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The Meaning of Storytelling in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2010, 23(1), pp.125-151
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yon-hee Chun 1

1성신여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In his recent play The Pillowman (2003), Martin McDonagh as an artist actively started to communicate with the world by branching out from concerns related to his ethnic identity to political concerns with a global point of view. McDonagh employs storytelling to protest against violence, oppression, cruelty and fear throughout the world. His political allegory shows common ground with young British writers in the 1990s. In The Pillowman, he successfully shows his faith in radical forms of storytelling that highlights writer-reader conflict and refuses to pay attention to traditional mainstream text structure; the effect is a dramatic twisting of the existing traditions of art and ethical /moral sensibilities. McDonagh allegorizes the conflict between macro-discourse of society which represents the power that controls storytelling and micro-discourse of individuals represented by the conflict between Katurian and Tuposki. Throughout, McDonagh carefully examines the significant role that methodology plays in artistic expression and the importance of an artists’ social commitment. His approach also emphasizes the conflicts that arises from the process in which the ‘first text’ of an artist’s creation transfers to the ‘second text’ interpreted by readers. Additionally, he makes efforts to maintain a constant relationship with the world by showing open endings that could be completed only by readers. In The Pillowman we can see that McDonagh, who has been criticized for being ‘subservient’, ‘sarcastic’ and ‘provocative’ in his work, truly desires to open up the communication lines between the world and the stage. High expectations are justifiably being held about McDonagh’s artistic evolution. As he starts to step beyond from local and ethnic problems to exchange and communicate with the world, he effectively explores the meaning of storytelling and the conflicts between a writer, the producer of storytelling, and a receiver, the interpreter of stories.

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