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Love Portrayal in Modern Drama

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Essay title: Love Portrayal in Modern Drama

Henrik Ibsen is considered to be the father of modern drama. His objectives were to “see accurately and recreate poetically the world and its people, beliefs, ideas, conflicts, and correspondences” (Mergentha). The essence of modern drama is to remake, or mirror the society in which the authors lived in. However, at times, these realistic concepts are introduced in an environment that is completely absurd and surreal. It can be explained as the author trying to gear our attention on the plot or the characters rather than the environment. Through this subjective description, various concepts and values were denounced that either favored or criticized the particular society and its customs. In drama the author tries to establish a relationship with the audience and conveys a message through various techniques; such as: irony, symbolisms, characterization, etc. In everyday life, love is the main aspect that helps us survive. Love is everywhere, from the day we are born, love is offered from parents to the day we pass away, love will always be present. Modern drama has a particular way to discuss, analyze and criticize love as it was in those times. The present paper will attempt to compare and contrast the portrayals of love in Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen, Happy Days by Samuel Beckett, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and Candida by George Bernard Shaw. We will observe whether love is always portrayed the same way, through study of the plays.

In the past, drama associated love with innocence and purity. For instance in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, love was eternal, true and irreversible. However, in modern drama, love seems to be approached with a pessimistic view. There is a lack of belief in eternal love or in true love. There is absolutely no romanticism. One can question if love really exists. Is love confused with sexual attraction or infatuation? What exactly is love?

Love is very difficult to define as it is not a solid concrete matter. It will always elude to our knowledge as there really is no scientific explanation or proof of what love exactly is. Psychiatrists could define it as the release of dopamine in the brain that gives us a feeling of well-being, whereas others could describe it as the sacrifices one makes and affection one has for another. Nevertheless, it is known that love can be categorized. The love one has for his mother will differ from the love given to a partner or a friend.

Modern drama seems to focus on the failure of relationships and marriages. In many plays, adultery seems to be very frequent. Could this be due to boredom and a lack of sensibility in society? For instance in Wild Duck, the main character is afflicted when he finds out that his wife had previously had an affair with Gregers who, by guilt, later on secretly aided Hialmar and his family. He then discovers that Hedvig in not his child and finds himself unable to forgive Gina (his wife). In Death of a Salesman, Willy also cheats on his wife with the woman, as she is referred to in the play. It is as though meaningless relationships are necessary to fulfill their lives, either to feed someone’s self-esteem (Willy) or to help themselves in achieving social status (Gina) or satisfy a sexual desire. (Werle).

Another form of relationship would be one of a loveless marriage. In Happy Days, Winnie seems to be struggling and dying from her relationship. She is trapped in a marriage with someone who is completely indifferent to anything she has to offer. Many times she has wanted to set herself free from that reality by committing suicide. The only way she could survive was by remembering her past, the good memories of her youth when Willy proposed to her.

Love is not the essence of relationships in these plays. Relationships and even marriage are formed based on convenience. In the case of Candida written by George Bernard Shaw, Morrel is married to Candida however, she is seemingly the center of the marriage. She is the one that makes the relationship move forward by knowing her husband and subtly manipulating him. Morell does not have to bother himself to do anything as Candida is always there; however, once his marriage is put at stake by Marchbanks, he becomes very confused, child-like even, and decides to fight for his wife. In this particular play, love is portrayed as being somewhat illogical and barbaric. Marchbanks claims that he is in love with Candida, but towards the end of the play, he realizes that she is not who he thought she was and he is suddenly awakened from his world of illusions. Candida is described by some of the characters as being amazingly beautiful. Infatuation and love seem to be one of the same for Marchbanks and Shaw is emphasizing on that point.

It is important to notice that in most of these plays, women play an important role. In general, they are the caring and loving ones who sacrifice themselves for their husband. In Death

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