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 Title Page
 Acknowledgement
 Table of Contents
 Modern adaptations of greek...
 Peman's role in contemporary spanish...
 Three visions of antigone
 Electra from four contemporary...
 Peman's version of thyestes
 Conclusion
 Bibliography
 Biographical sketch
 Copyright














Title: Themes of Greek legend in the theatre of Jose María Pemán and his contemporaries,
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Acknowledgement
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    Table of Contents
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    Modern adaptations of greek tragedies
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    Peman's role in contemporary spanish theatre
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    Three visions of antigone
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    Electra from four contemporary points of view
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    Peman's version of thyestes
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    Conclusion
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        Page 125
    Bibliography
        Page 126
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        Page 128
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        Page 130
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 132
        Page 133
    Copyright
        Copyright
Full Text
THEMES OF GREEK LEGEND IN THE THEATRE OF JOSE MARIA PEMAN AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
By
PHYLLIS JEAN ZATLIN
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA June, 1962


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author wishes to express her sincere appreciation and thanks to her committee chairman, Dr. Francis C. Hayes, for the time-consuming task of reading and correcting the original draft of this thesis, and to Dr. Maxwell VIallace, Prof. Pedro Villa Fernandez, and Dr. John E. Hall for their helpful suggestions on reference material and content of this paper.
ii


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter Page
I. MODERN ADAPTATIONS OF GREEK TRAGEDIES......... 1
II. PEMAN'S ROLE IN CONTEMPORARY SPANISH THEATRE ..... 11
III. THREE VERSIONS OF ANTIGONE.............. 30
IV. ELECTRA FROM FOUR CONTEMPORARY POINTS OF VIEW..... U
V. OEDIPUS ON THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE........... 89
VI. PEMAN'S VERSION OF THYESTES.............. llU
CONCLUSION.......................... 123
BIBLIOGRAPHY......................... 126
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...................... 132
iii


CHAPTER I
MODERN ADAPTATIONS OF GREEK TRAGEDIES
Belonging to the cultural heritage of all Western nations, the Greek tragedies over the centuries have wielded a considerable influence on the development of literature. The Renaissance rediscovered the beauty of the ancient masterpieces, and writers of many countries set out to imitate them or at least to modernize them for their own contemporary audiences. The seventeenth century French theatre in particular became noted for its great interest in Greek form and themes, but other countries and other eras have also demonstrated a considerable debt to the Greek tragedies. Even the romantic movement, which rebelled against the rigid forms of neo-classicism, did not ignore the literature of Ancient Greece.1 The romanticists, however, interpreted classicism differently from the neo-classicistsj the latter saw in the literature of antiquity the "Apollonian serenity, plasticity, and clarity," while romantic writers "tended to emphasize the Dionysian frenzy, mystery, and dark complexity. "2 Later Nietzsche and other post-romantic writers interpreted Greek literature as a combination of Dionysian ecstacy and Apollonian restraint.3
If romanticism did not completely ignore Greek mythology and
klf. Werner P. Friederich, Outline of Comparative Literature from Dante Alighieri to Eugene O'Neill (Chapel Hill, 195U), pp. 29k-98.
2Ibid., p. 3I1I. 3ibid.
1


literature, it certainly did de-emphasize the importance of antiquity. Then the naturalistic movement in the theatre temporarily pushed aside entirely the example of Greek classicism, but the twentieth century has witnessed a rebirth of interest in Greek tragic themes throughout the Western world. French playwrights have outnumbered those of other countries in this trend, but Spanish, English, Irish, American, German, and Austrian drama are also represented. At least one critic finds in todays theatre as strong a filiation to Greek tragedy as in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.^
The annals of theatre history are filled with references to plays that from 1600 to the present day have been drawn from Athenian masterpieces. No doubt the particular themes that have inspired the greatest number of playwrights have been the myths of Oedipus, Electra, and Antigone. All three great writers of Greek tragedy, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, treated the legend of Electra and Orestes, while, in extant plays, Sophocles alone dramatized the tragic tales of Oedipus and Antigone. Perhaps the first reworking of the Sophoclean Oedipus Tyrannus was that of the Roman Seneca, who departed greatly and without favorable results from the Greek model. In more recent times, the Oedipus myth has been dramatized by the French writers Oorneille, La Motte, and Voltairej the English writer Drydenj the Spanish writers Montengon y Paret and Martinez de la Rosa; and the Italian writer Niccolini. The tragedy of Antigone was treated in seventeenth century France by Rotrou, in eighteenth century Italy by Alfieri, and in Spain by Montengon y Paret. Early in the eighteenth
iThierry Maulnier, "Greek Myth, a Source of Inspiration for Dramatists," World Theatre. 71 (winter, 1957), 291.


century, the French playwright Cre*billon created an Electra; and, in 1820, Monteng6n y Paret brought to the Spanish stage his Egisto Clitemnestra, also inspired by the tragic legend of the house of Atreus.
Francisco Martinez de la Rosa, whose Edipo of 1829 is considered by most critics to be among Spain's greatest tragedies, left to posterity an admirable study of the defects of previous modernizations of the Oedipus legend and an explanation of the changes he himself chose to make. The Spanish playwright quotes Voltaire as commenting that the ancient tragedy simply does not supply enough material for a full-length modern playj the adapter is compelled to add extraneous incidents to stretch the Greek legend.-1- Corneille, recognizing the same problem as did Voltaire, broke the unity of his version, Oedipe (1659), by including the love story of Theseus and a daughter of Laius. Voltaire criticized Corneille for this structural error, but, as Martinez de la Rosa points out, Voltaire committed the same sin.2 His Oedipe (1718) introduces Philoctetes, a former lover of Jocasta.
In continuing his criticism of other Oedipus plays, Martinez de la Rosa explains that Dryden's English audience demanded a subplot, and thus Dryden, too, was forced into destroying the unity of action of his play.3 in Dryden* s tragedy, Eurydice, daughter of Laius, loves Adrasto but is sought after by the powerful Creon. Creon, hunchbacked and deformed, greatly resembles Shakespeare's Richard Hl.^
Fully aware of the lasting value of the Oedipus legend, Martinez de la Rosa predicted that it would always arouse the most vivid feelings
l"Advertenciaw to Edipo (Paris, 1829), p. 6. 2Ibid., p. 19. 3lbid., p. 35. %bid.


h
in the hearts of the spectators.1 In his own dramatic version of the Greek myth, rather than adding extra elements as had his predecessors, he further simplified the Sophoclean plot by completely eliminating the character of Creon and the possibility of a Creon-Teiresias conspiracy. Teiresias is replaced by a high priest, the death of Laius is changed, putting Oedipus entirely in the wrong, and a period of time elapses between the two fatal revelations of the messenger from Corinth, but essentially Martinez de la Rosa modeled his work after the original tragedy. The result is a powerful drama, well deserving the praise given it by Spanish critics.
This Spanish Edipo marks the end of direct classical influence in the theatre until the end of the century when realists and symbolists turned once again to the themes and legends of antiquity. "May we not see in this return to the concepts of Greek tragedy one of the most potent forces in the theatre of our age?" asks one critic,** and, indeed, the number of twentieth century playwrights inspired by Greek models is astonishing. A partial list of such playwrights includes Gerhart Hauptraann, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Max Mell, W. B. Teats, T. S. Eliot, Robinson Jeffers, Robert Turney, Eugene 0Weill, Andre Obey, Josephe Peladan, Jean Cocteau, Andre Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Anouilh, and Josl Mara Peman. Even Tennessee Williams might be mentioned because of his Orpheus Descending in which the modern Orpheus, guitar-playing Val Xavier, descends into the Hades of a small Southern
%bid., p. 6.
2Allardyce Nicoll, World Drama from Aeschylus to Anouilh (New York, 19k9), p. 917. :


town.1 At least two critics erroneously include Benito Perez Galdos in similar lists because of his play entitled Electra (1901);2 however, this Spanish play should in no sense be considered a modernization of Greek tragedy.
The theme of Greek tragedy has also appeared in twentieth century opera. Richard Strauss in the first decade of the century presented operas based on von Hofmannsthal's versions of Oedipus and Electra. Carl Orff made an opera from HcJlderlin's adaptation of Antigone, and Cocteau's plays have supplied librettos for Honegger's Antigone and Stravinsky's opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex.
Perhaps the most recent modern dramatization of a Greek tragedy is the Haitian version of Antigone produced in the Creole dialect three or four years ago. The comments of theatre manager Morisseau-Leroy about the decision to present Antigone in Haiti emphasize the continued vitality of the Greek tragic themes. He calls Sophocles1 play a shining example of universal literature that is quite suitable for adaptation in popular languages.^ The classics should be brought up to date for the people, he feels; they should not be given as school exercises, but rather should reflect current everyday problems.^
Why have twentieth century playwrights turned once again for inspiration to the Greek tragedies, and what does this contemporary
Ijohn Gassner, Theatre at the Crossroads (New York, I960), p. 22ii.
2Edwin Engel, The Haunted Heroes of Eugene O'Neill (Cambridge, Mass., 1953), p. 2hl, and Friederich, op. cii., p.-3U2.
Morisseau-Ieroy, "Antigone in Creole," World Theatre, VIII (winter, 1959-60), 292.
Ulbid., p. 295.


trend of various nations indicate? To a great degree, the beginning of the movement may be connected with the desire in the early years of the century to break away from naturalism in the theatre. Eric Bentley points out that what Yeats, Eliot, Cocteau, Obey, and Lorca all have in common is this hostility to the nineteenth century naturalistic play.-*- It is significant that of these playwrights, only Eorca did not present a modernisation of Greek tragedy. Symbolists and surrealists found that the ancient myths afforded them the freedom needed to utilize their favorite techniques. Cocteau, for example, in trying for theatrical effect "attempted to de-emphasize both the suspense of 'what happens next,' the characteristic of narrative, and the color of imagery, the characteristic of poetry."2 Tne familiar legends gave him an excellent opportunity to supress suspense, and modern psychology offered him the chance to introduce symbolism. Indeed, much of the recent popularity of the Greek tragedies may be attributed to psychoanalysis, to Freud's naming of complexes after ancient myths. Hofmannsthal, who, if Perez Galdos is discounted, should be considered the first major playwright to create a twentieth century modernization of the Greek tragedies, clearly showed his knowledge of Freud.
Hofmannsthal's Greeks are "modern" human beings, oversensitive, high-strung, hysterical. Wrapped in an atmosphere of terror, haunted by a horrid and incomprehensible fate, driven by
1The Playwright as Thinker (New York, 1U6), p. 222.
2Alan S. Downer (ed.), Twenty-Five Modern Plays (3rd ed.j New York, 1953), p. 8I4I.


violent passions of love and hatred, they often resemble neurotics of our own day.1
Certainly 0 Weill *s Mourning Becomes Electra also demonstrates the
psychological interpretation a modern playwright can give to the
ancient myth.
These writers and many of their contemporaries were seeking
to find a replacement for realistic dramatizations of day to day
living. The Oedipus complex for them was an aspect of humanity, and
the psychoanalytical tragedies they could develop on this and similar
themes had universal implications not to be found in most realistic
problem plays.2
By finding inspiration in some of the most powerful myths of the human races they are once more bringing upon the stage the whole long pageant of humanity, instead of merely offering peep show views of domestic interiors decorated with modern furniture and fashioned with ideas of merely temporary significance.3
The themes of Greek tragedy have an undeniable universality, and, when one realizes that the Western theatre today is becoming more and more international, it is readily apparent why so many playwrights have chosen to adapt ancient legends, to draw upon our common cultural heritage. The contemporary world theatre is witnessing a tremendous wave of translations; French and American plays are produced in Spain, English and American plays are presented in France, French plays are staged on Broadway. Individual playwrights cross national boundaries without aid of translators; Samuel Beckett, for
lHenry Schnitzler, "Austria" in A History of Modern Drama, ed. Barrett Clark and George Freedley. (New^Iork, 19k77 P 130.
2Downer, op_. cit., p. 81*2. 3Nicoll, o, cit., p. 918.


example, writes in both English and French, A certain universality replaces local color, and movies, exported on a large scale, help precipitate the "crumbling of national traditions."1 "This evolution inevitably leads the theatre to migrate from the concrete to the abstract,"2 emphasizes Madariaga, giving another reason for the contemporary theatrical interest in symbolism and surrealism.
Critic Allardyce Nicoll sees in the contemporary theatre a "vogue of historical drama."3 By having the plot already supplied, the author may turn his imagination loose on other aspects of his play. By choosing an historical setting, he can place enough distance between his spectators and the theatrical action to approach tragedy; these same motives may lead the playwright to choose an ancient legend.^ The same playwright may seek inspiration in historical, Biblical, or mythical themes. Giraudoux turns to the Bible and to Greek legend. OWeill combines a Civil War setting and the Electra story. Anouilh dramatizes Joan of Arc as well as Antigone. Pem&n, who started out with historical drama, later became inspired by Greek myths, giving to the Spanish stage "la vuelta a la tragedia griega, en las adapta-clones bellamente realizadas de Electra y Edipo."^ In a sense, therefore, the recent surge of adaptations of the ancient tragedies belongs to the rebirth of interest in historical plays as much as to the symbolist and surrealist movements.
ISalvador de Madariaga, "The Theatre of To-Day," World Theatre, III (winter, 1953), 5. . "
2Ibid. 3Nicoll, o. cit., p. 855. ^Ibld., p. 857.
5Angel Valbuena Prat, Historia del teatro espanol (Barcelona, 1956), p. 658. '-----...


"Whenever a playwright has particularly strong designs on fame he exhumes the Electra theme of classic antiquity and makes something more or less new out of it," John Gassner has commented somewhat sardonically. But the eternal appeal of the Greek tragedies is not quite that simple. Maulnier has explained the continued vitality of Greek legend this way: "Farce qufelle a mis sur le theatre non des individus, mais des figures, non des caracteres, mais des destins, la tragldie grecque a laissl a ses hlros, qu*aucun cerne ne limite, des possibility illimite*es de developpement."2 The characters presented in the Greek tragedies are flexible, ever open to new inter-pretations. Shakespeare may have exhausted Hamlet, but Oedipus is an archetype. Only the legends of Faust and Don Juan in more recent times have demonstrated a comparable universality and vitality.
Because the twentieth century has shown such a renewed interest in the Greek tragedies and because these tragedies may be adapted in as many different ways as there are playwrights, this thesis will endeavor to study a selected group of modernized versions of Greek myths. The study is centered on Josl Mara Feman, contemporary Spanish author and poet who began adapting the ancient tragedies when the movement was already losing momentum in other countries. In \9hS he staged Antgona; in 19h9f Electra; and in 1953, Edipo. To be compared with these three modern reworkings of the tragedies are earlier versions of the same plays by O'Neill, Cocteau, Gide, Giraudoux, Sartre, and Anouilh. Also to be discussed is Feman*s Tyestes (1956), a new
JThe Theatre in Our Times (New Xork, 195U), p. 257. 2Maulnier,,loc. cit., p, 290. 3ibid.


and free version of the classic myth; the tragic legend of Thyestes was treated by Crlbillon in 1707 and by Foscolo in 1797, as well as by Seneca, but Peman is the first contemporary playwright to handle the theme. This study is intended to show how these plays belong to certain trends of the contemporary world theatre and how they differ among themselves.
The critics vary greatly in their opinions of the literary and
theatrical value of modern adaptations of Greek tragedies. Bentley
feels that the writers have not lent enough of their own originality
to these plays and that tragic characters in modern dress are not over
i
life size and therefore can arouse no admiration or terror. less critical of defects, Nicoll finds that "among the most impressive of modern plays are those in which the authors, instead of inventing new plots, have taken their themes from their predecessors."2 No doubt all of the critics, however, would agree with Maulnier, who has noted that the "return to Greek tragedy may be a passing fashion, but it will leave its mark on theatre history."3
%lric Bentley, In Search of Theater (New York, 1953), pp. 2hk-k5. Nicoll, o. eit., p. 931. ^Maulnier, loc. cit., p. 292.


