Modern European Drama
BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment January 2023
Q 1. Write notes on any two of the following
i) Tragedy and Heroism in Rhinoceros
Ans. I) Eugene Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros deals with the themes of tragedy and heroism in a world where conformity and adherence to a particular ideology are given precedence over individuality and free thought.
The play is set in a small French town where the inhabitants begin to turn into rhinoceroses, one by one.
This transformation is symbolic of the idea that conformity to a particular ideology can lead to a loss of individuality and humanity.
In the midst of this transformation, the play also explores the themes of heroism and resistance to this transformation.
One of the central characters in the play, Berenger, represents the voice of reason and individuality in a world that is increasingly becoming conformist. He resists the transformation into a rhinoceros and is seen as an outsider in the society that is rapidly transforming.
Berenger represents the idea of a hero who stands up against the forces of conformity and defends individuality and humanity.
He is a tragic hero who is faced with overwhelming odds, yet he refuses to give in to the transformation.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The transformation of the inhabitants into rhinoceroses is symbolic of the transformation of individuals into followers of a particular ideology.
The rhinoceroses represent the forces of conformity that can sweep through society, and the play explores the tragic consequences of this transformation.
The transformation of the inhabitants into rhinoceroses can also be seen as a commentary on the rise of fascism in Europe during the early 20th century, where the masses were swept up in a particular ideology that led to the destruction of individuality and freedom.
The play also explores the idea of the tragic hero and the idea that a hero is someone who is willing to stand up for what is right, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
Berenger is a tragic hero who represents the idea that true heroism lies in resisting the forces of conformity and defending individuality and humanity.
The play shows that true heroism lies not in conforming to the prevailing ideology, but in standing up against it and defending the principles of individuality and freedom.
In conclusion, Rhinoceros is a play that explores the themes of tragedy and heroism in a world where conformity and adherence to a particular ideology are given precedence over individuality and free thought.
The play presents a powerful commentary on the dangers of conformity and the tragic consequences that can result from it.
It also highlights the importance of resistance to these forces and the need for individuals to defend the principles of individuality and humanity.
The play remains a powerful reminder of the importance of resisting the forces of conformity and defending individuality and freedom.
ii) Structure of the Play Waiting for Godot
Ans. II) Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot is a masterpiece of modernist theatre, and one of the most influential works of the twentieth century.
It is a play that has inspired a great deal of critical discussion, and much of this discussion has focused on the play’s structure.
The structure of Waiting for Godot is complex and unconventional, and this has contributed to its status as a major work of avant-garde theatre.
The play is structured around the interactions between its two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, as they wait for the arrival of a character named Godot.
The play is divided into two acts, and each act is further divided into two parts. The first part of each act is focused on the interactions between Vladimir and Estragon as they wait for Godot, while the second part introduces a new character who interrupts their waiting.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The play is notable for its lack of plot and its reliance on character interaction and dialogue. The action of the play is minimal, and the characters spend most of their time waiting and engaging in idle conversation.
The lack of plot and action is intentional, and it serves to highlight the play’s themes of existential despair and the search for meaning in a meaningless world.
The structure of the play is cyclical, with each act mirroring the other. The characters’ waiting and their interactions with each other are repeated, and there is a sense of repetition and stasis that pervades the play.
The cyclical structure of the play reinforces the idea that the characters are trapped in a cycle of waiting and despair, with no escape or resolution.
One of the most striking aspects of the play’s structure is the use of repetition. The dialogue between the characters is often repeated, and certain phrases and actions are repeated throughout the play.
The repetition serves to emphasize the sense of futility and meaninglessness that pervades the play, as well as to highlight the characters’ inability to escape their situation.
The play is also notable for its use of symbolism and metaphor. The character of Godot, for example, represents the idea of an external force that can provide meaning and purpose to our lives, but which ultimately remains elusive and unattainable. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The tree that appears on stage serves as a symbol of hope and potential, but it is ultimately barren and lifeless. The use of symbolism and metaphor serves to deepen the play’s themes and to create a richly layered work of art.
