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Writing Modern Ireland$
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Catherine E Paul

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082693

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082693.001.0001

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date: 25 April 2019

“Westward ho!”: The Only Jealousy of Emer, from Noh to Tragedy

“Westward ho!”: The Only Jealousy of Emer, from Noh to Tragedy

(p.95) “Westward ho!”: The Only Jealousy of Emer, from Noh to Tragedy
Writing Modern Ireland

Alexandra Poulain

Liverpool University Press

This essay analyzes W. B. Yeats's The Only Jealousy of Emer, and specifically its negotiation of elements of Noh theater as well as its reliance on dramatic characteristics of tragedy for its fundamental structure. It first considers the various theatrical strategies employed by Yeats to represent the hero's absence before discussing how the Chinese-box structure of The Only Jealousy of Emer is employed in the service of the play's tragic dynamic, which turns theater into an ambiguous metaphor of absence. It then explains how the tragic logic that governs The Only Jealousy of Emer turns the dramatic project of Noh on its head, since it is based on the impossibility of the border between the visible and the invisible, between audience and stage. It suggests that the play enables Yeats to offer a kind of reinvention of tragedy distinct from naturalism and infused with “the dramatic syntax of the Noh tradition.”

Keywords:   tragedy, W. B. Yeats, The Only Jealousy of Emer, Noh theater, metaphor, absence, naturalism

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