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- Unseen characters in selected plays of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee.
- 549 p.
- 58-12A. Dissertation Abstracts International
- Byrd, Robert E., Jr.
- New York University.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 58-12, Section: A, page: 4497.;Director: Lowell Swortzell.
- Thesis (Ph.D.)--New York University, 1998.
- The unseen character in the theatre is any person, living or dead, who never appears on the stage but is, nonetheless, spoken of by an onstage character or characters. This unseen figure has been used as a dramatic device in the theatre since antiquity, and was inventively employed by modern European writers, especially Chekhov, Ibsen, Strindberg, and the absurdists.;The American playwrights Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee, whose careers span the twentieth century, have employed the technique of the unseen character in traditional ways: using it to move the plot and to provide reference for emotional or humorous speeches. However, these writers have also used the unseen character in adding, to their plays, a second order of reality, a super-realm that surrounds and touches the world of onstage action. The relation between the two orders, or realms, is reflective, much like the relation between Shakespeare's main and secondary plots. Unseen characters are the population of the super-realm, and are used to mirror onstage themes, characters, and plot lines.;O'Neill's super-realm is the past, but not the past as conventionally conceived. O'Neill's unseen characters inhabit a past that is active in the present; they unite with psychological and cosmic forces to alter onstage action. O'Neill's favorite unseen figure is the lost mother, an ambiguous figure that powerfully shapes onstage events.;Williams' super-realm is also the past, but a version of the past reshaped, by onstage characters, into forms of myth. Onstage characters yearn for figures in the mythic realm, desiring to join them in imagined bliss. Williams' favorite unseen figure is the lost father, although a beautiful young man sometimes serves.;Albee's super-realm is chaotic, a place where the boundary between appearance and reality is tested, where grotesque people and events dominate the foreground. The unseen characters of this Inferno often make themselves known through messenger figures, those who enter the onstage space with bewildering glimpses of the unseen chaos. Albee's favorite unseen figure is a male child.;All three writers use the unseen character to provide dramatic contrast and raise the level of ambiguity in their plays.