The structure of the play is also notable for its use of humor and absurdity. The characters engage in a great deal of humorous banter and physical comedy, and there are moments of absurdity throughout the play.
The humor and absurdity serve to highlight the characters’ desperate search for meaning in a meaningless world, and to provide a counterpoint to the play’s darker themes.
The play’s structure is intentionally ambiguous and open to interpretation. The characters’ waiting and the arrival of Godot are never explained, and the play’s meaning is left open to the interpretation of the audience.
The play can be read as a commentary on the human condition, on the search for meaning and purpose in a meaningless world, or as a critique of modern society and its emphasis on productivity and materialism.
In conclusion, the structure of Waiting for Godot is complex and unconventional, and it serves to reinforce the play’s themes of existential despair and the search for meaning in a meaningless world.
The use of repetition, symbolism, and metaphor create a richly layered work of art that is open to interpretation and that continues to inspire critical discussion and analysis. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The play’s structure is a major part of its enduring appeal and its status as a major work of avant-garde theatre.
Q 2. Critically examine, with reference to the context, any two of the following:
Daisy: They’re singing.
Berenger: they’re roaring, I tell you.
Daisy: you’re mad; they’re singing
Ans. The exchange between Daisy and Berenger in Eugene Ionesco’s play “Rhinoceros” highlights the stark contrast in perception between the two characters.
The play, written in 1959, is a commentary on the rise of fascism in Europe and the conformity that led to its spread.
The play’s central characters, Berenger and Daisy, struggle to understand and cope with the transformation of their friends and neighbors into rhinoceroses.
In the context of the play, the exchange between Daisy and Berenger occurs after they witness the transformation of another person into a rhinoceros.
Berenger is shocked and appalled by the transformation, but Daisy insists that the rhinoceroses are merely singing, not roaring.
This exchange serves as a metaphor for the larger theme of the play: the difficulty of perceiving reality in a world that is rapidly changing.
At its core, “Rhinoceros” is a critique of conformity and the dangers of groupthink. The rhinoceroses in the play represent the rise of fascism in Europe, and the transformation of Berenger’s friends and neighbors into these creatures is a metaphor for the way in which ordinary people can become swept up in a larger movement and lose their individuality in the process.
The play suggests that the conformity and groupthink that led to the rise of fascism in Europe is a natural human tendency that must be fought against.
The exchange between Daisy and Berenger highlights this theme by showing the way in which people can have vastly different perceptions of reality.
Daisy’s insistence that the rhinoceroses are singing and not roaring shows how easily people can be deceived by their own perceptions.
Her insistence on this point suggests that she is unwilling to accept the reality of what is happening around her and that she is attempting to rationalize the situation.
Berenger’s reaction, on the other hand, highlights the importance of questioning the status quo and not accepting things at face value.
His refusal to accept Daisy’s assertion that the rhinoceroses are singing shows his determination to see things as they really are, rather than as he wishes them to be.
Berenger’s refusal to conform to the groupthink around him is what ultimately sets him apart from his friends and neighbors and allows him to retain his individuality.
The exchange between Daisy and Berenger also highlights the way in which people can become desensitized to the horrors around them.
Daisy’s insistence that the rhinoceroses are singing suggests that she has become numb to the reality of what is happening around her.
Her response is similar to the way in which people can become desensitized to the atrocities of war or to the injustices of a totalitarian regime.
Berenger’s reaction, on the other hand, suggests that it is important to remain sensitive to these realities and to resist becoming desensitized to them.
In terms of the play’s structure, the exchange between Daisy and Berenger occurs early on in the play and serves as a foreshadowing of the larger themes to come.
The play is structured in a series of vignettes that highlight the transformation of Berenger’s friends and neighbors into rhinoceroses.
