April 28, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Modern Drama: Potential Exam Questions covid-19: day 47 | US: GA | info | exit

Posted for my ENGL 3900 course, spring 2020. Use these questions as a study guide to prepare for the final exam scheduled for Thursday, 4/30, at 1-3pm.

  1. Professor Literary Critic argues in general that Strindberg brings naturalism to the modern theatre, for example how bad parenting dooms Miss Julie by determining her character flaws and behaviors. Miss Julie, therefore, becomes a battle between Jean and Miss Julie that dramatizes interiority and psychology as a struggle for survival and dominance. Support this idea in Miss Julie and apply it to any two other plays we have read this semester.
  2. In the introduction to Hedda Gabler, the editor states that Ibsen’s play is “a tragedy of modern middle-class life” in which the “single-minded desire to achieve an ideal life wreaks destruction.” Support this assertion with evidence from the play and apply this idea to two other plays we have read for this semester.
  3. Chekhov’s drama reflects everyday life and the complexity of human experience, so a unified reading is often elusive. As a consequence, critic Richard Gilman has called his plays the “drama of the undramatic” in which spectators can read just about anything they want into the play. How does Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard use reality in its drama? Expand your discussion into two other plays we have read for this semester.
  4. Shaw’s Pygmalion is concerned with, among other things, class and gender inequality and how that affects power dynamics. How does Pygmalion and two other plays we read for this semester address these concerns?
  5. How do modern dramatists use language to represent their thematic concerns? For example, Shaw seems to suggest that language might be used to determine one’s social and economic position. In other words: how does language determine character? Explore this idea in Pygmalion and two other plays we read for this semester.
  6. Trifles teaches “its viewers to see as women.” How does it and two other plays we read this semester show the importance of new perspectives in challenging the status quo? (Note: this includes a consideration of style as well as theme.)
  7. According to our editor, Machinal dramatizes “how modern, patriarchal culture systematically precludes any opportunity for the young woman to experience true freedom or independence.” Illustrate this in Machinal and two other plays treatment of women from this semester.
  8. Waiting for Godot seems to attack, among other things, the “centuries-old tradition of rationality” that was a product of the Western Enlightenment and is challenged by the intellectual and political disruptions of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century. How does Beckett dramatize human existence in a world without meaning? Do other plays share this vision? In what ways?
  9. Trace a theme among three plays of your choice.
  10. Construct an essay of your choosing about any three plays we have read for this semester.