"The whole man": a discussion of the influence of aspects of the occult and of German philosophy on Yeats’s dramatic theory and performance
Ní Dubhghaill, Aibhlín
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This thesis will attempt to set out the core elements of the dramatic theory of William Butler Yeats. He had worked on this for many years, attempting to create a theatre in which unity of Image on stage would lead to a sense of Unity of Being in the audience, which, in turn, would lead to a form of Unity of Culture in society at large. The thesis will examine the core disciplines and areas of epistemology which influenced Yeatsian dramatic theory. Initially, it will look at his pagan or neo-pagan sensibility, as expressed through his belonging to numerous magical societies, and his involvement indifferent areas of pagan, occult and esoteric knowledge such as Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy and The Golden Dawn. The second chapter will examine his reading of German Philosophers and thinkers such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche and Friedrich Schiller. It will also address the strong influences of different aspects of the thinking of these philosophers on his dramatic theory. The influence of the psychoanalytic work of Carl Gustav Jung and Sigmund Freud will also be briefly adumbrated. The third chapter will set out the dramatic theory itself, and the different uses of language, ritual, staging and masks that Yeats used to try to create his theatre of art. It will also trace the influences of pagan thought and philosophy on the theory itself. In the final chapter, a representative selection of plays will be analysed in the light of the dramatic theory: On Baile’s Strand; The Green Helmet; The Shadowy Waters; The Hourglass; At the Hawk’s Well; The Player Queen; The Cat and the Moon and The Herne’s Egg. In this chapter the syncretic and dialectical influence of the performances on the theory, and of the theory on the performances, will be analysed.
KeywordsWilliam Butler Yeats
Unity of being