CHAPTER II
PEMAN'S ROLE IN CONTEMPORARY SPANISH THEATRE
Poet, essayist, playwright, and orator, Jose* Mara Peman is unquestionably one of the most versatile and prolific of contemporary Spanish writers. Like Cocteau in France, he seems to be a jack-of-all-arts, even having collaborated on operas. The fecundity of the writer can easily be seen with a glance at the five-volume edition of his Obras Oompletas that Escelicer began publishing somewhat prematurely fifteen years ago. The volume of poetry (I9k7) contains some 1300 pages; the volume of novels and stories (1U8), 1250 pages; narrations and essays (19U9), more than 1300 pages; theatre (1950), 2100 pages; and doctrine and oratory (1953), 1800 pagesa grand total of almost 8000 pages of small print. Peman* s pen has by no means been idle since the publication of these volumes; in the season 1951-52 alone, he staged five new plays, and each new season since then has included premilres of Peman1 s works. That the quality of Peman*s theatre has suffered as a consequence of the quantity is pointed out by many critics.
In a country where prolific writers have certainly not been rare, Pemiin*s extraordinary fecundity does not seem so unusual as it might elsewhere. Nevertheless, it would seem fitting to compare him with that great "monster of nature," Lope de Vega. Entrambasaguas does
11


just this, but not merely because of the parallel quantity of writing,
Lope*s biographer sees in Peman a modern equivalent of the Golden Age
dramatist for other reasons. Both are sensitive poets. Both have
appealed to the masses by creating an entertaining theatre and a theatre
aimed at patriotic Catholic Spaniards, Peman, according to Entram-
basaguas, has learned from Lope the path to success.
Salvando distancias de todas suertes, Lope de Vega y Peman respon-den a una raisma actitud ante la creacion dramatica y en ellos se da identico fen6meno literario e ideologic, tal vez, por ciertas afinidades.de los tiempos gue vivieron, de indiscutible desorientaci6"n del destino de Espana, ante la cual reaccionaron por impulso espontaneo de su alma, a menudo casi inconsciente, y con el ansia triunfal de su poesla.-1-
"While the critics find that "many of his plays are second rate"2
and that Peman is "a man of minor talent, however charming,"3 Peman
has enjoyed continued popularity in Spain. None of his plays have ever
been great successes, but neither have any of them ever completely
failed, "Peman es, por muchos conceptos, el escritor actual residente
en Espana, que ha conocido mas de cerca el exito popular y que goza
de la mas amplia e indiscutible reputacio'n."^ At worst, he has been
accused of lacking originality and of sacrificing his talents to appeal
to the public; no one questions either his ability as a craftsman or
Ijoaqufn de Entrambasaguas, "Prologo" to Obras Completas of Jos! Maria Peman, -Vol. IV (Madrid, 1950), p. 2*9.
^Jack Horace Parker, Breve historia del teatro espanol (Mexico, 1957), p. 165. \
^Mildred Adams, "Spain and Spanish America" in A History of Modern Drama, ed. Clark and Freedley, p. 569. ~
kionzalo Torrente Ballester, Literatura espanola contemporanea, 1898-1-936 (Madrid19U9.), p. 39h. '--


his stylistic mastery of the Spanish language. Both his poetry and his prose are of such quality that even those who take the dimmest view of his literary achievements cannot ignore their beauty. "Porque Jose Maria Peman, queramos o no queramos, es un gran escritor."1
Born in Cadiz on May 8, 1897,2 Peman began writing poetry at an early age and achieved a reputation as a poet and orator before writing for the stage. He studied law at the University of Sevilla, received his doctorate at Madrid, but never practiced law. His reading, which he feels had a great influence on his early writings, included the classic literature of Greece and Rome, the Spanish theatre of the Golden Age, Amadis de Gaula, and the works of Fray Luis de Granada.3 His early poetry drew inspiration from neo-classicism, modernism, and from regional Andalusian poetry.^
In 1923 Peman published his first book, De la vida sencilla, a collection of poetry. This publication was followed rapidly by more poetry, novels, and dramas. Although not a journalist, Peman began contributing articles of criticism and political views to newspapers and magazines in Spain and Latin America. Later, in 19ltl, he traveled in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru and came to be considered one of the Spaniards best acquainted with the Latin American soul.5 in 1935
^Luis Calvo, "Critica" in Teatro espanol, 1951-52, ed. Federico Carlos Sainz de Robles.(Madrid, 1953), p. 355.
2Peman gives this as his birthdate in his "Confesion general," Obras completas. Vol. I (Madrid, 19^7), p. 11. A number.of sources.we investigated gave 1898 as the year of his birth.
3Ibid., p. 19. klbid., pp. 2U, 30.
5jose Maria de Areilza, "Prologo" to Peman's Obras completas, Vol. V (Madrid, 1953), p. 15. -


Peman was awarded the Premio Mariano de Cavia for the best newspaper article to appear in Spain. In the same year, he also received the Premio Espinosa Cortina for the best dramatic work of 1929-33 and was unanimously elected to membership in the Real Academia Espanola. He subsequently served as the director of the Academy from 1938 to 19^6.1 Peman himself has pointed out that his native Cadis is a land of orators,2 and Torrente Ballester senses that the writer prefers the title of orator to that of poet, essayist, or dramatist.3 Certainly the ideas he has expressed in his speeches have aroused discussion. Raised with a traditional and conservative view of Catholicism and monarchy, he had a difficult time understanding the revolution in Spain^ but managed to adjust to the Franco regime as other writers of the so-called "generation of 1920-36," notably Garcia Lorca, Alejandro Casona, and Jacinto Grau did not. With the exception of the play Edipo, Torrente Ballester finds Peman's best writing in his essays and in his narratives, such as "Cuentos sin importancia" and "Romance del Fantasma y dona Juanita."-' However, Peman's greatest fame has come in the theatre where he still holds his own among younger playwrights. In 1950 he received the 100,000 peseta Premio Pujal for dramatic works and in 1957, the 500,000 peseta Fundacion March prize.
iFederico Carlos Sainz de Robles, Ensayo de un diccionario de la literatura, Vol. II (2nd ed.j Madrid, 1953), p."839. The International Who's Who, 1961-62 (London, 196l), p. 756, lists Peman's directorship of the Academy as 1939-1*2 and 19U7-50.
Peman, "Confesion general,1' p. 16.
3Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Panorama de la literatura espanola contemporanea (Madrid, 1956), p. 367.
^Areilza, op_. ext., p. 13.
-^Literatura espanola contemporanea . p. 396.


In 195U a poll of public opinion revealed Peman as one of the two best writers of that year.-*- Although Peman has not filled the gap left in the Spanish theatre by the death of Lorca and the exile of Casona, he has managed to produce plays of more or less consistent quality that have merited the continued applause of the Spanish public.
The contemporary Spanish theatre is certainly not lacking either in playwrights or in abundance of new workel produced each year, but any discussion of the Spanish stage usually begins with a comment on decadence, on the literary and economic crisis in the theatre. The more optimistic critics have forecast a theatrical restoration. Entram-basaguas sees such a restoration or revitalization beginning before the war and reaching its peak in 1950.2 Gonzalez Ruiz feels that a twenty-year crisis was reaching its conclusion in the late 19kO's.3 Less optimistic, Castellano detects neither a noticeable restoration nor a real decadence, but rather an abundant theatre that produces no masterpieces.^ The abundance clearly cannot be denied; in 195U alone there were 2h3 entries for the Lope de Vega prize.? But Castellano explains that everyone tries writing plays because the theatre offers the greatest literary profit and because the government donates
lAlberta Wilson Server, "Notes on the Contemporary Drama in Spain," Hispania, XLII (1959),57.
P -
'Entrambasaguas, ojd. cit., p. 12.
%icolas Gonzalez Ruiz, La cultura espanola en los ultimos veinte anost kjl teatro ("Coleccion hombres e ideas"; Madrid, 19^9), p. 557
kjuan R. Castellano, "Estado actual del teatro espanol," Hispania, XEI (1958), U32, U3U. .'
5
Server, loc. cit., p. 56.


generous prizes.1 Quantity does not indicate quality, and even prize-winning plays may be of dubious merit. Although Spain has been undergoing a more obvious theatre crisis than other nations, some critics find that similar problems exist throughout the world and that Spain's decadent stage may be attributed at least in part to the more general trend. "El estado 'mecanico' del mundo de mediados del siglo XX no se presta a los requerimientos de la escena seria y valiosa, los cuales son el tiempo, el interes, la comprension."2
In the early years of the present century, the Spanish stage enjoyed one of its most active and productive periods. Such playwrights as Nobel Prize winner Jacinto Benavente, Martinez Sierra, and the brothers Alvarez Quintero attracted world-wide attention. The Spanish theatre boasted of many excellent artists and authors, but gradually they began to disappear from the scene and few people of equal merit came to take their places. Benavente continued to write and dominate the stage although his work after 1920 was of noticeably inferior quality. From 1920 to 19UU, he produced 1*8 new plays.^ As late as the 1953-51; season, the octagenarian playwright was still producing.^ Both Lorca and Casona had tried to rebel against the "realism of the commercialized middle-class theatre,"-* but Benavente
1"EL teatro espanol desde 1939," Hispania, XXXIV (1951), 2l.O. barker, o. clt., p. 198.
Jeronimo Mallo, "La produccion teatral de Jacinto Benavente desde 1920," Hispania, XXXIV (1951), 22.
^Doris K, Arjona, "The Spanish Theatre of Today," Educational Theatre Journal, XI (Dec, 1959), 266. .,
*Ibid.


still dominated the boards when Lorca was killed and Gasona exiled in 1936. From that time until 1957, no plays of Casona were staged in Spain and only one play of Lorca.1 The Lorca play, La casa de Bernarda Alba, was produced in 1950 at a private club, La Caratula, in order to avoid censorship. The 1960-61 season in Madrid, however, saw Lorca once again staged in the public theatre.
From 1939 to \9hS, two or three writers of sociological rather than literary interest controlled the Spanish theatre.2 Many of the playwrights who were producing then and still are producing belong, not to the new generation of 1939, but rather to the generation, of 1920-36: Peman, Jardiel Poncela, Joaquin Galvo Sotelo, Suarez de Deza, Agustin Foxa, and Luca de Tena.3 Among these, Calvo Sotelo has had the most notable success with his La muralla, a play presented during the 195k-55 season; in spite of its daring theme that somehow slipped past the censors and its post-war record-breaking run of 2500 performances, the play is not highly regarded by many critics.
From the younger generation, Torrente Ballester selects Antonio Buero Vallejo and Alfonso Sastre as the playwrights of most promise.^ Buero Vallejo achieved overnight fame in 19I+9-50 for his Historia de una escalera, and Sastre is noted for his theatre of anguish. Also included among the better-known younger writers are Victor Ruiz Iriarte, a follower of Casona; Jose Lopez Rubio, poetic humorist; Miguel
llbid.
o
^Torrente Ballester, Panorama de la literatura ? . p. 1*65. ^Castellano, "El teatro espanol desde 1939," p. 2I4I. ^Panorama de la literatura . p. 1*71


Mihura, surrealistic humorist; Edgar Neville, sentimental humorist.
In general, the most successful plays in Spain today are those that
are pure entertainment and not serious theatre. The Spanish theatre,
unlike that of other nations, seems unaware of world political problems
and is more concerned with the individual. Perhaps for this reason,
Peman has stated that the Spanish theatre is separated from the world
-i
theatre and is just as far from Anouilh as it was from Racine "Entonces nuestro publico no nos dejaba ser educados y encogidos como Paris: ahora no nos deja ser ineducados, angustiosos y tremendos como el mundo."2
Foreign influence in the contemporary Spanish theatre is, however, one of its outstanding characteristics; for here, as elsewhere, French and American authors in particular are leading the way as world drama becomes internationalized. Anouilh is the most produced foreign playwright in Spain. Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and William Saroyan set a standard for the younger generation in Spain. Pirandello, Cocteau, Giraudoux, Salacrou, Priestley, Coward, ELiot, and Wilder are also produced and influence the young intellectual. In the period from 19h9 to 1956, ten plays of Anouilh, five of O'Neill, and two each of Saroyan, Wilder, Williams, Claudel, and Montherlant were translated, adapted, and produced in Spain. I Peman interprets the artistic and economic success of these foreign
iPeman, "Dos teatros," Obras Sompletas, Vol. V (Madrid, 1953), p. 1175. - .
2Ibld., p. 1176.
^Arjona, loc. cit., p. 267.


plays as an indication that the theatre is not in a complete state of crisis.1 But the foreign plays are usually produced in experimental theatres and do not reach more than a small minority of the public.
The experimental theatre--teatro de camarain Spain manages to produce foreign plays and efforts of young Spanish writers. It is here that the intellectual playwright can be heard, Peman notes. Some of these theatres are organized as private clubs to avoid censorship. The government has recognized the importance of these experimental theatres and has arranged to subsidize them. In 195k the Teatro Nacional de Camara y Ensayo was created to stage foreign and Spanish plays that could not be handled in commercial theatres. Following the war, the government had previously established in Madrid two nationally subsidized theatres, the Teatro Espanol and the Teatro Maria Guerrero. These theatres have brought to the Spanish public excellent productions of world classics, both from the past and from the present day/ One of the major drama prizes in Spain promises the annual winner a production of his play in a national theatre. In this way, Spain is trying to raise the theatrical level above that of the non-literary spectacle that abounds in the privately-owned commercial theatres.
In spite of these encouraging indications, the Spanish stage is faced with many problems. The economic factor is particularly pressing; each year theatres are closed or turned into movie houses because the public simply does not wish or cannot afford to support them. Farces
l-Peman, "Teatro," Obras completas, Vol. V, p. 1179.


and musicals of slight literary value can compete with motion pictures
for an audience, but serious drama suffers. Actors work on a killing
schedule of two performances a day, seven days a week, trying to show 1
a profit. Often theatre managers are only amateur businessmen and
therefore lack the knowledge to solve their financial problems. They
are taxed in their theatres according to seating capacity, not by the
number of tickets sold, and empty seats are doubly harmful. The idea
of smaller theatres with permanent companies has been suggested as the
only solution to the economic dilemma. The competition with the
lower-priced movies has proved such a losing battle for the legitimate
theatre that traveling companies in the provinces find they cannot
stage plays on weekends because theatre managers run films on Saturday 3
and Sunday. Not only movies, but bridge and cocktail parties as well
, k
have become the real enemies of the theatre, according to Peman.
Always lurking behind the scenes, deterring the playwright and the producer in their artistic endeavors, is the censorship board. No theatre open to the public can escape from this ever present authority. Many prize-winning plays with daring themes are not produced for this reason or are relegated to a teatro de camara.When J03!
'-Cyrus C DeCoster, "The Theatrical Season in Madrid, 195H-55," Hispania, XXXIX (1956), 182.
2Edwin J. Webber, "The 'Problem' of the Spanish Theater Today," Hispania, XXXIX (1956), 65. -. -
^Castellano, "Los premios nacionales de teatro en Espana," Hispania, XXXVUI (1955), 291.
%eman, "Teatro," p. 1180.
-^Castellano, "Los premios nacionales . ," p. 292.


Maria Da Quinto and Jose Gordon formed the private theatre club La
Caratula in 19k9 to avoid censorship, they felt that a small window
1
had opened out on the world. Following their production of La casa ^e Bernarda Alba, however, the censor ruled that no reviews could be printed of their plays. "The Bernardas of Spain have the last word. The window is closed once more," Da Quinto commented. Foreign plays must be adapted, often drastically, to satisfy the censor; sex, and particularly sexual abnormalities, have been considered in most cases as taboo, and marriage is a subject to be treated seriously.3 The significance of this rigid censorship cannot be discounted in studying the contemporary Spanish stage.
Perhaps the most difficult shortcoming to remedy is the lack of public enthusiasm for the theatre. The public will go to see daring and unusual plays, but these come more often from foreign writers than from the Spanish. The spark of enthusiasm from the audience needed to encourage the playwright thus far seems to be missing. French critics, Peman remarks, seem to criticize individual plays instead of condemning the collective output of the country as do the Spaniards.^ There is too much talk about the theatre crisis and not enough constructive action. "EL teatro florecera," he predicts. "Hay que contagiar al publico de esa certeza y de ese entusiasmo para que colabore tambien."
What has Peman himself done to alleviate this theatre crisis?
1"A Window Closes," Time, April 3, 1950, p. 26. 2Ibld.
^"What's Funny Isn't," Newsweek, Jan. 16, 1951, p. 73. ^"Teatro," p. 1181. ^Ibld.


What has been his contribution to Spanish drama?
Already established as a literary figure, Peman decided to write his first play in 1932. He had heard Padre Rafael Alcocer speak of the religious theatre of Paul Claudel and Henri Gheon, and he wanted to do something similar for Spain.1 His choice of topic was St. Francis Xavier, and the result was El divino impaciente (1933), a play in verse that captured and held the interest of Spanish audiences. Valbuena Prat attributed the success of the play to the religious and political atmosphere of the moment and not to literary merit.2 Unhappy about such criticism, Peman has defended his first drama on the basis of continued popularity; performed by three companies simultaneously in Spain, accepted in Buenos Aires and Dublin, revived in Barcelona in 19k3, the play could not rely only upon a temporary atmosphere.3 He followed this first play with other works of religious and historical themes: Cuando las cortes de Cadiz (193U), Cisneros (193h), La santa virreina (1939), Por la virgen capitana (19U0). Entrambasaguas terms these plays "el ciclo de las glorias de Espana."^ In this cycle Peman tried to revive the classic Spanish national drama. He turned to the verse theatre of Eduardo Marquina for inspiration, joining Marquina, Luis
ipeman, "Confesion general," p. 75*
2Valbuena Prat, Histpria de la literatura espanola, Vol. Ill (5th ed.; Barcelona, 1957), p. 701.
^Peman, "Confesion general," pp. 85-86. EL divino impaciente was translated into English in 1935 under the name A Saint in a Hurry. For other translations of Peman's works, see J. Romo Arregui, "Jose Maria Peman, bibliograffa," Cuadernos de literatura contemporanea, No. 8 (19U3), p. 190.
^Entrambasaguas, o. cit., p. 19.


