奥尼尔和曹禺是在二十世纪的美国和中国文坛各领风骚的戏剧大师，他们的 代表作《榆树下的欲望》和《雷雨》更是当时社会的真实写照。本文采用比较文 学中平行研究的方法，从欲望、冲突、和命运这三个方面比较三组人物，从而挖 掘作品深刻的主题。守财奴凯伯特和封建制度卫道者周朴园，他们过度追求物质， 甚至将妻子当作生育的工具；传统的反抗者爱碧和繁漪，都是被财产化和奴隶化 人物，她们抗争不公平的命运，追求精神上的自由，却又引发了不正当的母子关 系；而具有俄狄浦斯情节的伊本和周萍，他们因恨转而报复父亲，内心充满了冲 突，最终毁灭了自己。通过比较，我们得出这样的结论，人们不可一味追求物质 生活而忽视精神生活的需求，应该在这两者之间寻求相对的平等。男女之间也应 相对平等，因为在人类活动中他们具有同等重要的作用。而乱伦则违反了人伦道 德原则，是为人所不耻的。
关键词：《榆树下的欲望》； 《雷雨》； 人物比较； 欲望； 社会启示
- Introduction 1
- Demonstration 1
- Background 1
- Writing objectives and the theme of the two plays 1
- The depiction of characters 2
- The comparison of characters 3
- Defender of conventions: Cabot Vs. Zhou Puyuan 3
- Material desires 4
- Conjugal relations 5
- Fighter against the tradition: Abbie Vs. Zhou Fanyi 6
- Spiritual desires 6
- Abnormal Mother-Son relationship 8
- Oedipus of the modern time: Eben Vs. Zhou Ping 9
- Desire of revenge 9
- Inner conflict 10
- Defender of conventions: Cabot Vs. Zhou Puyuan 3
- Background 1
2.3 Social Implications 11
- Conclusion 12
Works cited 14
A Comparative Study of Characters in Desire under the Elms and
Eugene O’Neill and Cao Yu are both outstanding dramatists. The similar life experiences of the two are one of the reasons for their similar works. O' Neill’s mother took drugs, and his father had little care for children. Similarly, Cao Yu's childhood lacked maternal love and family life was depressing for him. All of these have found some expression in both plays. The two writers are also deeply affected by the society at that time. The O'Neill era was a time of crisis and economic depression in the United States, while people were suffering from warlords and enemy invasion when Cao Yu wrote the play. O'Neill and Cao Yu used their pens to bash the politics, and the conflicts between puritanism and humanity and between capitalism and feudalism reappeared in their works. O'Neill and Cao Yu are also deeply influenced and nurtured by Western Classical Drama Aesthetics, including ancient Greek tragedy, Shakespeare tragedy and western modern drama. In their plays, there appeared Oedipus complex, which can often be traced in the classical tragedy of ancient Greece.
On the basis of the comparative studies both at home and abroad, this thesis makes a comparative analysis of three groups of characters in Desire under the Elms and Thunderstorm, from the aspects of desire, conflict, and fate, with an aim to dig out the profound themes of the works, so as to bring out material and spiritual enlightenment.
- Writing objectives and themes of the two plays
On the one hand, O'Neill and Cao Yu reflect the people's lives, thoughts, confusion and pursuit, and describe their rich inner worlds through careful
characterization of those characters. In Desire under the Elms, O'Neill describes the Americans who sold his soul in exchange for material wealth through the new England family and the Cabot family. According to him, people are trying to take all possessions out of the soul and finally lose it. Greed is a common phenomenon in the America at that time. When Cao Yu talks about his writing objective, he thinks that Thunderstorm is the product of the dark society. At that time, he was trying to fight because the old society was in dark and depravity. He was unwilling to ambiguously live and he picked up the pen. According to him, Thunderstorm is his first moaning, and perhaps it is a shout. In his point of view, writing Thunderstorm is an emotional need. There seems to be a surge of emotion that drives him. He is giving vent to anger, slandering the Chinese family and society. He revealed the darkness of society and advocated the pursuit of human liberation and women liberation through Thunderstorm.
On the other hand, in the former study of comparative literature, too many scholars have focused their attention on the comparative study of incest love, while ignoring the diversity of themes of these two works. In fact, Desire under the Elms has depicted two desires, the desire for material and the desire for love. The former is the character's desire for gold and the farm, and the latter is mainly manifested by Abbie and Eben’s incest. This finally turns both sides into tragedy. In Thunderstorm, Cao Yu also arranges a similar plot. This drama shows material desire through Lu Dahai and Zhou Puyuan, and sexual desire through Zhou Fanyi, Zhou Ping and Lu Sifeng. These desires lead to the tragic ending.
Conflict is also one of the most important parts of drama, and the tragic ending is the result of the intensification of the conflict. Desire under the Elms and Thunderstorm are two dramas full of contradictions. Due to their different desires, the characters are engaged in a fierce struggle. What’s more, supernatural forces create a series of accidents. It is the occurrence of these events that bring the characters to a devastating ending. In addition, the weaknesses in the characters’ personalities also further contribute to the tragedy fate.
The depiction of characters
In O'Neill's view, it is very shallow to just divide the characters into good and evil, for it does not conform to the reality of life. Therefore, in his plays we can hardly see a hero or evil person. Almost all of the characters in O'Neill's novels are at the bottom of society, such as seaman, prostitutes, drunkards, cooks and farmers. They are minor, weak, poor, fooled by fate, manipulated by the environment, and unable to obtain their own ideals. It is these minor people that make up the real life. The author shows us a vivid picture of modern American society through their sufferings and misfortunes and their struggles in misfortune.
Before Cao Yu, tragedy is not well developed in the creation of Chinese drama. There is suffering, but almost no real tragedy. Thunderstorm changes the way of depicting generals and ministers or gifted scholars and beautiful ladies in traditional Chinese opera. The main characters such as Lu Shiping, Lu Gui, Lu Hai, Lu Sifeng are at the bottom of society. Through the careful depiction of these characters, the author reflects the real life more profoundly. In the play, Cao Yu shows Zhou Puyuan's imperious hypocrisy, Fanyi’s surly tamelessness by describing the old family life and carefully characterizing the underlying figures. These characters give us a vivid impression. At the same time, Thunderstorm is influenced by the Greek tragedy of fate and has developed an indescribable atmosphere of tragedy. The author is very good at putting a large number of characters into a unified plot structure, creating a tense and dramatic conflict and using lively and vivid language to develop the tragic art to a new stage. In this paper, I will take three groups of heroes as the starting point and illustrate in a series of languages, actions and psychology the characters and their mental outlooks. In addition, I will explore the deep causes of the similar family tragedies in the two plays by analyzing the similarities and differences of the characters.
The comparison of characters
Defender of conventions: Cabot Vs. Zhou Puyuan
Although Ephraim Cabot and Zhou Puyuan are characters depicted in different
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