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Durham e-Theses
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Towards a "new kind of sublimity": liturgy and incarnation in the dramatic work of T.S. Eliot

Orr, Marilyn Iris (1981) Towards a "new kind of sublimity": liturgy and incarnation in the dramatic work of T.S. Eliot. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines T. S. Eliot's last four plays, written for secular theatre with a view to the dramatization of Christian truths. It focusses on the liturgy, which is the Church's corporate dramatization of faith in worship of God; and the Incarnation, which is the basis for Christian faith and liturgy, and which provides the Christian dramatist with a model for bringing words to life in dramatic action. The first chapter begins with an introduction to the Christian liturgy, and specifically the liturgy of the Church of England which Eliot joined in 1927, and its relationship to drama. This is followed by an introduction to Eliot in terms of the development of his faith, as this is reflected in creative and critical works, with a focus on his understanding of the liturgy and the Incarnation. These provide him with a basis for dramatic efforts, with redemption as his subject. Each of the four chapters that follow deals with a particular play in this light. The Family Reunion (1939) is seen to reflect a primitive understanding of the Incarnation and the liturgy, which corresponds to an undeveloped sense of drama. The Cocktail Party (1949) manifests a focus on the Incarnation and Passion of Christ which results in a more fully conceived Christian understanding and a more fully conceived play. The Confidential Clerk (1953) is a technically refined product but a lack of dramatic life reflects Eliot's still limited sense of the implications of the Incarnation. The Elder Statesman (1958) reflects Eliot's deepened understanding of the Incarnation and its basis of love. Its story is analogous to the Incarnation of Christ and provides a context out of which liturgical rites evolve. The plays reflect a development in Eliot's Christian understanding in their movement towards simplicity of style and language, towards an appreciation of ordinary life, towards experienced faith and away from intellectualism. With the last play this development is still in process, but the process itself is illustrative of redemption.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1981
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Jul 2013 14:43

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