Fernandez Ardavin, Lorca, and Grau in the group of twentieth century poetic dramatists in Spain. It is interesting to note that Hofmannsthal, Teats, and Eliot, all of whom, like Peman, have written modern versions of Greek tragedies, are also strong supporters of a return to poetic theatre. Although most critics agree that these early plays of Peman are not his best, they earned for him a reputation in the Spanish theatre. One critic even ranks him with Lorca and Casona as among the three best Spanish playwrights of the period from 1928 to 1936.1
Peman next turned his attention to comediescomedias de costum-breswritten in prose. Like Shakespeare, he realized that prose is a more natural vehicle for wit than poetry, and these plays are noted for the rapid dialogue, the use of irony, and the charm of language. Torrente Ballester chooses Julieta y_ Romeo (1935) as the best of these comedies. Other comedies usually listed among his best are Hay siete pecados (19U3), La casa (19U6), and La yerdad (19^7).
Not included in either of these two groups of plays but worthy
of mention are Metternich (19i*2) j El testamento de la mariposa (19^5),
3
chosen as his best play be Entrambasaguas; Vendimia (19^7), also suggested to be Peman's masterpiece;^ and Gallados como muertos (1952). Sainz de Robles chose the latter as one of six plays to'be included in his anthology Teatro espanol, 1951-52. Tyestes is included in the
^Gonzalez Ruiz, 0. cit., p. 25-
^Literatura espanola contemporanea ... ..p. 395.
^Entrambasaguas, o. cit., p. 38.
Valbuena Prat, Teatro moderno espanol (Zaragoza, 19itU), p. 620.


same collection for 1955-56j and Los tres etceteras de don Simon, for 1957-58. Explaining how he chooses plays, editor Sainz de Robles establishes as his criteria "el exito de publico, exito de crftica, numero elevado de representaciones y calidad literaria indiscutible."1
The variation in opinion on Peman as a playwright is almost parallel to the critical viewpoint of the contemporary Spanish theatre as a whole. No two critics precisely agree as to whether he is adding to or detracting from the much discussed "crisis." One critic finds fault with his characters: "El defecto de los personajes de Peman, como los de la mayor parte del teatro moderno de ideas, predican y no significan nada."2 Another finds a weakness in structure.3 A third comments that he cannot compete with the dramatic force of Lorca.^ Calvo Sotelo and Peman may either be competent craftsmen lacking originality5 or two strong walls supporting the classic and traditional theatre adapted to the present moment;^ it all depends on your point of view. That Peman's theatre has literary value is not denied: "Peman, en estos instantes, respetandole a Benavente su lugar propio, es el autor teatral de mas exito entre los que merecen plena consideracion
3-Teatro espanol, 1957-58 (Madrid, 1959), p. xi.
2Torrente Ballester, Literatura espanola contemporanea . p. 396.
3Alfredo Marquerie, "Espana" in El teatro: enciclopedia del arte escenico, ed. Guillermo Diaz-Plaja (Barcelona, 195$), p. 491.
^Hugo Montes Brunet, Literatura espanola (epoca moderna) (Santiago de Chile, 1956), p. 199.
^DeCoster, loc. cit., p. 185.
Antonio Perez de Olaguer, "Teatro" in Suplemento anual, 1953-54 ^ Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo americana (Madrid, 1957),
p. HJI5.


literaria." Gonzalez Ruiz suras up what might be termed a middle-of-the-road opinion of Peman's contribution to the theatre with the following statements
No es tan importante, sin embargo, para nosotros, en este caso, la valoracion de Peman, como la significacion de Peman en la marcha del teatro espanol contemporaneo. Y-en este orden podriamos considerar que Peman mantiene la postura imperecedera de las que pueden considerarse premisas ineludibles del buen teatro sin introducir en la escena ninguna modificacion importante. En una epoca de transicion que no puede considerarse esplendorosa, Peman sobresale porque conserva una lxnea de dignidad y de altura. Mas que un constructor es un apuntalador. Agrega sus materiales a-lo que se cala y lo sostiene. Es un merito cuando los construc-tores se emperezan y se tardan y empezamos a preguntarnos donde estan.2
In this paper, our specific concern is the series of adaptations of Greek legends that Peman began in 19U5. According to many critics, it is within this group of plays that Peman1 s greatest achievements are to be found, and, in our opinion, it is also here that Peman has shown the closest connection with the contemporary theatre of other nations. Still somewhat isolated from world literary trends, Spain nevertheless is undergoing an international influence:, and Peman, however firmly attached to the tradition of the Spanish drama, shows definite signs of this influence. Twentieth century French playwrights inspired him to create a religious theatre. Poetic drama and historical plays were revived by writers in other countries at about the same time. And modernization of classic myths is a dominant theatrical trend of the first half of the present century.
Peman has adapted works of Calderon, Shakespeare, and Schiller, as well as Greek tragedies, but it is with the latter that he has
kkmzalez Ruiz, op_. cit., p. 19. 2Ibid., p. 22.


been most successful. "Las obras clasicas, precisamente por la
perenne juventud de su immortalidad 7 su riqueza infinita de contenido
humano, son las que pueden tocarse y manosearse de mas distintas
maneras y con mayor libertad," he writes in the prologue to Hamlet,1
justifying these free adaptations of the classics. The first of the
Greek plays, Antigona, opened on May 12, 19 U5, in the Teatro Espanol
of Madrid. Written in verse, the play was well received at the first
performance and enjoyed a successful run. It has since been revived
in Spain and in Argentina. Entrambasaguas, who predicts that the work
will serve as a model for future translations [sic], quotes Padre
Ignacio Errandonca as calling this Antigona the only modern version of
Greek tragedy that has satisfied him. Although a free adaptation of
Sophocles, the play is faithful to the spirit of the original.
Four years later on December lU, 1949, Electra was staged at the
Teatro Maria Guerrero. Not impressed, Sainz de Robles termed it a
"variante no demasiado feliz de un tema eterno muy tentador para los
grandes poetas."3 Other critics have had more praise for the play and
Peman's personal interpretation of the Electra story.
Pese a los reparos de la critica, en especial en cuanto al vigor tragico de Electra, consideramos muy loable la inquietud artistica que ha dado lugar a este experimento, de valioso contenido literario y poetico, escrito, sin duda alguna, a sabiendas de que solo puede ser asequible a la porcion de publico de mas substanciosa preparacion.^
10bras Sompletas, Vol. IV (Madrid, 1950), p. 1697.
Entrambasaguas, op_. cit., pp. Ii5, 43.
3Teatro espanol, JL2l&=5Q (Madrid, 1951), p. 151.
aAntonio J. Mezieres, "Teatro" in Suplemento 1949-52 of Enciclo-pedia ulniversal llustrada (Madrid, 1955), p. 1421.


In the sense that the play of necessity is aimed at a minority audience, Electra and Peman's other classic myths belong to the contemporary theatre that is inteaM for the intellectual and not for the average playgoer. "In much of their work, O'Neill, Giraudoux, Sartre, Yeats, Cocteau, and 0'Casey, for example, are at odds with the world of the middle-class playgoer, who has been the theatre's patron west of the 'iron curtain.'"^ At least with this group of plays, Peman cannot be accused of sacrificing quality to appeal to the public.
Edipo opened February 11, 1953. in Barcelona, and then on January 15 of the following year in the Teatro Maria Guerrero in Madrid. It has been revived since then, being produced in the Roman theatre of Merida on June 11, I960, with the Teatro Espanol company of Madrid. The Encyclopedia Britannica lists it among four noteworthy theatrical successes of 195k in Spain. The play had been awaited with expectation, one critic notes, both because of the topic and because of the author; "y la obra no defraudo, antes al contrario, porque el admirado escritor gaditano, volviendo a la cantera clasica, consiguio proba-blemente la mas perfecta y brillante de cuantas obras ha escrito para el teatro."^ Torrente Ballester shares this high opinion of Edipo, also believing it to be Peman*s best dramatic work, "versificado con sencillez, elegancia y nobleza, construfdo con acierto, ifricamente
kxassner, The Theatre in Our Times, p. 12.
Reginald Francis Brown, "Spanish Literature," Britannica Book of the Year, 1955 (Chicago, 1955), p. 709.
3plrez de Olaguer, o. cit., p. lii25.


elevado y dramaticamente eficas."1 Edipo, like Antigona, attempts to
remain faithful to the Sophoclean tragedy.
Si en Electra, Peman, siguiendo en esto una lnea semejante a la de Cocteau, Giraudoux, y Anouilh, intento una version teatral del mito clasico con palabras de hoy, en Antigona y en Edipo desarrollo otro proposito mas directo, lo que, pudieramos llamar recomposicion o restauracion poeticas de la tragedia griega conser-vando sus valores substanciales, pero recreandolos y reelaboran-dolos de una manera impecable y admirable. 2.
The last play in the series, Tyestes is perhaps the most original.
Here Peman departs from Seneca's version almost entirely and does his
own free adaptation of the classic myth. First presented in Merida
on June 17, 1956, the tragedy was brought to Madrid the following
October at the Teatro Espanol. Sainz de Robles, making his first
favorable comment on Peman's interpretations of ancient legends,
terms it a "magnificent tragedy, revived by a great poet."^ Other
critics have been equally complimentary. Gonzalez Ruiz considers
Tyestes the best of the four plays, the most personal, and the play
in which Peman has most freed himself from the classic pattern; "el
mito resulta transportado, de todas maneras, hacia una vision moderna
de la vidaj pero no incorporado a dicha vision, sino matizado casi
inevitablemente por ella."^ Marquerxe, who reviewed the production
for ABC, also praised Tyestes highly and reminded his readers of the
literary value of all four classic adaptations:
1Partorama de la literatura . p. 367. ^Marquerie, pj>. cit., p. h91*
3Teatro espanol, 1955-56 (Madrid, 1957), p. xiii. ^Ibid., p. 319.


Y es justo consignar que la tarea de recreacion que Peman ha realizado con esta y con otras obras clasicas, por la nobleza de su ambicion, por la belleza de su palabra y por mpetu y aliento tragico, en todo instante logrados y conseguidos, merece el mayor y mas sincero elogio.
We shall now proceed to study these four plays in detail and
in comparison with other contemporary adaptations of Greek legends.


CHAPTER III THREE VERSIONS OF ANTIGONE
Even before he created his Oedipus Tyrannus, Sophocles had brought to the classic theatre his dramatization of the myth of Antigone, daughterand sisterof the ill-fated king of Thebes. "Unquestionably this is the finest and most delicately balanced of all the tragedies the Greek stage has to offer us," one critic praises Antigone.1 Sacrificing herself in order to honor her brother with funeral rites, Antigone is a memorable figure; nevertheless, in the Sophoclean drama, she shares the spotlight with Creon, the tyrant and true tragic hero who detects his error too late. Antigone has retained her popularity as a heroine over the centuries, once again inspiring playwrights in recent years. Among those contemporary writers are Jean Cocteau, Jean Anouilh, and Peman.
A versatile artist, Cocteau has tried his hand at poetry, plays, novels, choreography, painting, film direction, criticism, ballet, and opera. Born in 1891, he published his first volume of poetry in 1909 and has been busily at work ever since. In the theatre, he has been particularly active in creating a symbolist or surrealist drama, often drawing from classical mythology for this purposes Antigone, Oedipe Roi, Orphee, La machine infernale. The latter of these plays, which
^-Nicoll, op. cit., p. 62.
30


will be discussed in a later chapter, demonstrates quite well what Cocteau was trying to achieve, while Antigone (1922) is the first of Cocteau's modernizations of myths and less revolutionary in oa?m than those which follow. Presented with Honegger's music and Picasso's sets, the Antigone play is little more than a condensation of the Greek transposed in colloquial dialogue. Gide is quoted as commenting that "this Antigone had been dressed up with ultra-modern sauce and that it suffered as a result."1 It is easy to agree with Gide. In essence, Cocteau has added nothing to the Greek, and the modern language has greatly lessened the tragic force of the original,
Cocteau's Antigone was first produced at the Atelier in Paris on December 20, 1922. It was revived in 1927 with a few changes. In 1930 the American Laboratory Theatre staged it in the United States. The play retains Sophocles' characters and the Greek plot development. Cocteau breaks away from the form of his classic model only in the use of the chorus. In 1922 Cocteau himself was the chorusa single, off-stage voice that spoke loudly,-=and rapidly as if reading a newspaper. In 1927 the off-stage voice was replaced by a masked chorus; Cocteau, like O'Neill in the United States, has often experimented with masks on the modern stage.
Showing his reasons for and methods of adapting the classics,
Cocteau prefaces his play with the following,-
C'est tentant de photographier la Grece en aeroplane. On lui decouvre un aspect tout neuf,
Ainsi j'ai voulu traduire Antigone. A vol d'oiseau de grandes beautes disparaissent, d'autres surgissent; il se forme des rapprochements, des blocs, des ombres, des angles, des
^-David I. Grossvogel, The Self-Conscious Stage in Modern French Drama (New lork, 195'8), p. 53~T*


reliefs inattendus.
Peut-ttre mon experience est-elle un moyen de faire vivre les vieux chefs-d'oeuvre. A force d'y habiter nous les contem-plons distraitement, mais parce que je survole un texte celebre, chacun croit 1'entendre pour la premiere fois.l
A bird's eye view of a play necessarily has to drop the details; the longer speeches and the choral odes of Sophocles' play are all cut, making the final result a contraction of the original. Voltaire had maintained two centuries before that modern staging required the elimination of the chorus, and hence the Greek play did not supply enough material for a full-length tragedy. Voltaire, Corneille, and Dryden added sub-plots to Oedipus Tyrannus. Anouilh and Peman have both elaborated upon the basic outline of Sophocles' Antigone to create full-length dramas. Cocteau solves the problem by turning out a one-act Antigone.
The play opens, as does the Greek, with a conversation between
Ismene and Antigone. Cocteau follows the pattern for the dialogue,
but modernizes the speech. He varies from Sophocles only in that
Ismene does not assure her sister that she is loved. "Go, then, if
thou must; and of this be sure, that, though thine errand is foolish,
to thy dear ones thou art truly dear," declares the Greek Ismene,2
while her French counterpart only comments, "Eh bien, va done, impru-
3
dente. Ton coeur te perd."-^ Cocteau's heroine certainly receives no sympathy from her sister, and thus Ismene's later show of courage is less understandable.
1Cocteau, Theatre (13th ed,; Paris, 191*8), p. 9.
2Sophocles, Antigone, tr. R. C. Jebb in The Complete Greek Drama, Vol, I, ed. Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. (New lork, 1938J, pp. 1*26.
3Cocteau, pj% cit., p. 15.


After an abbreviated comment from the chorus, Creon comes to tell them of his decree. The leader of the Greek chorus acknowledges Creon's authority with dignity and respect. Cocteau's chorus answers rather flippantly, "Bravo, Creon. Tu es libre, tu disposes des morts et de nous."1 The guard, a comic figure as in the Greek, appears and hesitantly tells the king that someone has disobeyed him and has tried to cover the body. Both Creons blame the disobedience on a conspiracy, but Cocteau's Creon expounds at greater length on the evil effect of money. No doubt contemporary France is more concerned than was Greece with "1'argent ignoble" that demoralizes everything.
Now in Sophocles' tragedy, the chorus speaks of the wonders of man in one of the most beautiful and best known choral odes of the Greek theatre. Cocteau parodies this ode that declares, 'Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man."2 Man ceases to be a wonder from the contemporary viewpoint: "L'homme est inoui. L'homme navigue, l'homme laboure, l'homme chasse, l'homme peche. II dompte les cheveux. II pense. II parle. II invente des codes, il se chauffe et il couvre sa maison ...."-^ The poetry of the Greek thought has disappeared.
Having been caught by the guard, Antigone is brought before Creon. Their conversation parallels Sophocles, but the characters have lost some of their nobility, and the tragedy is less moving. Ismene enters and wants to die with her sister. Haemon comes to reason with his father. The chorus comments as in the Greek, but the modern
1Ibid., p. 16. 2Sophocles, op_. cit., p. 1*32.
3cocteau, op_. cit., p. 18.


method of phrasing their advice makes their comments seem inane.
"Sire, 'tis meet that thou shouldest profit by his words, if he speaks
aught in season, and thou, Haemon, by thy father's; for on both parts
there hath been wise speech,1'1 sounds like better counsel than, "0 roi,
s'il a raison, e'coute-le. S'il a tort, qu'il t'lcoute. Le preces est,
2
de part et d'autre, en excellentes mains," although the somewhao more confusing French advice actually has the same meaning.
Both Antigones know they must die, but -one French heroine explains why for a reason never expressed by Sophocles. "Je suis une lille de l'inceste. voila* pourquoi je meurs."^ Antigone had inherited her father's pride, and certainly her family had not been favored by the gods, but Cocteau departs from Sophocles when he directly blames the whole affair on incest.
Teiresias comes to warn Creon, and Creon attempts too late to avert the tragedy. Eurydice hears the news and disappears. Cocteau's stage directions indicate a series of three long silences after the queen's exit for the passage of time and the building up of suspense. The silences are a theatrically effective technique that Cocteau doubtless learned from the French playwrights who popularized the device earlier in the century.
The tragedy has ended, and it remains only for the chorus to deliver the closing lines. A comparison of these lines shows the difference in tone between Cocteau's play and the Greek. Sophocles' ends with a moral, a lesson for humanity:
^Sophocles, o. cit., p. bk2* 2Cocteau, o. cit., p. 2km 3Ibid., p. 27.


Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.1
Cocteau's play ends with a much more trivial comment:
II faut craindre d'injurier les dieux. Trop tard, Creon, trop tard.2
Although Cocteau has faithfully adapted the plot of Sophocles' Antigone, he has parodied the spirit and the language of the Greek. In our opinion, he has lost the tragic force of the Greek drama without adding anything original to give his own play lasting merit.
The same is not true of Anouilh1s version of Antigone, written twenty years later. Considered by many to be Anouilh's best play, Antigone has been staged with considerable success in translation in various countries since it was written in 191*2. Along with Eurydice and Medee, it belongs among Anouilh's adaptations of Greek myths in modern dress and dialogue. A younger playwright than Cocteau or Giraudoux, Anouilh, born in 1910, has followed both of them to a certain extent in this phase of his theatre. Brereton remarks that "there is something of Cocteau in Jean Anouilh, but much more of Giraudoux."3 Anouilh, however, differs from Cocteau, Gide, and Giraudoux, all of whom belong to the school of playwrights who, breaking away from naturalism, had created a theatre of unreality. Cocteau usually turned to symbolism and surrealism, although this tendency is not evident in his Antigone. Gide and Giraudoux resorted to the classic
"^Sophocles, op_. cit., p. 1*59. 2cocteau, op. cit., p. 33.
2Geoffrey Brereton, A Short History of French Literature (London, 1956), p. 338. *"


theatre to "counteract the influence of naturalistic dramatic
technique."1 Anouilh, Camus, and Sartre, however, depart from the
example of their immediate predecessors. Interested in the human
condition, in the anguish of man, in the absurdity of life, they
once again give to their plays the elements of naturalism.
p
Anouilhrs plays are plays of protest. His hero has the courage to say "no" and thus reject the world which corrupts man. This hero or heroine, usually a young girl who is inflexible in spite of her apparent frailty, "refuses to compromise with life and prefers death or certain unhappiness."3 This is the pessimistic outlook of Anouilh's "pieces noires" which links him with Camus and Sartre. Anouilh's characters commence an orgy of negation that ends in self-destruction;^ they are born for death.
First staged during the German occupation, Antigone, like Les mouches of Sartre, is thought to carry a political message. Creon may kill Antigone, but he cannot dominate her; she is the eternal rebel, the enemy of the tyrant. But Creon in the play is perhaps a more sympathetic character than the intransigent Antigone, so some critics have accused Anouilh of defending the Germans or Petain. "Des imbeciles en conclurent que la piece etait une apologie du fascisme,"^
^Friederich, op_. cit., p. 3u2.
2
Jacques Guicharnaud, Modern French Theatre from Giraudoux to Beckett (New Haven, 1961), p. 130.
^Brereton, o. cit., p. 338.
^Grossvogel, "Introduction" to Anouilh's Antigone (Cambridge, Mass., 1959), p. 11.
^Rene Lalou, Le theatre en France depuis 1900 (Paris, 1951), p.108.