Each of these vignettes serves as a microcosm of the larger theme of the play, and the exchange between Daisy and Berenger is the first example of this.
The play’s structure is deliberately chaotic and fragmented, reflecting the confusion and disorientation of the characters as they struggle to come to terms with the transformation happening around them.
The play is also notable for its lack of resolution, which leaves the audience with a sense of unease and uncertainty. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
This lack of resolution is deliberate and serves to underscore the play’s larger themes of ambiguity and the difficulty of perceiving reality in a world that is rapidly changing.
II) To win one’s mid-day meal
One needs the toughness which elsewhere builds empires.
Except twelve others be trampled down
The unfortunate cannot be helped.
Ans. The lines “To win one’s mid-day meal, One needs the toughness which elsewhere builds empires. Except twelve others be trampled down, The unfortunate cannot be helped” are from the play “The Good Woman of Setzuan” written by Bertolt Brecht.
The play is set in the fictional city of Setzuan and follows the story of a prostitute named Shen Teh who, after performing a kind deed, receives a gift of money that enables her to start a business.
She attempts to use her newfound wealth to help those in need, but is met with greed and selfishness from the people she tries to help.
The lines in question come from a scene in which Shen Teh, in her male alter ego of Shui Ta, tries to explain to the gods why she had to be tough in order to survive in Setzuan.
The gods have come to Setzuan in search of a good person, and they are having a hard time finding one. Shui Ta is trying to prove that he is a good person, despite his tough exterior.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The first line, “To win one’s mid-day meal, One needs the toughness which elsewhere builds empires,” speaks to the idea that survival in Setzuan requires a certain level of toughness and resilience.
Shen Teh’s experience as a prostitute has taught her that she needs to be tough in order to survive. The line also suggests that toughness is necessary for success, both in Setzuan and in the wider world. The reference to “building empires” suggests that toughness is a quality that is valued in society and that it can lead to success and power.
The next line, “Except twelve others be trampled down, The unfortunate cannot be helped,” is a commentary on the nature of society in Setzuan. The line suggests that in order for one person to succeed, others must be trampled down.
This is a reflection of the harsh economic and social realities of Setzuan, where resources are scarce and competition is fierce.
The line also suggests that the unfortunate cannot be helped unless someone is willing to be tough enough to succeed and then use their success to help others.
The use of the number “twelve” in the line is significant. In many cultures, the number twelve is associated with completeness or perfection. In Christianity, for example, there were twelve apostles.
In astrology, there are twelve signs of the zodiac. The use of the number twelve in this context suggests that the trampling down of others is not just a random occurrence, but a systematic and complete process.
It also suggests that the trampling down of others is necessary for the success of one person, and that this is a fundamental flaw in the way society is structured.
The lines can be interpreted as a criticism of capitalism and the way it values competition and individual success over the well-being of the community.
The idea that in order for one person to succeed, others must be trampled down reflects the way in which capitalism creates winners and losers, with the winners benefiting at the expense of the losers.
The line “The unfortunate cannot be helped” suggests that the capitalist system is unable to provide for those who are less fortunate, and that it is up to individuals to use their success to help others.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
Q 1. Discuss Ghosts as a Problem play.
Ans. Ghosts is a problem play written by Henrik Ibsen in 1881. It addresses the social and moral issues of the time, especially the prevailing Victorian morality and societal norms that were considered hypocritical and oppressive.
The play centers around the Alving family and their secrets and vices, which ultimately lead to their downfall.
The play is considered a problem play because it challenges the norms of society and portrays the consequences of the oppressive attitudes of the time.
The play deals with several themes such as the burden of past mistakes, the pressure to conform to societal norms, the hypocrisy of morality, and the destructive impact of social conventions. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
It is a critique of the patriarchal society of the time, which placed a great deal of pressure on women to conform to societal norms and expectations, often at the expense of their own happiness and well-being.
