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The Oresteia: A theatrical poetics

Haskell, Greer; (1994) The Oresteia: A theatrical poetics. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

An exploration of Aeschylus' Oresteia based on the premise that tragic meaning is most fully realized in performance. It is argued that Greek tragedy has the capacity to change the psychological distance between audience and dramatic theme, thereby shifting audience perspectives, both judgmental and emotional, on the unfolding action. Tragedy is predisposed to do this by nature of certain conventions of mise en scène specific to classical Athenian drama and its complex presentation of choruses and characters. Part One: Classical Text as Acting Text Section I: Language as Action, Motivation and Character identifies the language of action and motivation which indicates that classical dramatic text is designed for performance by actors. It assesses presentation of dilemma, conflict, argument and status through logos. Section II: The Physical Actor in Space and Time focuses on the way in which the C5th convention of mask-wearing may have contributed to the quality of movement produced in tragic space. It examines implicit authorial suggestion a propos gestures in Oresteia and how interplay of mask and gesture may have engendered the constant in-and-out movement between various perspectives, the co-existence of illusion and 'disillusion', which characterizes tragic experience. Part Two: The Role of the Three Oresteian Choruses: Language. Action and Emotion examines the distinctive characterizations of the three Oresteian choruses and their meaning. Their changing roles help alter mood and atmosphere in their respective plays, thus mediating audiences' perspectives on the performance. Choruses 'cipher' audiences' emotional proximity to, or distance from, the drama and its characters. Part Three: Perspectives on Character: Orestes and Clytemnestra attempts more detailed construction of tragic characters, not only the linguistic means by which they are created, but their effect on an audience in live performance. The manner in which characters are presented in Oresteia suggests authorial intention to sway audiences' type and degree of focus on them.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Oresteia: A theatrical poetics
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Oresteia
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10098663
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