Lalou ridicules this interpretation, and in America a critic finds that the merit of this play, this special tension, derives from the ambiguity.1 At any rate, Anouilh and Sartre both managed to slip a message to occupied France past the German censor by disguising it in a classic myth.
Anouilh adopts the legend of Antigone, but he borrows little from Sophocles' tragedy. Teiresias, the blind prophet of the Greek tragedy, does not appear in the modern French play, while Anouilh introduces Antigone's old nurse and Creon's young page, two characters not found in Sophocles' play. The one guard of the Greek tragedy now has comrades on stage, all of whom closely resemble contemporary policemen. The play begins with a prologue that introduces all of the characters and, in the fashion of Cocteau, eliminates all element of surprise or suspense. Antigone is already aware of the role she must play and the act she must perform in order to become Antigone. Symbolically she is all alone; she knows she must die and can no longer belong to the world of the living. The other characters are all assembled on stage, too. Notable among them is Creon, not the tyrant of antiquity but a human being who was thrust upon the throne and accepted the responsibility. The prologue ends and the characters exit.
Anouilh is concerned with time as Sophocles was not. The action begins at gray dawn when the world is without color. This is Antigone's last day; she has gone that night to bury her brother and now the nurse finds her outside the house before sunrise. Antigone hides the truth, putting off the inevitable for just a few moments. The Antigone of these early scenes has not yet gained her full strength. She recalls
'-Bentley, In Search of Theater, p. 1*8.


her childhooda characteristic of Anouilh1s heroesand still feels
herself too small for her role. There is something pathetic and
heartrending about this Antigone. She has been the wallflower, the
lonely one, while Ismene has been the beauty. Then one day, without
any forewarning, Haemon asked to marry her. The night before she had
borrowed Ismeneife clothes and make-up to beautify herself and give
herself to Haemon before dying, but he had not understood and had
laughed; she loves him and the child they might have had. Now she
must tie up the loose endsentrust the care of her dog to the old
nurse and say farewell to her fiance.
As in the Greek, Antigone and Ismene stage a dialogue early in
the play in which Ismene, the sister who reflects, tries to reason
with Antigone, the sister who acts. Unlike the Greek, in Anouilh1s
play Antigone has already acted when this conversation takes place.
Ismene is afraid to die and therefore accepts the king's decree to
avoid suffering and adverse public opinion. Antigone cannot accept
society and its conventions, but she would have wanted to lives
Qui se levait la premiere, le matin, rien que pour sentir l'air froid sur sa peau nue? Qui se couchait la derniere seulement quand elle n'en pouvait plus de fatigue, pour vivre encore un peu de la nuit? Qui pleurait deja toute petite, en pensant qu*il y avait tant de petites betes, tant de brins d'herbe dans le pre et qu'on ne pouvait pas tous les prendre?1
She is sensual; she has wanted to embrace all of life, but she is forced to destroy herself. She is also young and pure, and her inflexibility draws strength from the purity. She is much like the jeune fille of Giraudoux, the young girl who is really un monstre and the
Anouilh, Antigone in Nouvelles pieces no ires (Paris, 19u6), pp. 1U7-48.


source of trouble in the world.1 Antigone resembles Giraudoux's Electra, and the Antigone-Creon relationship parallels somewhat the Electra-Aegisthus relationship of Electre. The chaste young girl recognizes truth and justice and stubbornly insists that these absolute values be inflexibly applied no matter what the consequences. Antigone, in so doing, destroys herself and brings death to Haemon and Eurydice; Electra destroys her entire city. Electra is, as she is termed in the play itself, "une femme a. histoires."2 Anouilh's heroine, too, is a "femme a histoires." Creon and the guard both seem to recognize this. Creon realizes that Antigone's tragic situation is nothing more than a story she has invented for herself. "Valait-il mieux te laisser mourir dans cette pauvre histoire?" he asks.^ Four times the guard warns Antigone, "Pas d'histoires!"^ As she herself declares, "Sans la petite Antigone, vous auriez tous ete bien tranquilles."^
As in Sophocles, the guard reluctantly comes to tell Creon that the body has been covered ever so slightly as if by a bird or a child. Following the Greek pattern, Creon suspects a conspiracy. But the modern Creon is a politician and is primarily concerned that the people do not find out that his authority has been defied. It is not the deed, but rather the bad press that worries him. When Antigone is brought before him by the guards who have been manhandling her, he sees the possibility of saving her by hushing up the whole affair.
lAlcmene in Amphitryon 38, fearing that her husband may someday be enticed by a sixteen-year old virgin, calls young girls "monsters."
2The "femme a histoires" is a trouble-maker, the kind of woman who fusses, who creates scenes, who quarrels. Naturally such a woman would carry tales and exaggerate reality in the stories she invented.
3lbid., p. 189. %bid., pp. 166, 201, 205, 208. ^Ibid., p. 207.


Uo
He recognizes in her the pride of Oedipus; he realizes that she has disobeyed him only for the sake of the gesture; he knows that they are both playing roles and that his is the bad one. She accuses him of having said "yes," of having accepted the responsibility of the government instead of refusing everything as she is doing, and he defends himself: "II faut pourtant qu'il y en ait qui menent la barque."^ Then he reminds her what bad sons her brothers were to Oedipus; he reveals that both brothers had planned treachery against the city, that their mutilated bodies on the field of battle were beyond recognition, but that he, Creon, needed to bury one with dignity as a hero and leave the traitor's corpse for the birds and dogs for political reasons. He almost convinces Antigone that her gesture is absurd; but then he predicts a life of happiness for her, and she envisions a life that would be even more absurd. 'Me suis la pour dire non et pour mourir," she had previously declared. And now she prepares to die; her fate is sealed and she is at peace much like Meursault after the trial in Camus's L'Etranger. The chorus earlier had commented that tragedy itself was tranquil for the ending was already established, and the spectator need not be vexed with "sale espoir."3 in. the same way, Antigone is relieved when there is no hope.
Ismene offers to die with her sister, but Anouilh has not prepared for this sudden display of courage. Antigone gives herself credit for Ismene*s change of heart, implying that her own spirit of refusal is contagious and therefore doubly dangerous to Creon. Haemon, like his Sophoclean counterpart, comes to argue with his father,
1Ibid., p. 18U. 2Ibid. 3ibld., p. 166.


la
but the French prince, unlike the Greek, does not offer his father wise counsel. He becomes emotional and begs for mercy; then for the first time, he sees his father in the light of reality. Creon can do nothing to help him; Antigone has sealed her own doom.
Antigone is left with a guard,and the absurdity of her situation is highlighted by the lack of communication between them. Antigone awaits her death, and the guard chatters away about the advantage of being a guard instead of a soldier. The condemned girl's attempts to dictate a letter, a final message to those she is leaving behind, is in vain; the words lose meaning when the guard writes them, and finally
she is left with just a few words that have been addressed to no one. She goes to death in loneliness. A messenger, as in the Greek tragedy, reports Antigone's death, Haemon's suicide, and Eurydice's suicide. Creon is left all alone with the little page, who is too young to understand; the king has no choice but to continue with his royal duties. The guards, undisturbed by the tragedy, play cards.
In the play, Anouilh has introduced symbols as both Cocteau and Giraudouz might have done. Antigone tries to cover her brother's body by using a child's toy as a tool. The threads about her neck at her death resemble a child's necklace. In death, Haemon looks like a child. Anouilh's heroes are usually captivated by their childhood and the illusions of childhood. Antigone saves a flower her brother had given her, and the flower symbolizes for her the thoughtful older brother that neither Polyneices or Eteocles had ever been. Eurydice knits constantly, making warm clothes for poor Thebans; Creon associates her with the knitting, and the chorus tells him after the suicide that the


h2
poor have a cold winter ahead. Such use of symbolism shows that Anouilh was influenced to some degree by Cocteau and Giraudoux even though he has broken away from their theatre of unreality.
Cocteau did nothing more in his Antigone than make a rather inadequate modern translation of Sophocles' tragedy. Much more original in his approach, Anouilh put the ancient legend in modern dress and used the familiar story to develop his own theme, "the conflict between political expediency and the individual conscience.m1 That the play has contemporary meaning is shown by the heated discussion of its political significance. Antigone belongs to the twentieth century, to the generation that cannot accept the world as it is and therefore must reject it entirely rather than compromise with ideals. She has little in common with Sophocles' heroine, but Anouilh has made admirable use of the ancient legend to bring to the stage his modern Antigone.
Familiar with the Antigone plays of both Cocteau and Anouilh,2 Peman in his version differs essentially from the interpretations of the two French playwrights. His Antigona preserves Greek dress and the spirit of the ancient tragedy although he manipulates the plot and supplements the framework of Sophocles' drama. Antigone for the Spanish is the great tragedy of liberty and of love, and the heroine is the little girl who disobeyed the tyrant to follow divine law. 3 Peman
^Brereton, op_. cit., p. 338.
2Pema.n mentions them in his "Introduccion" to Antigona, Obras completas, IV", 1238.
3Ibid., p. 1239.


J-Ibid. 3 p. 12U0. 2Ibid., p. 12la. 3Ibid.
intends his Antigone to be a warm and lovable person.1 The goal the Spanish playwright set for his play was to find a form most nearly resembling that of the Christian romantic theatre while, at the same time, maintaining a sufficient degree of Hellenic atmosphere and tone. Narrative, he felt, should be replaced by action; the chorus should be used as a theatrical character to show more of the reaction of the townspeople,3 Like Lope de Vega, to whom he has been compared, Peman was also conscious of a need to choose carefully the verse forms for the play. The verse varies according to the station of the speaker-chorus lines are thus set off from regular dialogueand prose is utilized by characters not of a high enough intellectual level to justify poetry. The result is a theatrically effective three-act drama.
Peman expands his Sophoclean model considerably. The speaking parts include a-number of townspeople, soldiers, and members of the court not present in the Greek tragedy. The chorus, in order to give a cross section of the city, is divided among old men, women, girls, boys, soldiers, and those connected with the court or the temples. The lines are spoken by individuals, giving the effect of natural conversation and comment among the people. The stage is set to show the townthe open square, Creon1 s house, and Antigone's houseand the hill where the soldiers guard the decaying body and where the cave is located in which Antigone will die. Thus all the off-stage action is brought within sight of the audience.
The play begins with a long original scene featuring the chorus.



The Spanish playwright adds to Sophocles but doesn't destroy the unity of action. It is afternoon and the town is celebrating the end of war and victory. Trumpets sound. The scene is littered with the remnants of battle--a broken sword, a helmet, a lance. The broken sword is symbolic: the helmet will be used to grow flowers. Thus Peman shows the coming of peace; Giraudoux1 s Hector in La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu tried to close the gates of war, a somewhat more difficult gesture to accomplish than planting flowers in a helmet. But the townspeople realize that for Antigone and Ismene the day is not one of rejoicing; the chorus gives the exposition to the tragedy as they talk among themselves.
Creon enters and the crowd quiets down to hear him. An old man comments, "{Que parecido tono tiene el amor y el raiedo ante los reyes!"1 Creon is to be feared as well as loved, he subtly warns us. The chorus makes side comments as Creon talks, displaying a lack of respect also found in Cocteau's version. Creon ironically comments that he wants his reputation to rest on his deeds, he wants to prove himself in his new power. Now the king makes his first official decree: Polyneices will not be buried. Peman has Creon make his decree before Antigone and Ismene discuss it instead of after as in Sophocles.
Detaining a girl from the crowd to keep him company while he thinks, Creon begins to show his character. He is smitten with his own authority: the city is his. But yet it is not all his; Antigone and Ismene are not yet under his control. How reminiscent of Anouilh's play in which Creon cannot dominate AntigoneJ Peman's Creon, however,
"Antigona in Obras oompletas, IV, 1252.


k$
is nearer to Sophocles than to Anouilh. He will let Polyneices' body rot as a healthful lesson to the town and perhaps also to force Antigone and Ismene to bend to his will. Creon is jealous of Oedipus, someone suggests as Peman piles motivation upon motivation. "No tengo mas pasion que la del buen gobierno. Mandar es ser duro e inflexible," Creon replies.1 In Anouilh's play, it is Antigone who is inflexible and Creon who is warm and human. If Peman were not a Franco sympathizer in a country where theatre is closely censored, one would be tempted to follow the French example and find a political message in Creon, the inflexible tyrant. The whole town will repeat Creon's decree his command, the symbol of his authority, will be on everyone's lips. Finding strength in his own power, now fully demonstrated to his people, Creon no longer needs the girl he had previously called to him. He sends her away quite violently; he is now the self-sufficient tyrant.
The first act is more than half over when Peman introduces the opening scene of Sophocles' tragedy, the conversation between Antigone and Ismene. The sisters can be seen in their house behind a curtain. A lamp burns upon the table, for tonight Ismene is afraid of the dark. From outside they hear the voices of the people softly repeating Creon's decree. Creon, angry, shouts at those in the square to speak up and repeat his command so that all may hear. Antigone listens and becomes transfigured as she realizes what Creon is saying. In a theatrically effective way, Peman has shown Antigone as she first becomes aware of the king's harsh law. The conversation that follows between the sisters Ismene, who has listened to the threat of Creon, and Antigone, who hears


1*6
the voice of Polyneicesis parallel to the Greek scene but much more freely adapted than Cocteau's. Peman's Antigone, like Anouilh's, is aware of the role she must play and of the glory that awaits her. "VEso, manana los siglos lo diran, y los poetasl" she exclaims. In Cocteau's La machine infernale, Oedipus, too, is assured of becoming a legend. Antigone considers nothing impossible and declares that a decree that calls for blind obedience must be met with blind rebellion. The enemy of the tyrant must be as hard and as inflexible as the tyrant himself. Antigone chides Ismene for her concept of reason and justice which, in essence, coincides with obedience to the state; the relationship between the sisters in this respect is quite similar to that in Anouilh's play.
Now Peman adds an element not to be found in the other versions of Antigone. Ismene has sacrificed a ring to the gods of the water, hoping to receive advice in return. Too impatient, Antigone cannot wait for a divine reply; she must act immediately. A few minutes later, a fisherman returns the ring to Ismene. He had found it in a fish. Extremely devout and cautious, Ismene interprets this to mean that Antigone must be stopped before she covers Polyneices* body. Ismene's interpretation seems rather farfetched. If the gods have ignored her sacrifice, perhaps they are simply indifferent to Antigone's fate. Antigone, at least, feels that man must act of his own volition; the gods help those who help themselves. Ismene cannot stop her. Nor can the townspeople who ask her where she is going. Ismene pleads with her to stop for the sake of her life, but Antigone continues,


1.7
declaring her life to be the light that burns by her brother*s body on the hill. The curtain falls on Act I.
Peman has taken the content from the first two scenes of Sophocles' play and turned it into a complete act. He has accomplished this by adding to the basic framework, by,staging situations only hinted at in the Greek. The result is well-constructed and dramatic, ending on an effective climactic note.
While unity of action is retained in Peman's play, unity of time, so evident in Sophocles', Cocteau's, or Anouilh's plays, is not. Act I stretches from the afternoon on into the evening of one day. Act II begins at dawn on the next. The scene opens with the three soldiers on the hill, debating who will go to tell the king that Polyneices has been covered with dirt. The other playwrights do not stage this scene; it is not essential to the action. Peman, however, needs material for three acts, and this is certainly an entertaining moment in the legend. One soldier is selected and reluctantly heads to town, stopping to talk to three passers-by. He envies one laborer, who works the soil and has no part in the tragedy. Peman's soldier, like Anouilh's guard, is aware that he is playing a part. A member of the court assures the soldier that Creon will be eager to hear news from the watch on the hill. "Es la piedra sobre la que espera consolidar su naciente poder,"he declares."1" Peman does not miss the chance to introduce a note of dramatic irony.
Creon meets the soldier. Peman here shows his poetic talent even in the soldier's prose explanation of what happened. "Se dirfa que ful


la brisa misma de la noche la que atrajo suavemente el polvo sobre la muerte."1 Peman's chorus, as in the Greek play, interprets the event as the work of the gods. Creon decrees that the soldier must find the guilty party or bear the blame himself. He who disobeyed the king will return to Polyneices' body, Creon wisely predicts, and the soldier goes off muttering, "JA un duelo a muerte voy con una sombraj"2 Once again Peman has embellished the Sophoclean dialogue. Although the Spanish playwright has completely altered the role of the Greek chorus, he introduces here an equivalent to the "wonders of man" ode. Cocteau parodied itj Anouilh omitted it entirely; Peman greatly condenses it and changes the theme. "El hombre es entre todos los misterios el misterio mayor ..."3 but completely blind to his own destiny, he himself weaves the net in which he will be caught.
Hunting for Antigone, Haemon comes to ask Ismene where his fiancee is. The chorus comments that Haemon loves Antigone and thus the gods complicate matters. Do these gods devilishly plot against man as do the deities in Cocteau's La machine infernale? Apparently Peman believes enigmatically both that man blindly traps himself and that the gods push him toward the inevitable.
Antigone is not at home. Realizing what his fiancee is, Haemon declares, "Antigona es un viento fatal e inevitable."^ In essence, this is what Anouilh's Antigone is, too, although she is never described in just these terms. The description characterizes the heroine, but it shows a young girl far removed from the warm and lovable Antigone Peman started out to create. Haemon fears his father and recalls an
1Ibid., p. 1273. 2Ibid. 3ibid. %bid., p. 1275.


h9
incident from childhood to prove Creon's ruthlessnsss. Peman's Creon is not a tragic hero in the Sophoclean sense, nor is he Anouilh's sensitive human being. Rather he is a confirmed tyrant from whom one can expect no mercy and for whom one can feel no sympathy.
The soldiers come with Antigone, who, in a spirit of exaltation and pride, is anxious to get all the glory she has earned. She would have turned herself in if she had not been caught. Closely related to Anouilh's Antigone, she is proud of her act and has no regrets. She is aware of her bloody, dirty handsj Anouilh's heroine was not conscious of hers until the guard mentioned them. The dirty hands of these heroines is an obvious symbol of their deed.1 Somehow this hard, courageous Antigone, this Antigone who is concerned about the publicity she will receive throughout the centuries, needs no pity, but the soldiers feel sorry for her. She is a princess who could not escape her fate, for she came from a family cursed by the gods. She justifies her act to Creon with this poetically expressed excuse, "fSobre tu ley los dioses tienen una ley silenciosa escrita en las estrellas.'"2 Like the modern pacifist, she has a right to disobey civil law, for she believes in a higher authority. To Creon's face, she tells him that the people are afraid to voice their approval of her deed, that the horror of tyrants is never knowing whether they are surrounded by adulation, truth, or hate. The point is implied in Sophocles, but here Antigone states it quite bluntly. "jNac para el amor, no para el odioj" declares Antigone,3 simplifying a similar thought in the Greek,
4loederer is aware of the same symbol in Sartre's Les mains sales. 2Antgona, o. cit., p. 1281. 3Ibid., p. 1283.