One of the central themes of the play is the burden of past mistakes. The Alving family is haunted by the sins and secrets of the past, which ultimately lead to their destruction.
The patriarch of the family, Captain Alving, was a womanizer and had an extramarital affair with his maid, resulting in the birth of a son who was raised as his nephew.
Mrs. Alving, his wife, is tormented by the knowledge of her husband’s past indiscretions and the fear of being exposed to society.
The burden of past mistakes is also evident in the character of Oswald, their son, who is afflicted with syphilis, a disease he inherited from his father.
The sins of the past catch up with the characters in the present, and they are unable to escape the consequences of their actions.
Another theme of the play is the pressure to conform to societal norms. The play portrays the rigid societal expectations and conventions that were imposed on individuals in Victorian society, especially women.
Mrs. Alving is a victim of this oppressive attitude, as she is expected to be a dutiful wife and mother and conform to the expectations of her husband and society.
She is not allowed to express her opinions or desires and is forced to live a life of pretense and deception. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The character of Regina, the maid who is Captain Alving’s illegitimate daughter, also reflects this theme. She is forced to live in the shadow of her mother’s past mistakes and is expected to be obedient and subservient to the Alving family.
The play also critiques the hypocrisy of morality in Victorian society. The characters in the play are bound by a rigid moral code, but they fail to live up to these ideals.
Captain Alving, the patriarch of the family, is a prime example of this hypocrisy. He is a respected member of society and is seen as a pillar of morality, but in reality, he is a womanizer who has had extramarital affairs and has fathered a child out of wedlock.
The play exposes the hypocrisy of societal norms and conventions, which are used to maintain the status quo and suppress individual freedom.
The destructive impact of social conventions is another major theme of the play. The characters in the play are confined by social conventions and expectations, which prevent them from being true to themselves and living a fulfilling life.
Mrs. Alving is a victim of these conventions, as she is forced to live a life of pretense and deception to conform to societal expectations.
Regina, the maid, is also a victim of these conventions, as she is forced to live in the shadow of her mother’s past mistakes and is denied the opportunity to pursue her dreams and aspirations.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The play is also a critique of the patriarchal society of the time, which placed a great deal of pressure on women to conform to societal norms and expectations, often at the expense of their own happiness and well-being.
Mrs. Alving is a prime example of the oppression faced Furthermore, the play was written during a time when discussions of taboo topics, such as sexual desires and illnesses, were not acceptable in society.
Ibsen used his play to challenge these social norms and open up conversations about such sensitive topics. He used the character of Oswald to bring to light the issue of hereditary syphilis, a disease that was not widely discussed at the time.
By doing so, Ibsen not only challenged societal norms but also contributed to the spread of awareness about the disease.
In conclusion, Ghosts can be seen as a problem play because it challenges the established norms of society and brings sensitive issues to the forefront.
The play is a critique of the traditional beliefs and values that were prevalent in Ibsen’s time and a commentary on the negative effects of repression and hypocrisy.
Ibsen’s use of realistic characters, their relationships, and the issues they face make the play relatable to audiences even today.
Ghosts is a significant play in the canon of modern drama, and its impact on theatre and society cannot be overstated.
Q 2. Write a detailed note of Characterization in Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan.
Ans. Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan features a wide range of characters, each with their unique personality traits and motivations.
Through the use of distinct techniques of characterization, Brecht creates characters that are more than just individuals in a play but rather symbolic representations of larger societal issues. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
In this note, we will discuss the different techniques of characterization employed in the play, and how they contribute to the overall message of the play.
One of the most prominent techniques of characterization that Brecht uses is the portrayal of characters as types rather than individuals.
Each character in the play represents a specific type of person or group of people, and their actions and dialogue reflect the general characteristics of that group.
For example, Shen Te, the protagonist of the play, represents the oppressed working class, while the gods represent the privileged upper class.
Brecht’s use of types serves to emphasize the class divide in society and how it affects the lives of individuals.
