Pathos and irony in selected plays by J.M. Synge and Athol Fugard
Potloane, Lebusa Victor
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The main problem addressed in this study was whether the modal concepts of irony and pathos can be said to have permeated and featured significantly in the works of John Millington Synge and Athol Fugard, thus underlining certain similarities and divergences in the selected plays: Riders to the Sea, The Well of the Saints, The Playboy of the Western World, Hello and Goodbye, Boesman and Lena and The Bloodknot. Analyses of these plays were done in order to identify the manifestations respectively in terms of irony and pathos. Firstly the socio-political and historical perspective of the countries Ireland and South Africa was noted in order to provide the broader context within which to analyse the work of the said playwrights. Secondly, a number of critics' views have been considered in an attempt to place each playwright in his dramatic tradition. This account served to indicate that though Synge and Fugard come from different countries, historical periods and cultures, they echo each other very persuasively as they both deal with the human condition at the most basic level, while at the same time limiting themselves to the people in the lower end of the social scale for choice of characters. The concepts of pathos and irony were defined firstly by explanatory references from literary critics. From their given definitions, a number of working definitions were formulated by means of which the plays in question could be analysed. Three plays each by Synge and Fugard were thoroughly studied and analysed within a broadly semiotic framework. Irony and pathos have been seen to permeate the works of these playwrights. However, it has emerged from this study that while there is a remarkable similarity in the use of these concepts, pathos manifests itself greatly in Fugard's plays while irony is more distinct in Synge's plays. For this reason Synge's work could then be regarded as more universally acceptable, while Fugard’s work remains more strongly embedded in the notion of "committed literature". It was further concluded that Synge and Fugard' s work is intrinsically involved with the "particular" and yet certainly rises to the "universal". Their works proved to be not only important in themselves, but also to be far-reaching in their influence upon Irish, South African, and European literature.
- Humanities