"Tis not my nature to join in hating, but in loving."1 Antigone is to become a legend, and she will not share her glory with Ismene.
Creon hands out the death sentence immediately, not waiting as in the Greek. Moreover, he does not condemn both sisters as does his Sophoclean counterpart, who then has to retract his verdict against Ismene. Haemon unsuccessfully tries to reason with his father and then flees when Creon threatens to kill Antigone right in front of Haemon. Peman*s Creon is truly a heartless man. Following the example of the Greek choral ode, the chorus here comments on the power of love. Before being dragged off to her lonely cave, Antigone predicts that her name will become a rebel yell. Her often-expressed cognizance of her own legendary role is theatrically effective but too exaggerated to be in keeping with any illusion of reality.
Act III opens at night. Days have passed and the town is electric with tension. The silence of the night is broken by the sound of an unidentified flute that puts the nerves of both the townspeople and the spectators on edge. The chorus is convinced because of many signs that the gods are displeased, but Creon wants to believe that all is peaceful. He deceives himself while Eurydice worries about Haemon, who has not yet returned.
Haemon comes to Ismene and learns that Antigone, closed up in her cave, may still be alive. By chance he had befriended a soldier who now stands guard at the cave and will let him through. Leaving no loose ends, Peman thus explains how Haemon was able to enter the cave that logically would have been heavily guarded at the king's command.
^Sophocles, o. cit., p. u36.


Haemon actually plans to overthrox* his father and re-establish justice and reason.
On the verge of death, Antigone greets Haemon and declares herself to be an immortal idea and lesson for mankind. She bids him bury her brother and dies as he exclaims, n\0 alma dura y tenaz! jHiJa de Edipo!"1 Haemon closes the cavej the soldiers flee; the flute sounds again.
Now Teiresias warns Creon of the error he is committing, and
Creon replies even more insolently and mockingly than in the Greek.
Finally he decides to surrender to the will of the gods and repeal
his decree although before he could not allow himself to be ruled by
his wife and a woman's pleading. Teiresias pointedly explains that
he represents truth without either fear or hope. Creon climbs the
hill and discovers the bodies within the cave. Eurydice takes a sword
and runs off to stab herself. Wishing to be pardoned, Creon realizes
it is too late, for those he has offended are dead. The tyrant is all
alone, and the flute sounds like the laugh of the gods. The play ends
with a much too obvious moral as Creon sadly remarks,
Ay soledad del mar cuando se pierden de vista las orillas ... ; \desastrada soledad infinita del tirano que ha perdido de vista la templanza.'2
These last scenes in which the characters point out their roles, in
which horror piles upon horror, and in which the final lines have a
"the-moral-of-the-story-is" tone rather approach melodrama. They may
be "good theatre," however, and Peman was concerned with adapting the
1Antxgjona, 0. cit., p. 1302. 2Ibid., p. 1312.


play so that it would be "theatrical" enough for the contemporary stage.
In writing his Antigona, Peman set for himself several objectives. Of these, he has indeed managed to turn narrative into action by staging the scenes only related by messengers in the Greek and to use the chorus as a theatrical character by letting them represent a cross section of the townspeople. Stylistically, he has also reached his goal, for he has effectively created poetry elevated enough for tragedy; certainly both his blank verse and his prose surpass in beauty of language and image the colloquial dialogue of Cocteau or the everyday speech of Anouilh. In creating a warm and lovable Antigone he has failed, perhaps because of an acquaintance with Anouilh's play. Undoubtedly a fine craftsman, Peman has taken full advantage of the theatrical possibilites of the legend. He has succeeded in converting the Greek tragedy, chorus and all, to the contemporary stage without entirely losing the spirit of Sophocles' work. Entrambasaguas, however, is mistaken when he calls Antigona a model of translation. Peraan's term "adaptacion muy libre" is much more accurate. The form of the play and at least part of the content are original.
In comparing these three versions of Antigone, it becomes evident that Cocteau's effort is the least successful adaptation and the least original. As we have already pointed out, Cocteau's play is little more than an abbreviated version of the tragedy rewritten in colloquial speech. The "bird's-eye view" that Cocteau refers to in his preface has overlooked the beauty and the tragic grandeur of Sophocle's work and has offered nothing as a replacement, not even particularly sparkling witty dialogue. Peman's version, which retains something of the Greek


spirit and dignity, more nearly approximates tragedy, in spite of its melodramatic ending. Because of its form and the treatment of the chorus, Peman's Antigona really shows more originality than does Cocteau's Antigone, even though Cocteau is a man often noted for his originality and imagination. Peman's play, too, is not completely satisfactory, in part because of the inconsistency of Antigone's character; she is meant to be warm and lovable, but she is too hard and inflexible, too concerned with her future glory, to win much sympathy. Neither she nor Creon is warm enough and human enough to cause us really to feel their tragedy. More significant in the development of contemporary theatre is Anouilh's version of Antigone, which has had a widespread influence in the Western world. Anouilh's characters are much better and more subtly delineated than are Peman's, and the French Antigone is more profound in its study of the conflict between the inflexible, idealistic young girl and the politician who is older and much more willing to compromise. Anouilh's modernization of Antigone is undoubtedly much more original in setting, form, and content than Peman's Antigona. Nevertheless, while Peman's play may be of less lasting interest, it is an admirable adaptation of Greek legend, extremely well written and well constructed, skillfully planned to be theatrically effective.


CHAPTER IV
ELECTRA FROM FOUR CONTEMPORARY POINTS OF VIM
Like Antigone, Electra continues to be a popular dramatic heroine. She is a source of inspiration for contemporary playwrights. Among those writers who have given to the world theatre twentieth century versions of the Orestes-Electra legend are Eugene O'Neill, Jean Giraudoux, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Jose Maria Peman. These adaptations vary greatly in their form, content, and purpose. O'Neill brought to the stage a monumental work, a trilogy designed to parallel the Orestia but representing the Greek sense of fate in modern rpsychoanalytical terms. Giraudoux, drawing more from Euripides than from Aeschylus, restricted himself to the events most directly connected with Orestes' matricide. Sartre manipulated the myth to expound his own existentialist theories. Peman, in the only one of his adaptations of Greek myths to be written in prose and given a modern setting, combined both the Agamemnon and the Electra stories in one play.
The earliest of these four adaptations is O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra. Recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1936 and three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, O'Neill is generally considered the greatest American playwright. Barrett Clark calls him the "most original and gifted dramatic writer born and brought up in the United States."1 O'Neill was the major American dramatist of the 1920's:
lHThe United States" in A History of Modern Drama, p. 682.
5U


critic John Gassner laments that no one in the United States in the past two decades has been able to take O'Neill's place.
Mourning Becomes Electra, O'Neill's longest and most ambitious work, was first staged on October 26, 1931, at the Guild Theater in New York. Composed of three full plays in a total of thirteen acts, O'Neill's modernization of Electra takes six hours to perform in its entirety. O'Neill spent years thinking about and working on his trilogy. Fortunately for the student, he published his "Working Notes and Extracts from a Fragmentary Diary" in which he had jotted down ideas for the trilogy as they came to him. As early as spring, 1926, O'Neill was considering writing a modern psychological drama based on Greek legend.2 js it possible to get modern psychological approximation of Greek sense of fate into such a play, which an intelligent audience of today, possessed of no belief in gods or supernatural retribution, could accept and be moved by?" O'Neill wondered.3 This was the problem he was to try to solve in his Electra.
O'Neill decided that the Greeks had missed some of the tragic potential of Electra by marrying her off after Clyteranestra's death; his play would have to have a different ending.^ And at what time was his modern Electra to have lived? O'Neill finally chose the Civil War as being recent enough to carry meaning for the audience and distant enough to provide perspective. Greek architecture was prevalent at
JThe Theatre in Our Times, p. 21+9.
2"Working Notes . ."in Barrett H. Clark's European Theories of the Drama (rev. ed.j New York, 19k7), p. 530.
3Ibid. %bid. ^Ibid., p. 531.


that period and it would not be too exaggerated to have the family home be an imitation of a Greek temple. The family would be a Puritan family with the Puritan conviction that man was born to sin and punishment.1 Members of the modern house of Atreus would resemble one another, the family resemblance serving as a visible sign of the family fate; masks might be used to achieve this effect. The names of O'Neill's characters would be similar to those in the Orestia but not exaggeratedly so. Thus Agamemnon became Ezra Mannon; Clytemnestra, Christine:
Orestes, Orin; Aegisthus, Adam; Electra, Lavinia; Pylades, Peter; 3
Hermione, Hazel.
By May, 1929, O'Neill had chosen a title for his trilogy.
Mourning Becomes Electra would have a double meaning. Mourning becomes
or befits Electra, for it is her fate; and black, in an ironical sense,
is the only color that becomes her destiny.^ O'Neill carefully planned
his murders so that his plotters could avoid detection by modern police;
the Greeks certainly had an easier time of it when they wanted to kill
someone in a playl^ A ship and the sea must be introduced, for the sea
symbolizes escape and release.^ Another symbol would be the South Sea
island where there is security, peace, beauty, and sinlessness; the
island could be a mother symbol of "pre-natal non-competitive freedom
from fear."' The minor characters, Peter and Hazel, would be almost
g
characterless, serving as foils to the family of evil, .passions.
The opening play of the trilogy, Homecoming, takes place in April, 1865. The scene is New England in a seaport town. The Puritan Mannon
ilbid. 2Ibid. 3ibid., pp. 531-32. %bid., p. 532.


family has made its fortune in shipbuilding. Ezra Mannon is a general in the Yankee army who will soon be coming home. His son Orin has also gone off to war in spite of his mother's protests; he has had a head injury and does not return to his home until the second play. While Ezra has been gone, his wife Christine has taken as her lover a sea captain named Adam Brant. Brant's real name is Mannon; he is Ezra's cousin, son of David Mannon and Marie Brantome, a former servant in the Mannon home. David and Ezra's father Abe had both loved Marie, but David succeeded in seducing her. When David decided to marry his mistress, he was banished from the Mannon home. David turned to drink; Marie died in poverty. Deeply fond of his mother, Adam had returned for the sake of vengeance. But he fell in love with Christine instead; with her strange golden brown hair, she reminded him of his mother. Adam, in turn, looks like both Ezra and Orin. Christine, who has hated her husband since their wedding night, sees in Adam the resemblance to Orin, her son whom she adores. Lavinia, who is also half in love with Adam until she learns of the love affair, sees in the sea captain the resemblance to her father, whom she adores. Adam, at Christine's suggestion, had pretended to court Lavinia, but Lavinia, suspicious, had followed her mother to New York one weekend and learned the truth. Christine knows that Lavinia has made this discovery; she can only hope to prevent her daughter from revealing everything to Ezra when he returns. Christine, however, realizes that she cannot live without Adam nor can she live with Ezra; Adam buys poison for her to administer so that she can solve the problem.
Ezra returns. Lavinia showers affection on him, while Christine remains somewhat aloof. The experience of war and close contact with


death have taught Ezra the meaning of life. He desperately wants Christine to love him. Ezra, in his homecoming, is a warm human being and the only member of the family for whom we can easily feel sympathy. Christine gives herself to her husband that night, but in the morning she tortures him with the truth and then gives him poison instead of his medicine as he suffers a heart attack. Lavinia enters the room to hear her father gasp, "She's guiltynot medicine]" Lavinia, who even manages to appropriate the box in which her mother keeps the poison, knows that Christine is a murderess, but the townspeople will assume that Ezra, with his bad heart, died from the excitement of coming homeor, as one neighbor gleefully suggests in the following play, from the strain of love-making.
In the second play, The Hunted, Orin comes home. Christine and Lavinia fight for Orin's devotion. Lavinia, naturally, tries to convince Orin that his mother killed his father with the aid of her lover. Orin wavers for awhile between the two pressures; he seems much more upset that his mother had a lover than that she murdered Ezra. Trying to get Orin out of the house and away from Lavinia's influence, Christine hopes to push him into marriage with Hazel. Lavinia finally proves Christine's guilt to Orin when the two follow their mother to New York and spy on a meeting between her and Adam. At Lavinia's instigation, Orin kills Adam. Later, when Christine learns of Adam's death and knows that she has nothing to live for, she commits suicide.
The third play, The Haunted, takes place a year later. Orin, who is almost insane, and Lavinia, who has blossomed out and now closely resembles her mother, return to the family home after a long trip, which


was highlighted by a visit to a South Sea island. From contact with the natives, Lavinia has been awakened to the idea that love is not evil and she now wishes to marry Peter. Orin, who has transferred his love of Christine to Lavinia and now desires her, is jealous. He begins to write a history of the Mannon crimes; he wants to confess. Lavinia gets Orin's manuscript away from him by promising to give him anything he wants, a promise she has no intention of keeping. Finally Orin kills himself. Lavinia dons mourning once again and realizes that she cannot escape the Mannon fate; instead of fleeing from her ancestral home with all its frightening memories, she decides to stay there, cut off from the rest of the world, and punish herself by living.
O'Neill has followed the general outline of the Orestia in his first two plays but, as he had indicated in his "Working Notes" that he would, he has broken away from the classic model in his concluding play. The dominant note throughout the trilogy is Freud or Freudian implications. Lavinia has an Electra complex: she loves her father and hates her mother. Adam Brant appeals to her because he looks like her father. A sailor on her voyage interested her because he reminded her of Adam. The South Sea islanders fascinated her because Adam had spoken of them and their ignorance of sin. Orin suffers from an Oedipus complex: he loves his mother and hates his father. During the war, each time he killed a soldier, Orin thought he was killing his father. When he kills Brant, Brant becomes Ezra, and Ezra resembles Orin. Eventually Lavinia replaces Christine for Orin and he desires her. Lavinia and Orin have taken the place of Christine and Ezra, according to Orin. Even Adam, who seems less neurotic than the rest, finds that Christine reminds him of his mother. Sex is the root of all


the multiple problems of the play. Puritan Ezra turned love to lust on his wedding night; Christine is repulsed and hates her husband from then on, Orin kills Brant and drives his mother to suicide because he is insanely jealous of the physical relationship of his mother and the sea captain. Later he is again jealous when he thinks that Eavinia may have been physically attracted by the natives.
The dramatic interest and the power of Mourning Becomes Electra stem from the psychoanalytical interpretation of Greek tragedy, but the great defect of the trilogy also comes from the exaggerated use of Freudian psychology as understood by O'Neill. There are simply too many incestuous desires and too many complexes. The result is melodramatic, but not tragic.
O'Neill himself minimized the influence of Freud on his trilogy,
affirming that every human complication of love and hate found in
Mourning Becomes Electra is as old as literatures
In short, I think I know enough about men and women to have written Mourning Becomes Electra almost exactly as it is if I had never heard of Freud or Jung of the others. Authors were Psychologists, you know, and profound ones, before psychology was invented. I am no deep student of psychoanalysis.1
Critic Eric Bentley, who terms the trilogy "a vain effort to assimilate
myth to modern life," felt that O'Neill would have been better off if
he had been ignorant, not only of Freud, but also of watered-down 2
Freudianism. We cannot help but agree with Bentley or at least to a certain extent. Homecoming, the play in which the Freudian implications
^'Neill, as quoted by Barrett Clark, Eugene O'Neills The Man and His Flays (New York, 19u7), p. 136.
2In Search of Theater, p. 21*6.


