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|Title:||Heroism in Vietnam: Archetypal Patterns in Selected American Prase and Drama|
|Abstract:||This study examines modern manifestations of archetypal heroism and immortality in selected American prose and drama of the Vietnam War. The technical innovations of Vietnam War writers have received substantial attention from critics and scholars but the Writers themes have had relatively little close attention. While my study doss consider technical innovations, its main emphasis is on a particular thematic pattern. The writers I have selected --Philip Caputo, William Eastlake, John Guare, Michael Herr, Arthur Kopit, and David Raba --exploit parallels with the Mythic Hero and it is in these thematic patterns that I am interested. Specifically, these writers dissect received notions of martial heroism and Mythic Heroism; they examine the media's influential portrayal of the soldiers and show its inadequacy; they probe into prevailing American cultural attitudes and their historical origins; and they actively pursue innovative techniques with which to present their own views of the soldiers and the war. The most common controlling metaphor is the Hero's journey into the underworld. Variations an this basic theme include the role of the archetypal Fool as the Hera's guide, and archetypal myths of immortality. These writers juxtapose and ironically campers the archetypal with the modern by using symbolism deriving from factors local to the Vietnam War. Far example, the Asian jungle reveals the primitive in modern man; images of immortality on celluloid, in Art, and in archetypal mythology are brought into relationship with each other to distinguish modern simplified misconceptions from complex archetypal truths; and there is a close examination of the expectations and reality of martial heroism in this war. The protagonist's journey leads him to discover personal and national mistakes. Each protagonist hare varies in the degree of knowledge he attains and the ends to which he puts it. However, the parallels with the Mythic Hero's journey not only reveal one way far American society to assimilate the Vietnam experience into its consciousness and so regenerate itself, but the parallels also show the possible effects that may result from a failure to came to terms with the war and the soldiers who fought it. The primary focus of this thesis is the symbolism and significance of martial heroism and Mythic Heroism. However, as a sub-theme, I also discuss literary innovations, and make an attempt in the final chapter to place the themes and techniques of this war literature in a past-modern context. The Vietnam War had such a profound, long-lasting and pervasive effect on America that it is only fitting that this war's literature should be placed within America's literary matrix.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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