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The motif of love in the Helen and the Alcestis of Euripides

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. J.L.P. Wolmarans en
dc.contributor.author Athanasopoulou, Eleftheria N.
dc.date.accessioned 2010-04-12T10:23:55Z
dc.date.available 2010-04-12T10:23:55Z
dc.date.issued 2010-04-12T10:23:55Z
dc.date.submitted 2008-01
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/3183
dc.description D.Litt. et Phil. en
dc.description.abstract The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a contemporary reading of Euripides’ dramas, the Helen and the Alcestis. The main problem investigated is how Euripides treats the motif of love in the Helen and the Alcestis. This problem is approached by way of an analysis of the function of language. It is not just a simple interpretation of the female and male type but an exposition of the characteristics of the motif of love. The motif of love is explored as an event between husband and wife regulated by certain norms and expectations. The result of this research is given as an account of how Euripides deconstructs the traditional social norms governing the interaction between husband and wife. The method used is the application of Wittgenstein’s gloss analysis as it is described in his work Tractatus Logico Philosophicus. Gloss analysis is the philosophical analysis of language that extracts the underlying propositions. It is chosen because it allows for a deconstruction of the social order implied in literary texts. It also allows for a rereading of such texts within a surrealistic and post–modern framework that reveals Euripides’ enduring relevance. Gloss analysis is applied to the Helen and the Alcestis as follows: first of all, the use of language and how it functions are analysed both in the traditional myth and in Euripides’s version. Secondly, the philosophical grammar of his language is examined so that the reader can understand the function of the surface and the depth grammar especially with regard to the use of metaphors. Thirdly, his language games are analysed pragmatically by illuminating the elementary propositions of the traditional myth as well as of Euripides’ version. Finally, the theme of illusion related to the Helen and the theme of restoration with regard to the Alcestis are recreated in a modern–day version. Generally speaking, special emphasis is placed on the role of metaphorical language in order to show up the tensions in a classical marriage. Classical society was patriarchal and military and it prescribed fixed roles to male and female. Public life was organised mostly around the male, while domestic life was organised around the female. It is especially through the use of metaphors that Euripides shows up the dysfunctions of gender ideology and that he calls for social reform. Through gloss analysis his use of metaphors is illuminated, and this reveals the function of the value system and how it failed in the classical era. In the Helen, the result of the method applied to the motif of love is a new image of Helen: through gloss analysis, the Helen of Euripides appears as a cubist product of modern art because it represents a double reality, namely the theme of illusion. It reflects a false world which the couple must escape. The tragic world of Euripides speaks to the contemporary reader or artist in a surrealistic way. The epic Helen is represented by a range of circles that symbolise irrationalism, while the Egyptian Helen is represented by squares that symbolise rationalism. In the Alcestis the heroine’s restoration is the antidote to her husband’s patriarchal deficiency, namely his selfishness. Through gloss analysis, the Alcestis of Euripides is rewritten as an experiment in the principles of what is called today the Theatre of the Absurd. The result of the method applied to the motif of love is a new reading of the Alcestis¬¬ – the most creative part of this study – that is based upon the irrational elements of Euripides’ version, such as the theme of restoration. The Helen and the Alcestis are still relevant because the problems dealt with, such as the gender role, adultery and woman’s value remain crucial issues in modern society. The female and male interaction is regulated by rules which may vary but still show how people are controlled in a loving relationship and how they experience interpersonal problems. The modern reader who enters the fictional world of Euripides comes back to reality wiser after a therapeutic self–discovery journey that is worthwhile. Finally, it is hoped that the findings of this research may lead to a better understanding of the Euripidean dramas, the Helen and the Alcestis. en
dc.language.iso gre en
dc.subject Euripides. Helen en
dc.subject Euripides. Alcestis en
dc.subject Love in literature en
dc.title The motif of love in the Helen and the Alcestis of Euripides en
dc.type Thesis en

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