are expressed most subtly, is superior to the two other plays and particularly to The Haunted in which there is almost more Freud than drama. The symbols O'Neill uses are effective and even occasionally poetics the South Sea island and the peace it offers; the strange golden brown hair of Marie Brantome, Christine, and Lavinia; the masklike expression of the characters and the close resemblance among the Mannons; Christine and her green dresses; Lavinia and her black clothing. But sometimes his Freudian symbols are far too obvious; he repeats them and exaggerates them until they detract from the very drama they are helping to create. For example, when Orin, like Adam and Ezra, begins to dream of an island where he can find peace, that island is his mother; perhaps poor Orin does yearn for the security of the womb, but it is rather far-fetched for both him and Christine to accept the idea that "island" and "mother" are synonymous. Orin's Oedipus complex is indeed over emphasized; he mentions too often that every man he killed became Ezra for him. The characters are perhaps too aware of their own complexes and of everyone else's psychological problems for us to sympathize with them. O'Neill's characters are neurotics, just as Hofmannsthals modernizations of Greek figures were, earlier in the century. "His ^O'Neill's} Hellenism has been, like that of his German counterparts, 'intensely subjective, concerned with problems which ancient Greece never envisaged, with riddles of death Thebes never knew. '"-1- This is the concept of Hellenism inspired by the German philosopher Nietzsche.
What O'Neill does to replace the Greek chorus in his play is
^ngel, o. cit., p. 85. 2Ibid.


quite interesting. He introduces old Seth, the Mannon gardener, as an objective and omniscient onlooker, much like the chorus. Seth's singing of the chanty "Shenandoah" is similar to a choral commentary. At the beginning of each play, a group of townspeople also appear! in addition to providing comic relief, they present the exposition that a Greek chorus might have given. Among other things, they establish how the townspeople dislike the Mannons, and, in particular, Christine.
John Gassner has done a comparative study of O'Neill's Electra and Giraudoux's Electre in his book The Theatre in Our Times.1 Gassner notes that O'Neill's play was written to be acted and not simply to be spoken; Giraudoux's play sparkles with clever dialogue not to be found in Mourning Becomes Electra. Like Cocteau, Giraudoux manipulates his characters like puppets, while O'Neill's characters seem to force themselves toward their own destiny. According to Gassner, while the Freudian scheme in O'Neill's play by itself is tiresome and the puritan theme is oversimplified, O'Neill did create a powerful drama in his trilogy; "he grew the Greek legend as human reality on his stage moment by moment, feeling upon feeling, deed upon deed."2 In Giraudoux's play, one sees the razor-edged wit and trimly styled writing of the European; while O'Neill, modern American in his approach, creates an emotion-fraught and realistic drama.3 Gassner concludes that Giraudoux's play interests him more, but O'Neill's overpowers him.1*
^f. The Theatre in Our Times, pp. 257-66.
2Ibid., p. 265. 3Ibid., p. 257. ^Ibid., p. 266.


O'Neill has been an extremely popular playwright in both Spain and France; one French critic even believes that O'Neill did for the American theatre what Balzac did for the French novel.1 A number of major productions of O'Neill's plays have been given in the French language, starting in 1923 when Gaston Baty staged Emperor Jones at the Odeon.2 Not until 19^2 was a major production given of Mourning Becomes Electra; in that year Gaston Baty presented the trilogy at the Theatre Montparnasse.3 Whether or not Giraudoux was acquainted with O'Neill's work when he wrote Electre in 19373 we do not know, and it hardly matters, for Giraudoux's play differs greatly from O'Neill's ambitious trilogy.
Beginning his literary career as a novelist, Giraudoux did not stage his first play until 1928 when he was already lj.6 years old. This first play, Siegfried, was Giraudoux's own adaptation of an earlier novel and marked the beginning of his successful association with the outstanding actor-director Louis Jouvet. With his second play, Amphitryon 38 (1929), Giraudoux turned to antiquity for inspiration and wrote his comic version of the legend previously treated by ELautus, Moliere, KLeist, and at least 3U other playwrights. The Trojan War served as background for Giraudoux's next adaptation of classic myth, La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu, and Electre two years later became the third in this series of modernizations of ancient legends.
Critics have not been able to agree as to the literary value of Giraudoux1s work. His style, with its elegant turns of phrase, unusual
^Michel Zeraffa, Eugene O'Neill, dramaturge (Paris, 1956), p. 22. 2Ibid., p. 156. 3ibid.


images, and constant witticisms, has been termed precieux, sometimes in admiration and sometimes in criticism. Robert Kemp, who predicts that Sartre's Les mouches will in future generations become nothing more than an exercise in comparative literature for the school child, also fears that Giraudoux's works will not live on simply because of their unique stylej Kemp, however, does feel that Electre and La Guerre de Troie with their enduring themes and profound tragedy are Giraudoux's plays most likely to become classics.1 Harsher than most critics, Lucien Dubech has called Giraudoux the worst writer of his generation. Nevertheless, Giraudoux did dominate the French stage throughout the 1930's and early 19U0's until his death in 191*1.,3 and he is still recognized for his merit enough that in 1960-61 the French universities included his three modernizations of Greek legends in the Agregation program of French literature. One critic even feels that Giraudoux might have been the modern Racine except that the twentieth century does not lend itself to genius.^ And American critic George Jean Nathan, viewing Broadway of the 1950 's without too much enthusiasm, regrets that no current writer has the "imagination and dramaturgical skill of an O'Neill ... or the wisdom, wit, and originality of a Giraudoux.
Nathan has pinpointed the three qualities that make Giraudoux's work sparkle in every line. His characters are gifted with eloquence,
1"The Classics of Tomorrow: French Section," World Theatre, VI (Spring, 1957), 61,-65.
^Quoted by Chris Marker, Giraudoux par lui-meme (Paris, 1959) p. 173.
^Guicharnaud, o. cit., p. 19. ^Marker, ojd. cit., p. 3h 5The Theatre in the Fifties (New York, 1953), p. 123.


often humorous, often philosophical. His themes have a vital meaning for mankind: the happiness of the human couple (Amphitryon 38), the inevitability of war (La Guerre de Troie), the disastrous results of revenge even when revenge is joined by justice and truth (Electre). "His art is a perpetual firework of intellectual and verbal virtuosity that ascends to the stratosphere of human thought and sensibility."1 Giraudoux has been compared with Shax-r, for he, too "expounds serious ideas lightly, profound problems rationally, and tragic ones humanely."2
Written in two acts, Giraudoux's Electre more closely follows Euripides' version of the myth than either Aeschylus' or Sophocles', but the French playwright has expanded the basic outline of the legend with a subplot. This subplot, involving the president of the tribunal and his unfaithful wife Agathe, is handled in an almost Elizabethan or Shakespearian manner, sometimes running parallel to the main story, and sometimes merging with it.
In Euripides* play, Electra is married to a peasant who has, however, never touched her. As Giraudoux's play opens, we find that his Electra is engaged to a gardener. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra hope to solve the problem the inflexible Electra presents by marrying her off to a man of the lower class. Electra is an intransigent virgin like Anouilh's Antigone. She is, according to the president, "le type de la
femme a histoires,"3 the kind of woman who brings hell on earth. Orestes feels that such a woman makes trouble because she has a
!S. A. Rhodes, "France and Belgium" in A History of Modern Drama, ed. Clark and Freedley, p. 307.
2Ibid.
3Jean Giraudoux, Electre (Paris, I960), p. 26.


conscience; ten or fifteen femmes a histoires have saved the world
from egotism.1 Foreseeing the tragedy that an Electra can cause, the
president replies to Orestes:
Elles {les femmes a histoires] l'ont jle mondeTJ sauve du bonheurl Je la connais Electre J. Admettons qu'elle soit ce que tu dis, la justice, la generosite, le devoir. Mais c'est avec la justice, la generosite, le devoir, et non avec I'ego^sme et la facilite, que l'on ruine l'etat, l'individu et les meilleures families.2
Aegisthus sums up this quality of Electra1s by saying that she belongs with the poets and the philosophers who betray the earth by signaling to the gods from the hilltops where they have gone to separate themselves from the rest of mankind.3 To keep peace in the kingdom, Aegisthus has found it necessary to fight against those who "faisaient signe aux dieux." In Anouilh's Antigone, it may not be quite clear whether the author sides with Antigone or with Creon, but in Electre it is quite clear that Giraudoux is not in sympathy with his heroine. Her intransigence, her insistence on "truth" and "justice" bring destruction and death to her people.
Act I begins with the arrival of a stranger, in reality Orestes. He is accompanied by three little girls, the Eumenides. As the play progresses, the Eumenides grow until finally, after Orestes kills Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, they are the same size as Electra and begin to torment Orestes for his crimes. Orestes chats with the gardener while the little girls constantly interrupt. The palace of Argos is a strange building with a wing that "laughs" and a wing that "cries"; in the wing that "laughs" all sorts of tragedies have taken place. The gardener and the Eumenides provide the exposition by relating the
llbid., p. 28. 2Ibid. 3ibid., pp. U3-UU.


family history. Unsuccessful in his attempt to get rid of the trouble-
1
some little girls, the gardener says that they hang around like flies.
Finally the girl do leave, and the president of the tribunal and his
wife, Agathe, enter. The president and his wife are a comic couple
as she repeatedly interrupts him: but we later verify that Agathe, an
adulteress, detests her husband as Clytemnestra detested Agamemnon.
For Giraudoux, the human couple is the basis of society and the only
hope for the future. Hector and Andromaque, Amphitron and Alcmene are
happy couples; the unsuccessful marriages of the president and Agathe,
of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra are in essence tragic.
In this first scene with the president, Electra and her faults
are discussed in some detail. Preparation is given for the horrible
deed that Electra later demands of her brother. The gardener is a
distant relative of the president, who hopes to prevent the marriage
with Electra and keep the curse of the house of Atreus out of his
family. For the president, Electra's presence is more terrifying than
that of the most dangerous murderer. She will not let past crimes be
forgotten as they must be if man is to have peace. "A voir Electro je
sens s'agiter en moi les fautes que j'ai commises au berceau," he p
declares. Electra is allied with the worst enemy of the house of Atreus: "la justice integrale."3 Although E]_ectra may love her fiance's garden, the president warns the gardener what will happen if Electra is among the flowers:
n
Sartre's Les mouches is, in a sense, a reply to Giraudoux's Electre. We wonder if Sartre had this line in mind when he wrote h'is play.


Tu vas les connaftre enfin, tes fuschias et tes geraniums. Tu vas les voir cesser d'etre d'aimables symboles, et exercer a leur compte leur fourberie ou leur ingratitude. Electre au jardin, c'est la justice et la memoire entre les fleurs, c'est la haine.1
Electra with her justice that is hate destroys whatever she encounters. Even the dead are not left in peace.
The third scene brings Aegisthus on stage for the first time. He learns that Argos is being visited by a drunken beggar who is believed to be a god. If he is a god, he is a most unusual one, Aegisthus decides, for he neither changes grain to gold nor gets the maids pregnant. Is he really a god, does he deserve the royal treatment he has been getting? "Je crois que finalement cela revient encore moins cher d'honorer un mendiant que d'humilier un d'iau:;," the president advises Aegisthus.2 The gods are an important topic throughout the play. Aegisthus here is not sure about the gods, but he believes that he believes in them. "Entre les espaces et les durees, toujours en flirt, entre les gravitations et les vides, toujours en lutte, il est de grandes indifferences, qui sont les dieux."3 The gods are indifferent to humanity, but occasionally they reply to signals made to them without understanding what the signals are. Their justice is "extra-humaine"; it is wholesale justice, punishing the innocent as well as the guilty:
La peste eclate bien lorsqu'une ville a peche par impiete ou par folie, mais elle ravage la ville voisine, particulierement sainte. La guerre se dechatne quand un peuple degenire et s'avilit, mais elle devore les derniers justes, les derniers courageux, et sauve les plus laches.^
1Ibid., p. 33. 2Ibid., p. 36. 3ibid,, pp. 38-39. uIbid., p. UO.


Electra is allied with this divine justice that punishes with war, the greatest injustice of all, and exterminates guilty and innocent alike.
The gods are discussed again during intermission when the gardener, who breaks the illusion of reality by telling us that he is no longer in the game, has a long monologue. He feels that man should take the gods at their word and demand nothing from them; nothing is more convincing than silence, and silence is what the gardener wants as proof of the gods' affection. Is he suggesting that man would be happier x-rithout divine interference? Even Electra has no real faith in the morality of the gods. Clytemnestra tries to silence her daughter's accusations, warning her that the gods would blush to hear her talk like that. "Cela m'etonnerait," replies Electra. "lis rougissent rarement depuis quelque temps."1 Electra, in her search for justice, has been waiting in vain for a divine messenger, and her faith is shaken. "A votre franchise," she tells Aegisthus, "je reconnais l'hypocrisie des dieux, leur malice. Us ont change le parasite en juste, l'adultere en mari, l'usurpateur en roil"2 In her justice, Electra goes beyond the gods. The gods are only artists, she declares. "Une belle lueur sur un incendie, un beau gazon sur un champ de bataille, voila pour eux la justice."3 The gods might be content with Aegisthus' repentance, but Electra is inflexible in her desire for revenge.
Back in the third scene where the beggar first appears, the disguised god lets us know that he understands Electra, too, even if he does ramble in his drunken speech. Aegisthus would be far safer if
-'"Ibid., p. Ih3. 2Ibid., p. 185. 3Ibid., p. 192.


he killed Electra before she brought about disaster. Electra soon will act and will fulfill her destiny. "Quel jour, a quelle heure se declare-t-elle? Quel jour devient-el]e louve? Quel jour devient-elle Electre?"1 Electra must become Electra as Anouilh's Antigone must act to become Antigone. Aegisthus is afraid of Electra and with reason.
After three scenes of preparation, Electra finally comes on stage, accompanied by her mother with whom she constantly squabbles. Electra doesn't know yet that Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon and that Aegisthus is the queen's lover, but she is searching for the truth. Aegisthus finds it upsetting that Electra still weeps for her father as if she were the wife instead of the daughter: "je suis la veuve de mon pere, a defaut d'autres," Electra replies.2 Not so Freudian as O'Neill's heroine, this Electra nevertheless loved her father and hated her mother. She is Agamemnon's child; she is the result of her father's love:
Je suis nee de sa nuit de profond sommeil, de sa maigreur de neuf mois, des consolations qu'il prit avec d'autres femmes pendant que ma mere me portait, du sour ire paternel qui suivit ma naissance. Tout ce qui est de cette naissance du cote de ma mere, je le hais.3
Mother and daughter are also rivals as far as Orestes is concerned,
although neither of them knows that Orestes has returned. Once when
Orestes was a baby, he fell from his mother's arms. Electra contends
that her mother dropped him; Clytemnestra accuses Electra of having
pushed him. Time and time again the two women return to the quarrel.
According to the beggar, the truth is that the baby jumped.
Orestes, revealing his identity to Electra, takes the gardener's
1Ibid., p. $L. 2Ibid., p. 6l. 3ibid., p. 87


place as his sister's husband. Electra tells Orestes of her hatred for Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, but she still cannot explain the hatred. She does know that the hatred welcomes Orestes and is her love for him. Clytemnestra comes and tries once more to make peace with her daughter, but Electra is inflexible. Clytemnestra belongs to the "confrerie des femmes" and wants Electra on her side, but the young girl with her chastity is the enemy of the organization of women. Finally the mother recognizes Orestes, but she can do nothing to win back her son. He is Electra's now. Brother and sister fall asleep in each other's arms. As they sleep, the beggar ends the act with a long monologue. He predicts the destruction that Electra, the young girl who is the guardian of truth, will cause in her desire to punish the guilty. The brother and sister have reason to sleep now while they can. "C'est le premier repos d'ELectreJ ... C'est le dernier repos d'OresteJ"
Act II begins as the cock crows the next morning, Electra talks to the beggar as Orestes sleeps. Then Agathe enters with her young lover; it is evident that, not only is she an adultress, but she is unfaithful to her lover as well as to her husband. The quarreling couple leave, and the little Eumenides, now fifteen years old, come to warn Orestes against Electra. Orestes does want to run away, but Electra will not let him. Her night with Orestes has enlightened her; now she knows that Clytemnestra has a lover and that Agamemnon was murdered. Visions of her father's cadaver and her mother's body after death have shown Electra this much of the truth. Clytemnestra is coming, and Orestes awaits her with his sword.


