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A Study on the Dissolution of American Family in A Lie of the Mind

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2014, 27(3), pp.225-255
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yu Ho-Jun 1

1평택대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the dissolution of American family and the violence in A Lie of the Mind, the last work of Sam Shepard’s family plays. This play presents the issues of love and struggle between wife and husband and those of both families. The conflict among the family members is revealed through violence, which leaves the victims of violence with the incurable trauma both physically and psychologically. Jake, convinced that his wife, Beth, is having an affair with her acting partner, beats her near to death because of his fierce jealousy. Beth is diagnosed with brain damage and suffers from aphasia and amnesia. Jake’s sister, Sally, tells her mother, Lorraine, that Jake is closely involved in the death of their father who was killed by car accident on the road in a state of inebriation. Lorraine complains of her husband’s disappearance from home and has shown excessive obsession over his son, Jake. Jake’s house is full of men’s stuffs, which signifies the patriarchal family order of this family. Beth resists against the patriarchal and violent attitude of her brother, Mike, and her father, Baylor. who are absorbed in deer hunting. Their violent attack on the animals is expanded into that of persons. While Mike threats Frankie and Jake with a rifle, Baylor shoots Frankie, mistaking him for a deer. As a playwright noted for his performance-oriented plays, Shepard makes use of various kinds of violence in this theatre, such as physical violence, verbal violence, domestic violence, and even the homicide inside family. Like Antonin Artaud who longed for the Theatre of Cruelty, Shepard tries to create total theatre that appeals to all the senses, by using violence, rituals, and audio-visual effects. This play also shows the changing process of protagonists’ identity after the brutal violence. Jake allows Beth to choose Frankie as her new partner, though he still loves her. Admitting that most American families are hopeless, the author suggests ‘pretending’ and ‘becoming soft like a woman’ as the new art of love.

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