The dramaturgy of the tragedies of John Webster and John Ford with special reference to their use of stage imagery.
The imagery of the plays of John Webster and John Ford is not only verbal: in staging as well as language these dramas display strongly imagistic, symbolic elements. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the seven extant tragedies of Webster and Ford from the point of view of their total dramatic nature - to examine the staging, costumes, hand and large properties, movement and gestures as well as the verbal imagery, and the interplay of these verbal and visual elements. The original appearance, of these plays in their contemporary theatre, and the dramatist's intentions for performance, can only be surmised. The original stage directions are examined for hints of the original presentation: these stage directions may not always be authorial, but, especially in the case of Ford, they seem to reveal the playwright's hand. The dialogue, too, frequently implies particular gestures, grouping or stage placement. The visual imagery, it is here suggested, is created by the dramatist for several purposes: a moral or ironical point may be silently established; a chain of related visual motifs may bind various actions and characters into an organic union; a visualization may appeal outward to other works of art or theatrical or non-dramatic conventions, enlarging the immediate significance by this shorthand reference; visual ceremonies may make concrete the more ephemeral words and feelings of the characters. Each of the tragedies is studied in a separate chapter, in the following order: Webster's The White Devil, The Duchess of Malfi, and Appius and Virginia (the authorship of which is disputed); John Ford's The Broken Heart, Love's Sacrifice, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and Perkin Warbeck. A conclusion indicates the differences between Webster's more overtly theatrical visualizations and Ford's quiet tableaux. The thesis is accompanied by illustrations which are either explanatory or comparative.
- Theses