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Eliot through Tolkien: Estrangement, Verse Drama, and the Christian Path in the Modern Era

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title
Eliot through Tolkien: Estrangement, Verse Drama, and the Christian Path in the Modern Era
author
Reynolds, Hannah Elaine
abstract
This thesis explores the function of T. S. Eliot’s use of verse drama as an estranging mechanism that enables his exploration of questions of spiritual moment on the Modern stage. J.R.R. Tolkien’s theory of fantasy, as outlined in his essay “On Fairy Stories,” serves as the framework for my analysis of three of Eliot’s major plays: Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Family Reunion (1939), and The Cocktail Party (1949). I argue that Eliot finds in verse drama the same capabilities that Tolkien extols in fairy-stories. Through a work alienated from the receiver by time, setting, and/or a distinctness from everyday life, the audience can move through the stages of "Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, and Consolation" that Tolkien explains as occurring in fairy-stories. This reading of Eliot’s plays highlights his use of the genre of verse drama ("Fantasy") to present to his Modern, largely secular audience the Christian path of "Recovery, Escape, and Consolation." This thesis also attends to the expansion and development of Eliot’s theology and poetic theory over the course of the plays, tracking especially his gradual acknowledgement of the space for the natural within the supernatural and the supernatural within the natural life.
subject
Christianity
Eliot
T. S.
Modernism
Tolkien
J.R.R.
verse drama
contributor
Kuberski, Philip (committee chair)
Wilson, Eric (committee member)
Maine, Barry (committee member)
date
2017-06-15T08:36:02Z (accessioned)
2017-06-15T08:36:02Z (available)
2017 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/82213 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
type
Thesis

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