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The Coast of Utopia Trilogy: Stoppard’s Engagement with Ethical and Political Issues

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2015, 28(3), pp.103-134
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Heebon Park-Finch 1

1계명대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines Stoppard’s increasing engagement with issues of freedom of speech, human rights violation, and totalitarian government abuse in his dramatic output, before making an in-depth analysis of the development and manifestation of these themes in his 2002 trilogy, The Coast of Utopia (Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage), written more than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. An investigation of Stoppard’s plays leading to this trilogy reveals that he is consistently acute in his understanding of the outcomes of political suppression. The focus on breaches of human rights under the Tsars (and implied parallels in post-revolution Russia) is thus present in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Professional Foul (1977), and had already been hinted at in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967), in which the two innocent protagonists are victimized by the state. In Stoppard’s trilogy, history, politics and theatre intermingle in increasingly complex transformations of each other. The study concludes that as with his other plays, The Coast of Utopia offers a philosophical statement about contemporary life and on the emptiness of an ideology which has lost touch with reality. Furthermore, the examination of Stoppard’s output to date shows that a high percentage of his plays deal with the history of political struggle and Eastern Europe in particular. Although his plays were often labelled in the past as lacking in political interest, closer examination proves an underlying concern with moral, universal and political issues.

Citation status

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.