Another technique that Brecht uses is the use of character contradictions. He creates characters that are not consistent in their behavior, beliefs, or motives. For instance, Shen Te is a contradiction herself.
She is kind, generous, and empathetic, but she is also pragmatic and cunning. Brecht uses these contradictions to highlight the complexities of human nature and the internal conflicts that individuals face.
Shen Te’s internal conflict between her desire to be kind and generous and her need to survive in a harsh world is a central theme of the play.
Brecht also uses language and dialogue to characterize his characters. Each character has a distinct voice, and their use of language reflects their personality and their social position. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
For example, the language used by the gods is formal, elegant, and lofty, while the language used by the working-class characters is colloquial and simple.
This use of language reinforces the class divide and highlights the power dynamic between the different groups.
Another technique employed by Brecht is the use of physical appearance to convey a character’s personality. For example, Shen Te’s physical appearance changes when she adopts the persona of Shui Ta, her male alter ego.
This change in appearance symbolizes the change in her personality and behavior, highlighting the role that societal expectations and norms play in shaping individual identity.
Brecht also uses irony and satire to create memorable and complex characters. For instance, the character of Yang Sun is a satirical portrayal of the modern intellectual who is disillusioned with society and has lost faith in humanity.
Yang Sun is also a parody of the romantic hero, with his tragic ending being a reflection of the impracticality of such ideals in the face of societal realities.
Brecht uses these ironic and satirical portrayals to challenge societal norms and expose the hypocrisy of those in power.
Finally, Brecht uses his characters to convey his larger social and political messages. Each character serves a specific purpose in the play and contributes to the overall themes and ideas that Brecht is exploring.
For example, the gods represent the oppressive upper class, while Shen Te represents the oppressed working class.
Brecht uses these characters to highlight the class struggle in society and to challenge the notion that the wealthy are inherently more moral or virtuous than the poor.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
Another significant character in the play is the water seller, who represents the working class struggling to make a living.
He is a man with a tough exterior but a soft heart, as he helps Shen Te when she is in need, but at the same time, he is skeptical of her kindness and questions her motives.
Through the water seller, Brecht highlights the class divide in society and the exploitation of the working class by the rich and powerful.
Wang, the unemployed pilot, is another character who represents the struggles of the working class.
He is unable to find a job and is constantly on the move in search of work. His character highlights the impact of unemployment on individuals and their desperation to make ends meet.
However, his lack of ambition and drive also show the pitfalls of relying solely on others to help oneself.
The characters of Shen Te and Shui Ta also represent the duality of human nature. Shen Te is kind-hearted and selfless, but her generosity and naivety make her vulnerable to exploitation.
Shui Ta, on the other hand, is practical and ruthless, ensuring that Shen Te’s kindness is not taken advantage of. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
The contrast between the two characters shows the complex nature of human beings and the need for both kindness and practicality.
Overall, Brecht’s use of characterization in The Good Woman of Szechuan highlights the issues of class divide, the impact of poverty and unemployment on individuals, and the duality of human nature.
Each character represents a different aspect of society, and their interactions with each other serve to expose the flaws and inequalities of society.
Brecht’s focus on creating characters that are representative of broader societal issues and conflicts is a key characteristic of his style of Epic Theatre.
Q 3. Discuss the effects of the French Revolution and the Romantic Movement on Realism and Naturalism.
Ans. The French Revolution and the Romantic Movement were two pivotal events in European history that had significant impacts on literary movements that followed.
The French Revolution, with its emphasis on individual rights and equality, had a profound impact on literature, leading to the development of Realism and Naturalism in the nineteenth century.
Similarly, the Romantic Movement, which emphasized emotions and individualism, also had a significant influence on these movements.
The French Revolution had a profound impact on literature and the arts in Europe. It led to a shift in focus from the aristocracy to the middle and lower classes, and this shift was reflected in literature. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
Realism, which emerged in the mid-nineteenth century, was characterized by a focus on the ordinary, the everyday, and the lives of common people.