But Orestes still hesitates to commit matricide. He wants his mother to convince him of her innocence. Electra tells her brother to wait off at a distance, and she will call him when she at last knows all of the truth.
Mother and daughter argue, and, as they talk, Clytemnestra gains sympathy. She was unhappily married. As a woman, she has the right to love. Electra, the virgin, finds satisfaction in waiting, but Clytemnestra, the woman, needs to love. Electra, of course, is not satisfied with her mother's justification for having a lover. She must know who the lover is and learn the whole truth. Like Oedipus, Electra cannot rest until all the dirty family linen is out in public.
The subplot of the president and his unfaithful wife merges now with the main plot. The angry husband chases Agathe out on stage and the wife confesses her hatred for him. Agathe is joining Electra's camp by ending the lie she has been living. She has deceived her husband with everything; with the wood of the bed she mechanically touches each morning, with her bath water, with the sound of birds, and the beauty of the day. Her lovers range from sixteen to eighty and include Aegisthus. When Agathe makes this final admission, Clytemnestra's reaction reveals to Electra the identity of her mother's lover.
Aegisthus enters, but he is no longer the man they have been I waiting for. The beggar first recognizes that Aegisthus has changed.
Before, he was a man of order who did nothing more than efficiently organize the kingdom. Now he is a man with a heart. He has viewed Argos from the mountains and is filled with love for his people. Only Electra will understand him, he feels, and it is Electra whom he has


come to seek. Does he love Electra? His words imply that he does.
The moment is broken by the arrival of a captain who reports that the Corinthians are invading Argos. The army will not obey a woman, so Aegisthus must marry Clytemnestra and become king in order to lead the soldiers and defend the city. Aegisthus must act immediately or it will be too late. But the other characters are not concerned with the impending disaster; they are too wrapped up in themselves. The president wants a man-to-man talk about Agathe. Electra protests that Aegisthus cannot save the country for his hands are not pure. Clytemnestra will not marry Aegisthus until the bird that has been circling over his head throughout the scene goes away. Deeply
concerned about the fate of Argos, Aegisthus begs Electra's forgiveness, but Electra calls for Orestes. Aegisthus warns her that she wants to sacrifice her family and her country to some dream, but Electra is willing to kill her people with a truth. For eight years Electra has been questioning the servants to find out how her father died; she refuses to believe he slipped in the bath, for Agamemnon never slipped. The Corinthians are already entering the city, determined to destroy Argos, but still Electra will not relent in her search for the truth. Clytemnestra must tell why she hated Agamemnon, how she rejoiced when he went away to war.
Clytemnestra urges Aegisthus to enchain Electra. Aegisthus, however, leaves her free and unties Orestes, whom he had previously bound. As he does so, the bird above his head circles lower; it is a vulture.
The beggars, the sick, and the blind of Argos come to rescue


Electra and her brother. In a long speech, the beggar relates the murder of Agamemnon. Then, for the benefit of this strange crowd that has gathered, he relates how Orestes is killing his mother and her lover off-stage. Clytemnestra, who resembles an innocent mother in her death, calls for her daughter Chrysothemis. Aegisthus, in his dying breath, calls for Electra.
The little Eumenides are now the same size and shape as Electra. They will relentlessly pursue Orestes. Argos is already being destroyed by the Corinthians, but Electra is content, for she has had her justice. The Narses woman, spokesman for the crowd, asks the beggar what is happening now:
Comment cela s'appelle-t-il, quand le jour se leve, comme aujourd'hui, et que tout est gache, que tout est saccage, et que l'air pourtant se respire, et qu'on a tout perdu, que la ville brule, que les innocents s'entretuent, mais que les coupables agonisent, dans un coin du jour que se leve?
The beggar replies:
* 1
Cela a un tres beau nom, femme Narses. Cela s'appelle l'aurore. Everything is, indeed, ruined, the innocent have died with the guilty, and only Electra is satisfied with the results of her inflexible justice.
In much of his writing, Giraudoux is concerned with the senseless destruction of war, with the causes of war, and with the need for ultimate peace and understanding between Germany and France. In 1935 with La Guerre de Troie, Giraudoux had already shown the inevitability of war in spite of the efforts of Hector and Ullyses to prevent armed conflict. By 1937 when Spain was in the midst of civil war and Europe


was already on the brink of World War II, Giraudoux could hardly have been expected to be optimistic. Electra may not have caused the war between Corinth and Argos, but her hatred and her unrelenting desire for revenge did lead to the ruin of her city. Giraudoux has used the classic legend to show the terrible consequences of revenge, of justice that is not seasoned with mercy. Even though she may have truth on her side, Electra is more of a villain than a heroine. In spite of the superficial wit of the dialogue, Giraudoux's Electre is not without profound meaning.
Six years later, Jean-Paul Sartre took the same Orestes-Electra legend and turned it into a vehicle for existentialist propaganda. Sartre fs first play, Les mouches was premiered in lii3 during the German occupation and carried to the French people a message of hope.
( Man is free. He can be killed, but his mind cannot be enslaved. Orestes
may act independently of the will of Zeus, and so may the French rebel against the Germans. Sartre's "desire to redeem occupied France from apathy sparked his dramatic writing" and resulted in a play that has been termed "provocative, refreshing, exalting."1 Les mouches was brought to the United States and staged off-Broadway by Piscator in 191*7 in the translation The Flies. American critics were impressed. One hailed The Flies as "perhaps the most intense and deeply considered
) view of the problem of freedom" in the century's theatre.2 Another felt
that Sartre's "philosophic melodramas cut deeper than any twentieth-century 'tragedy' has done or is likely to do."3 The major objection
Gassner, The Theatre in Our Times, pp. 34O-4I. 2Ibid., p. 337. 3Bentley, The Playwright as Thinker, p. 2Ul.


to the play has been that it is somewhat too intellectual and hence limited in its appeal.
Sartre's Orestes is a perfect example of an existentialist hero. He knows that he is free, that neither gods nor kings have any control over him. He also realizes that he must commit himself to a course of action, that he must be engage. Once he has become engage, he can have no regrets, for he accepts full responsibility for his deed and does not recognize his deed as being a crime. Unlike Anouilh's Antigone, he does not seek his own destruction, but rather desires to live. Like Anouilh's heroine and Giraudoux's Electra, he must act in order to achieve his own identity.
Fifteen years after Agamemnon's murder, Orestes returns to Argos. He is accompanied by his tutor, who has taught Orestes to be a detached
' observer who belongs to nothing. Argos is a city ruled by Zeus, god
of flies and death. For fifteen years the people of the town have known no happiness. They dress in mourning and thrive on remorse. Even little children are quiet, ever conscious of their original sin. Ever present in the city are the flies, outward symbol of the pestilential remorse. Unlike the other Electra plays, in Les mouches everyone is aware of the crimes of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. These crimes are public property, and the whole town is paying for them. Not only does
( Clytemnestra not hide her guilt, but she delights in talking about it:
Electra warns Orestes that the national pastime of Argos is public confession. Family skeletons are all aired in the town square.
Zeus himself has been following Orestes in his travels and approaches him now in Argos without revealing his identity. Subtly he tells the


young traveler, supposedly Philebus from Corinth, that if he were Orestes, not Philebus, it would be best for him to leave Argos at once. Zeus delights in the sorrows of these people, and he fears that Orestes will foolishly try to bring happiness back to the town.
The Aegisthus-Zeus regime is not without opposition. Electra is the resistance movement. Now nothing more than a servant to the royal couple, Electra defies authority by dumping ash cans next to Zeus1 statue. For years she has dreamt of revenge. Too weak to execute justice by herself, she awaits the return of Orestes, who will murder Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Everyone in Argos is sick with fear except ELectraj she is sick with hatred. She will not beg the god's forgiveness for a crime of which she is innocent. She will not fear the dead.
The day of Orestes' arrival is Dead Men's Day. Once a year, on the anniversary of Agamemnon's murder, Aegisthus stages this festival, culmination of remorse. With due ceremony, a huge rock is rolled away from the entrance to a vast cave that goes all the way to hell. The dead ascend to the town and torment the living. Aegisthus himself has almost come to believe this fable he has made up, and the townspeople certainly do suffer from mass hallucination. Only Electra has the courage to defy the king. On this day she arrives at the ceremony dressed in white. Having put aside the mourning clothes of Argos, she dances in front of the crowds and urges them to throw off fe.heir remorse. A number of the citizens begin to agree with Electra; she must be right
or the gods would strike her down for blasphemy. Fearing that he is losing control over Argos, Zeus causes the great stone to move, and the people, horrified at this sign from the gods, turn against Electra and her beliefs.


Orestes has not yet revealed himself to Electra. After the fiasco at the ceremony, he urges her to run away. She will not. She had hoped to cure Argos with words; now she knows that evil alone can conquer another evil. She still waits for Orestes to come and take vengeance while she directs his rage. At last Orestes identifies himself. Electra is disappointed: this is a noble soul, an almost effeminate man, not the powerful accomplice of her dreams. As Orestes thinks about Argos and the plague of remorse that enshrouds the city, he realizes xahat he must do. He must become engage. He must take upon himself all of the pangs of conscience and free the city.
In the palace, Zeus comes to warn Aegisthus against Electra and Orestes. Aegisthus is a lonely man who feels no remorse; although he imposes remorse on his people in order to control them, he himself does not believe in it. What rules Aegisthus is not love or lust, but a passion for order. If he conspires with Zeus, it is because they have something in common. Kings are mortal versions of gods, fashioned in the image of the gods; they share a fear of men who know that they are free. One free man in a city can cause disaster; his freedom is contagious and can infect a whole kingdom. The gods have two secrets, Zeus tells Aegisthus. Men are free, and once they know they are free, the gods are powerless against them. Zeus can do nothing now; Aegisthus must stop Orestes.
Zeus' warning is too late. Orestes and Electra are already in the palace. Orestes kills both Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. After committing his deed, Orestes feels no remorse, for he knows that what he did was right. Electra, however, is afraid. The Furies descend upon them, and they take refuge in Apollo's temple.


In the third act, brother and sister are waking up after spending the night clutching the statue of Apollo. The Furies hover near-by and torment Electra. Zeus also comes to reason with Orestes and Electra. Orestes feels no anguish and no remorse. He is free as all men are free. Electra, too, is free and must rid herself of remorse. Electra, however, is too weak and repents, agreeing to be Zeus' slave and return to mourning. Orestes, on the other hand, faces the angry people of Argos and walks away from the town into the sunlight, taking the flies and the Furies with him as the piper once rid Hamlin of the rats.
Les mouches is predominately a propaganda vehicle for existentialist philosophy. The action of the play centers around a duel between God and man. God does not exist except in man's mind, but, because there are men who do believe in a deity, God cannot be ignored by anyone, not even by the man who is free. The free man must also try to bring this knowledge of freedom to others. In a sense, Orestes is a Nietzschean hero, a man who knows that God is dead and that he himself is more than just an "average man." Orestes is an Ubermensch. Like Gide's Oedipus, he follows a god that is himself. He even considers himself to be the savior of his people and takes upon himself the flies of Argos as Christ took upon himself the sins of mankind.
Les mouches is a drama of ideas, and, unlike many of the other contemporary French adaptations of Greek legends, is not intended to be humorous. There are moments of dramatic irony, but no real comic irony as in Giraudoux*s play. Little resemblance does indeed exist among these three Electra plays. Electra is the dominant figure of both O'Neill's trilogy and Giraudoux's adaptation. Sartre shines the r


spotlight on Orestes and makes him far stronger in character than his sister. Emphasis shifts from psychology in O'Neill to political problems in Giraudoux to philosophy in Sartre. That the Electra-Orestes legend could be used in three such different ways and that Peman could give the myth yet a fourth adaptation prove once again the flexibility of the Greek tragic figures.
One of the few similarities between Sartre's play and the adaptations of his predecessors is the discussion of resemblance between Electra and Clytemnestra. Giraudoux's Electra is in complete opposition to her mother: she wants to forget that her mother even gave birth to her. O'Neill's heroine, too, wants to escape any resemblance to her mother, but she does look like her and, at least in Orin's mind, assumes her role after the suicide. Sartre's Clytemnestra recognizes the similarity between herself and her daughter; Electra, although she wants to be totally unlike her mother, is very much like Clytemnestra used to be. She has the same character that will lead her to commit a crime for which she must eternally repent. After the double murder when Electra begins to feel remorse, her eyes assume the same dead look that Orestes had previously noted about Clytemnestra. Sartre, like O'Neill, uses symbolism. The "dead eyes" represent the feelings of guilt in Clytemnestra and Electra. The flies represent the pestilential remorse of Argos. Statues are used as reminders of the gods. O'Neill has shown psychoanalytical problems in terms of symbols. Sartre has transposed "philosophical issues into symbolical drama. "-1-
kirossvogel, The Self-Conscious Stage. , p. 138.


When Peman decided to do an adaptation of Electra, it was with the intention of creating a modern version of the classic myth. Following the example of Cocteau, Giraudoux, Anouilh, and Sartre, this adaptation of Greek legend would be written in "contemporary speech" and set in a highly "stylized Greece."1 Realizing that a certain amount of humor would naturally result from such a modernization of ancient myth, Peman decided to write his "tragi-comedy in two parts" in prose, for prose is a more natural vehicle for humor than is poetry.2 At the beginning of Peman's play, Electra would still be a child, but, in the course of the action, a fierce tenacity would develop from her childish
ingenuousness. The conflict between Clytemnestra and Electra would, in essence, be that of frivolous maturity confronting intransigent youth. This is, to a great extent, the same mother-daughter conflict that Giraudoux dramatized. Aegisthus would be nothing more than a fatuous politician.
Peman's Electra (19h9) met with less success than his other, less revolutionary adaptations of Greek legends. Electra was written for an intellectual minority, and its short run was not surprising for just this reason. Several of the plays being discussed in this thesis were not written with popular appeal in mind, but rather were intended for a limited audience. A play like Sartre's Ees mouches, for example, probably will not remain in theatre repertory; its immediate success was due to the timeliness of its political message to the French people.
Lpeman, "Autocrtica" to Electra, Obras completas, IV", 186. 2Ibid., p. 1857.


xElectra, Obras oompletas, IV, 1862.
Peman begins his play before the return of Agamemnon to Argos. Borrowing from Aeschylus, Peman opens the action with a guard who has spotted the bonfire signalling the end of war and the return of Agamemnon. Instead of having one sentinal as in the Greek tragedy, Peman introduces a second guard and even a chief of the company. The chief is extremely pleased about the bonfire, for it was he who devised this clever means of rapid communication. "We have conquered time and space," he declares."*" Later he learns that he hasn't conquered anything. Agamemnon arrives a few minutes after the signal. One of the men stationed on a hillside to light a fire was a newly-wed, more interested in his bride than in bonfires; runners had to be sent out with the message just as before the chief devised his ingenious method of relating news. The whole situation, comic and ironic as it is, is original with Peman but somehow seems to have a Giraudoux flavor about it.
Argos awaits the return of Agamemnon. The pedagogue, another character reminiscent of Giraudoux humor, philosophically comments that Agamemnon may be a great king, but "nadie es nunca tan magnffico como su ausencia y su recuerdo."2 Clytemnestra and Aegisthus pretend to be delighted at the news; Aegisthus, a man of order as in Giraudoux's and Sartre's plays, actually is concerned with bringing the accounts up to date and erecting an arch of triumph in Agamemnon's honor. "Mi papel es administrar. Mi entusiasmo es tan grande como el vuestro; pero mi


mision es calcular," he tells Clytemnestra. Neither of the two really belongs to Argos, even though she is queen and he is an efficient administrator. Handsome enough to win a woman's love, Aegisthus nevertheless cannot win the love of a people as Agamemnon can. Showing their affection for Agamemnon, the people call him "el gordo"j Aegisthus has not been able to earn a nickname.
Electra has been reared by her mother and her uncle in a state of ignorance. She does not know what a kiss is or what it means to love. She doesn't understand the story about Menelaus and Helen. Nor does she realize that the couples she sees are young people in love. The daughter of Agamemnon is closely watched by Clytemnestra's old nurse, but often she escapes from her and mingles with the people, just as her mother, too, used to run away. The innocent young girl, now seventeen years old, but still a child, appears with bare feet and disheveled hair. Clytemnestra also has not combed her hair on this day of Agamemnon's return; Peman highlights the similarity of the hair of mother and daughter as does O'Neill.
Cassandra and a messenger arrive. In flowery language, the messenger begins to relate how Troy was taken and why the bonfire signal did not reach Argos before the ships themselves. "Dos veces ha hecho la luna su carrera y veinte veces el sol ha dorado la cumbre del Aracneo ..."
"No mezcles la poesia con el almanaque ..." interrupts Clytemnestra.2 once again the humor and the style seem to be influenced by Giraudoux.


