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|Title:||The Plays of Arnold Bennett|
|Authors:||Morgan, Roy Terence|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>This thesis examines the plays of Arnold Bennett. In the years immediately preceding World War I, Bennett was an extremely popular and successful playwright. With the advent of the War, however, Bennett's success as a playwright came to an end. Although Bennett had nine plays produced between 1919 and his death in 1931, only one, Mr. Prohack, received moderate critical and popular acceptance. At the time, this seemed to suggest either that Bennett burned himself out during the War or that he could not adjust to the changes in the theatre - that his achievement was both opportune and ephemeral. Yet several important factors may have influenced contemporary judgment or Bennett's contribution as a playwright.</p> <p>Bennett's playwriting technique was similar to his novel-writing technique. He wrote a great deal that was either never published or immediately dismissed as mediocre. He served a long apprenticeship as a playwright from 1894 until 1908, working alone and in collaboration. Yet none of this work appeared on stage. Later, after his initial recognition as a playwright in 1908, he continued to write plays that were never produced. The critical judgment of Bennett's playwriting, then, depends upon the plays chosen to represent his achievement as a playwright.</p> <p>Perhaps more than other literary works, the play is very susceptible to "external" influences. The choice of director, producer,actors, theatre, and so on, can all have a decisive influence on the acceptance of a play. The changes brought about by the War, for example, had a profound effect on the public's attitude to the theatre and, apparently, to Bennett's plays. But practical problems can also influence critical perception of a play. For instance, Bennett's Mr. Prohack had a very successful opening with Charles Laughton in the lead. Unfortunately, the lease on the theatre ran out, Laughton accepted new commitments, and what had promised to be a long run ended abruptly.</p> <p>In addition, Bennett offended theatre critics by declaring that he wrote plays to make money, and that plays were far easier to write than novels. And since he had achieved his first fame as a novelist, Bennett might have been seen as an interloper in the theatre. Probably he did not help his acceptance when, according to Kinley Roby, he described theatregoers as "untrained, child-like intelligences, just arousing themselves to the significance of things".</p> <p>Now, over fifty years after his death, criticism of Bennett's plays can be more objective. It is "literary criticism" rather than "drama criticism", however, because his plays are seldom produced now. But the critic who carefully reads Bennett's plays can arrive at a fair evaluation of his work.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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