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Something Clear, Something Cloudy as an Experimental Memory Play

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2012, 25(1), pp.29-54
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Soim Kim 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Something Clear, Something Cloudy is Williams's last memory play which dramatizes August, Williams’s alter ego’s homosexual experience with Kip in Provincetown in the 1940s and his relentless pursuit of monetary gains while negotiating with a producer over the revision of his new play. Even though Williams confessed that this play is “one of the most personal plays I’ve ever written,” the play is not a clear-cut and solid retrospection of the playwright’s tumultuous younger days. Rather, the play uses various techniques to keep a distance from what really happened in Provincetown. The fictional characters and episodes are combined with people and incidents that are based on Williams’s past. The point of view is diversified such as that of August in the ’40s and in the ’80s, and that of Clare, the so-called, “conscience” of August. The multiple perspectives conflict with one another and undermine the reliability of the episodes. The picture of desires in this play is far from clear either and the play's stance toward desires remains ambiguous as well. The sexual as well as the monetary desires are portrayed in sordid ways, but the play does not confront the moral issues directly. Rather the play experiments with the multiple ways of approaching desires. Furthermore it explores how the same incident can be perceived and evaluated differently by multiple perspectives and different eras. Some critics consider this play to be a search for ‘expiation’ of Williams’s past sins. Which sins and how they should be absolved, however, is not clear. Other critics also deem this play to be an elegy for lost friends, but this play is completely devoid of sentimental aspects. Williams breaks the episode into fragments, thus blocking emotional involvement. In many ways, this play shares the characteristics with the experimental plays of the late 20th century in that it negates a single subject and perspective, introduces an anti-heroic protagonist, evades the moralistic approach to desires, and goes beyond the strict genre category such as a memory play, confession play or an elegy.

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