Cassandra in Peman's play is no longer the dignified priestess. She is more of a mercenary fortune teller. After making obscure comments to the people of Argos, she automatically puts out her hand, waiting for the customary fee. However, she does tell Electra, "Tienes nombre de tragedia de gran publico.""1' Once again the characters are aware that they are playing parts. Electra is a tragic heroine and Aegisthus has the role of administrator.
By now Clytemnestra realizes that both Cassandra and Agamemnon must die. Agamemnon returns and is warmly greeted by his people, who welcome a change from Aegisthus1 peace where nothing ever happens. In the few minutes before he enters the palace and goes to his death, Agamemnon alienates Aegisthus because he hasn't even noticed the arch of triumph and destroys Electra's innocence by kissing her. He also objects to all the flowers that Aegisthus has planted around the palace: Aegisthus removes the flowers in the second act.
Agamemnon is killed. Clytemnestra drove Aegisthus to the deed by reminding him that she would have to love her husband if he lived. The
people grieve at the news of the king's death. Aegisthus naturally pleads for order. Only Electra remains silent and does not cry. Today she has learned what to kiss, to love, and to die mean.
The second part opens when the Orestes-Electra legend usually begins. The palace facade is no longer adorned with flowers: Aegisthus has taken Agamemnon's advice. Townspeople discuss the situation. As in O'Neill's play, it is suggested that Agamemnon died from the over-excitement of homecoming and love-making. The people discuss the


nickname Aegisthus so badly wants and that they will not give him. Someone does suggest calling him "Clitemnestro." Aegisthus tries to be a good ruler: his office is always open to his people. But sadly he realizes that his efforts are in vain: he knows that he will never be anything more to Argos than "el otro." Even worse, the love he and Clytemnestra once shared has deteriorated: they needed Agamemnon to spark their passion.
Electra has refused to go to her father's funeral, but she has visited his tomb and found a lock of hair there. The young girl realizes that there is something she must do, but she doesn't yet know what. "Yo tengo la vaga idea de que tengo muchos, muchos duros deberes."1 She wants her mother's affection, and yet she cannot end their estrangement. She knows that her mother killed Agamemnon, but she does not know why. Peman here manipulates the plot quite noticeably to give Electra the opportunity to understand her mother's motivation. She overhears a lovers' quarrel; the young man is jealous of a former lover of his girlfriend. Electra takes the jealous man aside and tells him that the former lover is returning to Argos. Through her deception, she learns that a jealous man would kill for love. Now she understands why Agamemnon died. She stares at Clytemnestra's hands, looking for the traces of the crime. As in Antigona, Peman uses the symbol of dirty hands to represent an act that has been accomplished.
Like Antigone, Electra is inflexible. "Tengo la logica terrible
p
del viento," she tells her mother. The pedagogue had already compared Electra with the wind, calling her "(Un Agamenon ... inocentei \Gravel


1Ibid., p. 186U. 2Ibld. 3ibld., p. 18?U.
La fuerza ciega: la tormenta, el viento ... h1 The nurse in her fondness for the girl had corrected him, "No, no. Tu lo complicas todo ... Mi nina Electra no es el viento. Es una brisa perfumada ... "2 Now Electra admits her own intransigence. "Somos dos fuerzas ciegas," she declares to Clytemnestra.-3 Realizing that Electra's intransigence stems from her chastity, Clytemnestra promises to find her a prince so that she, too, will know that love exists. As in Giraudoux's play, Clytemnestra is trying to bring Electra into the woman's camp. Electra rejects the offer. "Estoy sola tNo es para el amor para lo que Electra necesita a su lado un hombre fuerte.'"^
Clytemnestra leaves and a young stranger, owner of the lock of hair, comes to Electra, not knowing who she is. Naturally he is Orestes. He is about to kiss Electra when the nurse calls her and he realizes that the young girl is really his sister. Peman avoids all hint of conscious incestuous love between brother and sister. In their scene together, Electra once again asserts that she wants to bear no resemblance to her mother. Orestes, possibly influenced by O'Neill, comments on Clytemnestra's hair. Gaining strength from her brother's presence, Electra begins to tell him the truth about Agamemnon's death. At first Orestes will not believe, just as Orin does not accept Lavinia's story. Orestes has too many memories of his mother's love. As a final blow, Electra tells of Aegisthus* relationship with the queen. "El ha puesto sus manos sucias sobre tu bello recuerdo."^ Orestes goes to see Clytemnestra, pretending to bear a message for the queen. Encountering


Aegisthus instead, Orestes is upset by Aegisthus1 use of the royal "we"
and his assumption of the power that rightly belongs to Orestes. The
young man kills Aegisthus, but Electra tells the queen, who comes running,
that her lover killed her son. Clytemnestra is not upset until she
sees Aegisthus1 body. Orestes looks in his mother's eyes, hears her
scream, and knows that Clytemnestra loved Aegisthus more than she did
Orestes. Like O'Neill's Christine, Clytemnestra has nothing to live for
and commits suicide. Not really concerned that Orestes is persecuted
by the Furies, Electra says goodby to her brother, who is leaving Argos,
and assumes the throne herself. Her ambition is to rule and to become
"la gorda" to the people of Argos.
Peman's Electra differs to a large extent from the other three
plays we have discussed. He is not at all concerned with Freudian
psychology as is O'Neill nor with the problem of revenge as is Giraudoux
or with man's fight for freedom as is Sartre. Peman doesn't really
seem to be concerned with any problem: there is no obvious underlying
theme to this play as with the other three. The characters are neither
well delineated nor carefully analysed.- The gods do not appear. If
there is any serious commentary at all, it may be in Aegisthus' brief
comments on war. Orestes refers to the "poema epico de esa guerra,
generosa por el honor y la belleza," but Aegisthus condemns the whole
battle, fought for the sake of a coquette:
Bueno, entre nosotros ... En eso se ha exagerado mucho ... Los poetas complican el asunto. En el fondo, fue un poco atropellado aquello. La agricultura sufrio mucho con la ausencia de los muchachos. Desde aquello de Troya, tenemos escasez ... Hago esfuerzos agotadores por lograr un buen sistema de abastosJ1


The whole arguement seems to be an echo from Giraudoux's La Guerre de Troie.
Peman's Electra is not a direct imitation of any other modern adaptation of the legend. That is to say that Peman has not followed the plot outline and play structure used by some other author. He has added bits and pieces of originality in plot development and in individual situations. Certainly his ending with Electra taking the throne is not even remotely hinted at in the other plays we have discussed. Nevertheless, although the play is interesting, it seems to be too greatly influenced in tone, in ironic humor, and in certain characters by the work of other playwrights, particularly Giraudoux, to stand on its own merits. Whether or not the similarities with Mourning Becomes Electra are concidences, we can only guess, but it seems quite apparent that Peman had Giraudoux's Electre and La Guerre de Troie fresh in mind when he set about writing his Electra. This Electra, Peman's only modernization of Greek legend that is meant to reflect twentieth century speech and atmosphere, is far less original in many respects than his more faithful adaptations of Greek tragedy and myth.


CHAPTER V OEDIPUS ON THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE
The past three centuries have produced a number of adaptations of the Oedipus legend, including those of Corneille, Voltaire, Dryden, and Martinez de la Rosa.1 The greatest defect in at least some of these plays is the addition of a subplot to supplement the story as presented by Sophocles. Contemporary playwrights, too, have been faced with the problem of adding to the material provided them by the Greek tragedy, and, in each of the three modern adaptations to be discussed here, the author has found a different solution. Gide yielded to the same temptation as did his predecessorsCorneille, Voltaire, and Drydenby adding a subplot of incestuous love between Oedipus' sons and daughters. Cocteau only used the Sophoclean tragedy as the inspiration for the last act of his play; he based his first three acts on earlier incidents in the Oedipus story, either drawing entirely from his imagination or developing events mentioned only as exposition in the Greek tragedy. Peman succeeds in maintaining unity of both action and time by supplementing the plot outline with additional speaking roles and increased use of the chorus.
Of these three versions of Oedipus, Gide's is the earliest. Written in 1930 as a play to be read but not staged, Gide's Oedipe
NrJe have already briefly mentioned these plays in the opening chapter, pp. 2-U.


nevertheless was produced by Georges Pito*e\ff in Paris in 1932. In 1951 Jean-Louis Barrault revived it. Gide had already had plays on the French stage in 1901, but the success of his other writings has overshadowed his theatrical endeavors. Speaking of Oedipe, Gide termed his play a "divertissement de lettre, et, si 1'on veut, d'une farce de haut goftt sur un theme tragigue."1 A tragical farceor a farcical tragedymay be intellectually interesting, but it hardly qualifies as great drama. It is with reason that Gide's play is usually considered inferior to Cocteau's treatment of the same theme.
Although quite short, Oedipe is divided into three acts. The first act begins, as does the Greek, with Oedipus entering and speaking.-But Gide's Oedipus, unlike the Greek, is fully aware that he is playing a role. In his opening lines, he describes himself there "pareil a quelqu'un que s'avancerait sur le devant d'un theatre et qui dirait: Je suis Oedipe.1,2 All theatrical illusion of reality is destroyed. This is the same technique used by Giraudoux and Anouilhj the actors are aware that they are taking part in a tragedy. Gide's Oedipus already knows that he was a foundling, that his parents are unknown. Another Oedipus might be upset by this situation, but this Oedipus is delighted. If he has no parents, he owes nothing to anyone. He is relieved to have no past. Gide himself spent much of his lifetime trying to prove that he was free and owed nothing to his puritan
'-Yves Gandon, "L'Opinion d'Yves Gandon sur Oedipe et Maguelone," France Illustration, April lii, 1951, p. 287.
2Gide, Oedipe, in Theatre (26th ed.; Paris, 19u2), p. 253.
a
-'Anouilh's hero in Le voyageur sans bag ages also decides to be freed from the past and from family.


childhood; Oedipus' situation is an ideal one as far as Gide is concerned. Comically, Oedipus rambles in his speech, but he wishes to be direct like an arrow; this, of course, is precisely his flaw.
Gide's Oedipus is happy. Thebes is suffering from the plague, but the king is untouched by the misery around him. The chorus, fully aware of its role, persuades the king to consult Teiresias. The chorus is also aware that Oedipus has been defying the gods, so they make sacrifices to bribe the gods into taking all their wrath out on Oedipus instead of on the town; even the plague-ridden townspeople in Gide's play are not very sympathetic.
Returning from the oracle, Creon comes to announce that there is something rotten in the kingdomno doubt a paraphrase from Hamlet. Oedipus wants a full report from Creon to be given in front of the chorus and Oedipus' family. "Why didn't you ever tell me about Laius' murder?" he asks Jocasta. Oedipus never wanted to hear about the past, she explains, adding that it is now all ancient history anyway. Teiresias enters, and Oedipus is rude to him; Oedipus does not fear God, and Teiresias represents religion. The chorus warns Oedipus that even kings cannot have the last word with the blind seer. Oedipus had previously defied God and Teiresias by killing off flocks of birds that had bothered him; with the birds gone, insects had destroyed the crops, and the people had gone hungry. But Oedipus still ridicules Teiresias' mystical interpretation of events.
Little Ismene faints when Polyneices describes diseased dead bodies, so Oedipus sends away his family and the chorus to talk in private with Creon, The post-Freudian king admits that his love for


Jocasta is almost that of a son. Creon tells Oedipus about the oracle and Laius and how the royal couple had planned to have no children but had been careless. The child of Jocasta and Laius was, Oedipus sums up, an "enfant de l'ivresse."1
Teiresias comes now to have a private chat with Creon. Oedipus, he explains, is too tranquil. His peaceful happiness is impious. He is setting a bad example for his sons, who are escaping from Teiresias' control. Gide has turned the ancient legend into a conflict between the free-thinker and organized religion. Teiresias declares that Oedipus must bow to God much in the same way that Zeus hoped to dominate Sartre's Orestes. Jocasta announces that Antigone wants to enter an order and become a vestal virgin. Here is Teiresias' triumph, Teiresias, who declares, "Je ne suis que 1'instrument de Dieu." God only completely inspires the blind, and Teiresias is this blind instrument of God.
Act II begins with a dialogue between the conservative Creon and the liberal Oedipus. Their conversation is modern in tone and irrelevant to the action. Oedipus clearly states that he has no past and must create his own future. Gide manipulates the story and his characters in a series of scenes related to the subplot. Creon and Oedipus eavesdrop, and Polyneices asks Antigone if she could marry her brother. Then Eteocles and Ismene happen by while Creon and Oedipus remain in hiding. Ismene ironically comments on how inseparable these two brothers are, how they share everything. Never were there such devoted brothers . ,
!Gide, op_. cit., p. 26ii. According to one version of the Oedipus legend, Laius, not Jocasta, had been warned by the oracle not to have children. Laius therefore abandoned his wife, but Jocasta seduces him one night when he is drunk. Oedipus is born of this night of drunkeness. Cf. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths: 2 (Baltimore, 1961), p. 9.


Antigone returns and Eteocles leaves. Antigone is sad and Ismene, happy; the former is greatly disturbed by her father's happiness.
The devoted brothers once again take the spotlight and begin discussing ways of seducing Ismene; should they succeed, they are not \dlling to share her, and thus jealousy comes between them. Good students of Freud, they begin to analyze their dreams; but Oedipus pops up to tell them that he sees his own character in them but that they really should respect their sisters. Crusading against Teiresias and religion, Oedipus preaches to his sons. "Man" was the answer to the Sphinx's riddle, and "Man" is the only answer in life.1 Teiresias interrupts, bringing us back at last to the main action of the play. Oedipus can teach nothing but pride to his sons, Teiresias feels. Oedipus has followed a false god, a god he thought was himself, and his happiness does not really exist. Ironically, Oedipus comments that one would think that he, and not Teiresias, was blind.
When younger, Oedipus had listened to God, but he ceased believing and ceased going to the altar after killing the traveler when on his way to the oracle. Teiresias repeats that Oedipus' happiness is blind. Alone, Oedipus realizes he had never taken time to reflect. Now he must. "Un grand destin m'attend ... Reveille-toi de ton bonheur," he advises himself.2
In Act III, Oedipus questions Jocasta as he goes forth on his search for truth. The thought has been planted in his mind by Creon
iGide prefaces his play with the line from Sophocles' Antigonet "Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man."
^ide, o. cit., p. 289.


that Laius had to be killed for Oedipus to be king. Immediately Oedipus realizes that he is the murderer. "N'auras-tu pas pitie de ton bon-heur?" asks Jocasta,1 but Oedipus continues with his probe. He has pity for nothing. "Je veux d'abord descendre au plus bas de gouffre."2 With a keener mind than his predecessors, Oedipus realizes at once that he was Laius1 son. "Ah! Par exemplel" exclaims Creon,^ and then he makes a series of comic comments on family relationships.
"En vain m'appelait l'avenir. Jocaste me tirait en arriere," affirms this Oedipus^ much as Cocteau's hero will find himself drawn to his mother. Oedipus' happiness was only an illusion, for he had not succeeded in renouncing his past. He tries to send Jocasta away from him. Teiresias tells Oedipus to repent, but Oedipus doesn't see why he should. He had been trapped by God all along. And he had not needed ^ to kill Laius to become king: he could have inherited the throne. God
had pushed him to that murder, and afterwards he had turned his back on God.
Jocasta is left on stage alone with her regrets. She leaves, and the chorus, in a Peman-style dialoguethe speech is divided among individual members of the choruscomments on her leaving. This is a family affair and does not concern the chorus. Their only interest is that the king should sacrifice himself to save them. ) Teiresias enters with the four children. Antigone defends her
father while Polyneices and Eteocles, "following Oedipus' example," prepare to take over the throne.
^Ibid., p. 293. 2Ibid., p. 29k. 3lbid. Iffbid.


Now blind, Oedipus enters, and Antigone runs to him. Rather upset, Teiresias realizes that Oedipus has put out his eyes, not from repentance, but from pride, for he had been jealous of Teiresias1 superiority as a blindman. He has punished his eyes that were not all seeing enough to warn him, even though all the gods wanted was his repentance. This "pride" hardly seems like sufficient motivation for a man to blind himself; Gide has really not satisfactorally explained Oedipus1 act. Oedipus is surprised that Teiresias, the man who believes in an all-powerful God, would expect Oedipus to repent about something over which he, a simple mortal, had no control. Creon orders him to leave Thebes; Antigone renounces being a vestal virgin to go with her father. "En m'e"chappant de toi, Tiresias, je resterai fddele aDieu. Mime il me semble que je le servirai mieux, suivant mon pere, que je ne faisai pres de toi."1 Teiresias and religion have not triumphed after all.
Ismene, completely in character, volunteers to go with Oedipus too if he will wait long enough for her to prepare proper mourning clothes for the trip. Teiresias predicts that wherever Oedipus1 bones rest will be blessed ground, and the Thebans urge Oedipus to stay after all and not give the blessing to some other people. "Quels qu'ils soient, ce sont des hommes," Oedipus replies. "Au prix de ma souffrance, il m'est doux de leur apporter du bonheur."2 Oedipus has not repented; he still believes in Man and in the possibility of Man's happiness, even through suffering.
In his Oedipe, Gide has certainly given a new twist to the ancient


legend. The conflict "between Oedipus and religion, between Man and God, is a twentieth century problem, Gide's own conflict. The discussion of this problem is interesting, if not dramatic. A number of effectively
comic lines lighten the dialogue, but the play still is not very satisfactory. The entire second act is unnecessary, and the subplot takes } a great deal away from the play without adding anything significant.
Gide's own description of Oedipe as a "divertissment de lettre" is quite accurate.
Cocteau's La machine infernale, first staged in 193k, is the most
successful contemporary French setting of the Oedipus legend and the
best of Cocteau's plays inspired by classical tragedy. It is completely
in keeping with Cocteau's efforts to bring surrealism and symbolism to
the stage while destroying all element of suspense for the audience.
I Such an eminent theatre critic as John Gassner deplores Cocteau's plays
and their lack of reality; the gods devised an infernal machine for the
destruction of man, and Cocteau devised a machine for the destruction
of the theatre "as an art that affords the illusion of reality. "-1-
Others find in the play an advance toward living poetic drama, even
p
though it is written in prose. As usual, Cocteau is caught within the controversy of whether he is a great creative genius or a man with nothing to say who somehow manages to join avant-garde movements at the ^ proper moment to gain credit for being a leader. Certainly it would be
exaggerated to call the man a genius; his work attracts attention
Gassner, The Theatre in Our Times, p. 182.
2Francis Fergusson, "Poetry in the Theatre and Poetry of the Theatre: Cocteau's Infernal Machine," English Institute Essays, 19k9, ed. Alan S. Downer (New York, 1950), p. 55.


because it is startling, revolutionary, or theatrically effective, not because it has a lasting literary value. La machine infernale is an excellent example; on stage it would be most effective, while a careful reading brings to notice many flaws or exaggerations.
The play opens with a voice, originally portrayed by Cocteau himself. The voice gives away the whole plot, freeing the audience from suspense or any illusion of reality. The voice also prefaces each act and entirely replaces the chorus. The characters have no control oTer their destiny; the gods have already set the trap, or series of traps.
Act I is a product of Cocteau's imagination. The scene is the ramparts of Thebes. Thebes is a modern city; in the background we hear the music from the nightclubs and the bars. Details of lighting have been carefully explained throughout the play to assure weird effects: "Les quatre actes baignent dans l'eclairage livide et fabuleux du mercure."1 The sets are built on a platform that slants at different angles to give different views. It is a stormy night; soldiers are keeping watch on the ramparts. The ghost of Laius has appeared to them several times with a message for Jocasta, and they have sent word of this supernatural event to the queen. Any resemblance between this and the appearance of the ghost in Hamlet is probably intentional. The soldiers talk of the Sphinx who is lurking outside the walls of Thebes; their chief sneaks up on them and interrupts. A comic figure, this chief is a "petit fonctionnaire" and definitely more twentieth century French than ancient Greek. He wants to know more about the ghost. The
*-La machine infernale in The French Theater since 1930, ed. Oreste F. Bucciani (Boston, 195^), p. 28.


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