This movement rejected the idealized representations of reality found in earlier literature and instead sought to present life as it was, in all its harshness and complexity.
The French Revolution had a significant influence on Realism, as it challenged traditional authority and power structures.
Realist writers sought to portray society in a way that was truthful and objective, and they often focused on social issues such as poverty, inequality, and the struggle for political power.
Realist writers like Gustave Flaubert and Émile Zola were known for their detailed descriptions of everyday life, and their works often critiqued the social and political systems of their time.
Similarly, the Romantic Movement, which emerged in the late eighteenth century, also had a significant impact on Realism and Naturalism.
The Romantic Movement emphasized individualism, emotion, and imagination, and it rejected the ideals of the Enlightenment.
The Romantic writers sought to create works that were emotive and expressive, and they often used vivid imagery and metaphor to convey their ideas.
The Romantic Movement had a significant influence on Realism and Naturalism, as it encouraged writers to focus on the individual and the emotions.
Realist and Naturalist writers often sought to explore the inner lives of their characters, and they used the techniques of the Romantic writers to create works that were emotionally expressive and imaginative.
This is particularly evident in the works of writers such as Charles Dickens, who used vivid descriptions and powerful imagery to create works that were both realistic and emotive.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
Naturalism, which emerged in the late nineteenth century, was characterized by a focus on the scientific and the objective.
Naturalist writers sought to portray reality as it was, and they often used scientific techniques to create works that were detailed and precise.
Naturalism was heavily influenced by the developments in science and philosophy that occurred in the late nineteenth century, and it sought to apply scientific principles to the study of human behavior and society.
The French Revolution and the Romantic Movement had a significant impact on Naturalism, as they challenged traditional modes of thought and encouraged writers to explore new ways of understanding the world.
Naturalist writers like Émile Zola and Stephen Crane were known for their detailed descriptions of the physical and social environments in which their characters lived, and their works often explored issues such as poverty, crime, and the struggles of the working class.BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
Furthermore, the Romantic movement focused on the individual and their emotions, which was reflected in their literature.
The Romantic poets, such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, were concerned with the individual’s relationship with nature and their inner selves.
This focus on the individual and their emotions was carried over into the Realist and Naturalist movements.
Realism emerged as a reaction against the Romantic movement, which was seen as too idealistic and concerned with emotions and imagination rather than reality.
Realism focused on the objective representation of reality and rejected idealism and romanticism.
This movement was also influenced by the French Revolution, which emphasized the importance of equality and democracy, and the Industrial Revolution, which brought about significant changes in society and the economy.
In literature, Realism sought to represent ordinary people and their everyday lives. The Realist writers aimed to depict the world accurately and objectively, without any idealization or romanticization.
They often focused on social issues such as poverty, class, and gender inequality. Realist writers included Gustave Flaubert in France, Fyodor Dostoevsky in Russia, and William Dean Howells in the United States.
Naturalism, on the other hand, was a more extreme form of Realism. It aimed to show how environment and social conditions could shape and determine human behavior. BEGC 113 Solved Free Assignment 2023
Naturalist writers often depicted characters who were trapped by their social and environmental circumstances. They also portrayed the harsh realities of life, including poverty, violence, and disease.
Naturalist writers included Emile Zola in France, Stephen Crane in the United States, and Thomas Hardy in England.
In conclusion, the French Revolution and the Romantic movement had a significant impact on the development of Realism and Naturalism.
The emphasis on equality, democracy, and the individual in the French Revolution influenced the Realist and Naturalist focus on ordinary people and their everyday lives.
The Romantic emphasis on the individual and their emotions was carried over into the Realist and Naturalist movements.
Realism rejected idealism and romanticism and focused on the objective representation of reality.
Naturalism was a more extreme form of Realism that focused on how environment and social conditions could shape and determine human behavior.