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From Violence to Love: The Aesthetics of Shock in 4.48 Psychosis

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2011, 24(3), pp.155-174
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jung,Byung-Eon 1

1부산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay examines how the aesthetics of shock resulting from a subversive form of verbal violence functions as a means of transforming the audience into a Levinasian subject of consideration and love responsible for the vulnerable other in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. Many critics have regarded this play as a dramatic “suicide note,” bringing forward evidence for her suicide not only from the play itself but also her bout with clinical depression ending in suicide. This approach risks missing its aesthetic beauty as a literary art. This essay insists on the effect of shock as a means for the epiphany of the face of the Other, thus paving the way for separating the audience from their own prejudice and attitude deeply ingrained in a legitimate society of violence. By extremely exposing the patient’s mind as the locus for the shocking images of violence, 4.48 Psychosis engages the audience in a journey of being immersed in an intensive force as “a bloc of sensations” of violence. Along with their irresistible claims to responsibility, this shocking images serve as a prerequisite for the ethical encounter with the Other. Through the ethical effect of this shock, 4.48 Psychosis presents itself as a demand for the audience to respond to the “nakedness” and “defenselessness” in the face of the Other.

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