Grace Wen 488206088
Dr. Kate Liu
Literary Criticism II
William Bulter Yeats・ Involving Drama:
The Psychoanalytic Process of Purgatory, On Bail・s Strand, and At the Hawke・s Well
Thesis Statement: Yeats involved his contradictory relation in-between the father-mother-son triangle, especially his Oedipus complex in the characters in Purgatory, On Bail・s Strand, and At the Hawke・s Well.
I. Yeats・s Life
A. Yeats had the bad experience with women.
1. Yeats・s mother was sick and absent in his childhood.
2. He proposed Maud Goone several times and was always refused.
B. Yeats did not get long with his father very well.
II. Yeats attitude towards his father is dramatized in his plays.
A. The conflict between Conchubar and Cuchulain in On Bail・s Strand suggests that Yeats had the repressed hostility toward his father. (Lucan・s idea of the Symbolic Order of the father figure)
1. Conchubar asks Cuchulain to take the oath of obeying him forever.
2. Cuchulain kills his son without knowing that his mother is Aoife whom he loves.
3. Conchubar knows the truth but does not tell Cuchulain before the fight happens.
B. In Purgatory, Old Man kills his father and son in order to rescuer his mother from suffering.
III. Yeats・s sense of the loss in dealing with his experiences with women is obvious in these plays.
A. Aoife who does not appear but is mentioned by those characters posses the influenced power toward the conflict between her son and her son・s father, Cuchulain.
B. The Old Man・s mother does not appear on the stage, either. However, she is the reason the Old Man kills his own father and son.
C. The hawk woman, whom Cuchulain runs after is like Maud Goone who Yeats pursued. Therefore, Cuchulain is doomed to fail in pursuing the hawk woman.
Comparing the similarities between Yeats・s life and Cuchulain・s experience, there is no surprise for the audience to find that Yeats indeed involves his relationship with his father, mother and lover in these plays.
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---. On the Baile・s Strand. Modern Irish Drama. Ed. John P. Harrington. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991. 12-32.
---. Purgatory. Modern Irish Drama. Ed. John P. Harrington. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991. 33-39.