Of Mice and Men - the Crisis of Drama

Topics: Great Depression, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck Pages: 5 (1772 words) Published: December 10, 2011
The Drama

Based on Peter Szondi’s studies, the Drama of modernity had its beginning in Renaissance. After the collapse of the medieval worldview, an artistic reality in which a human being could fix and mirror himself on the basis of interpersonal relationships was created. Man disclosed himself to his contemporary world: nothing outside the interpersonal relationships was accepted in the drama. Drama is absolute and unique for it is separate from everything outside itself and it is constructed by dialogue, which is dominant. The author cannot appear anywhere in drama – referred to what is spoken – but it belongs to him just as a whole and everything spoken cannot be out of context. Also, the absoluteness of this artistic reality regards to the spectator that has to be passive: “silent, with hands tied, lamed by the impact of this other world”(p.8)¹. The relationship between actor and role cannot be visible, since no things can exist besides those demonstrated in the drama – actor and character become one. The drama is always primary, which means that it represents only itself. It is not related to some historical event, or to something that is happening in the contemporary world, and these both characteristics always leads to the “present” as Drama’s internal time. The internal time, or present, is constructed through dialogue – as the dialogues pass, the action pass and the present is dressed by a new present. As Szondi affirms, “every moment must contain the seeds of future” (p.9), otherwise, the linearity and the principle of absolute presence in Drama would be subverted. From this point of view, the temporal fragmentation of the scenes would result in the break of unity of time. Another aspect of drama consists on its unity of place. The spatial context should not be large, since the larger the scene, the more difficult it is to the spectators to follow it. Then, with Drama’s characteristics mentioned above, this paper will analyze one of the novels that symbolized the beginning of the crisis of drama. The novel is Of Mice and Men, and some of its aspects that can be considered opposite to what was preached by Drama’s theory will be observed.

The Crisis in Of mice and Men

As said in introduction, the Drama consists in unity. Nothing outside the interpersonal relationships was accepted in it. As Szondi says, “real dramatic action does not present human existence in terms of some specific cause. If it did, the action would point beyond itself (…) The existence of the dramatis personae should not reach beyond the temporal borders of the Drama” (p.38), which means that the characters presented in the Drama are not created as a mirror of subjects in the exterior world. This kind of dramatic presentation is called by Szondi as “transformation of alienated conditionality into interpersonal actuality” and it means that a single dramatic personae represents thousands of people living in the same condition. However, in Of Mice and Men, of John Steinbeck, an undramatic element is seen - the characters do represent subjects inserted in a certain period of human history. In this case, the period remits to the Great Depression, which happened after World War I and had devastating effects in many countries. This crisis led many rural poor and hand workers to produce even more goods, but for the same amount of money and many rich farmers bought more lands and expensive agricultural equipments in order to support the new demand, and this made them broke. It is in this context that Steinbeck writes Of Mice and Men. One of the main characters, Lennie, is as mindless as a mice, and he may represent the life that the low society - in this particular case, hand workers - had in this period. Lennie can also be a stereotype of people that simply accept and obey what others tell them to do and this can be noticed in the 2nd act, 1st scene, when Curley starts beating Lennie and the last fights back...
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