or set design may result from the playwright’s interest in theatrical form. It is also common, particularly in the plays of the 20th and 21st century, to see a playwright delving into psychological issues raised by his own mental struggles or those of people he loves. Luigi Pirandello, tormented by the schizophrenia of his wife and other family members, repeatedly explored the problems caused by different visions of reality. Noël Coward’s self-obsessed characters reflect his own narcissism. Alcoholism is a recurrent theme in the works of many playwrights, including Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee, and Brian Friel. Through their exploration of these issues and more, the great writers of the theater have turned suffering into art. This book looks at the work of 20 playwrights to see how their examination of the disturbed mind has influenced the modern theater.

About the Author(s)

John Louis DiGaetani, an English professor at Hofstra University, is the author of numerous books about opera and theater.

Bibliographic Details

John Louis DiGaetani
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 206
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3157-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8259-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. George Bernard Shaw The Gay Subtext      9
2. Luigi Pirandello Schizophrenia      26
3. Noel Coward Narcissism      37
4. Samuel Beckett Decadence and the Suicidal Impulse      51
5. Tennessee Williams Sibling Rivalry      65
6. Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee, Simon Gray, Brian Friel, Martin McDonagh Alcoholism      78
7. Harold Pinter Sadomasochism      94
8. Benjamin Britten Pedophilia      104
9. Caryl Churchill, Joe Orton, Tom Stoppard Sexual Dysfunction      118
10. David Hare Transference      130
11. David Mamet and Harvey Fierstein Gender Roles and Role Playing      143
12. Stephen Sondheim Perfectionism      153
13. Tom Stoppard Logomania      169
14. Stages of Struggle, a Wagnerian Conclusion      183

Bibliography      187
Index      193