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10.5593/sgemsocial2018H/61/S11.038

THE WAY OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE IN SHAKESPEARE’S AND T. S. ELIOT’S PLAYS

A. Popescu
Tuesday 10 April 2018 by lib_admin

References: 5th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM 2018, www.sgemvienna.org, SGEM2018 Vienna ART Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7408-34-8 / ISSN 2367-5659, 19 - 21 March, 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 6.1; 305-312 pp, DOI: 10.5593/sgemsocial2018H/61/S11.038

ABSTRACT

Though distant in time and style, the two classics of the European culture display a common and deep understanding of the human nature and of humanity’s way of reaching its purpose and truth. Refined observers of human behaviour, they both emphasize, each in his own manner, and with specific artistic means, the human need for self-knowledge and accomplishment, and the way it fails or succeeds in attaining them. With both playwrights, there is no way to self-knowledge and happiness but in the mirror of another conscience and in relationship to it, be it a human or a divine eye. With Shakespeare, masks are always intended to hide one’s identity only to the moment of its revelation. His characters wear it in order to come closer to someone dear, sometimes to tame him or her, some other times to penetrate into and break the enmity, fury and revenge of a house by charm and purity and love. There is always a matter of life and death in the confrontation of deceit and in the triumph of truth, either in comedies or tragedies.
With T. S. Eliot, there is another kind of “mask” that needs to be taken off, so that the human being may find relief in self-knowledge and truth. In his plays, social “masks” hide the true inner image of the characters; they have a face “prepared” even for the family, the closest ones, for fear of what they could discover in their past life and of being rejected. Giving up such a mask becomes an act of courage and the beginning of recovering integrity and truthfulness, and thus, true relationships. It represents a beginning of real life. For T. S. Eliot, the opposite of life is unreality, while the qualification of “unreal” is equal to spiritual death and loss of life content. A character’s recovery is built on the foundation of a healing truth.

Keywords: mask, identity, unreality, self-knowledge, healing truth


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