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The Storyteller’s Dilemma: Allegory of Violence and Redemption in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(2), pp.159-186
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yeoniee Cho 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper seeks to explore the ethics of storytelling through Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman (2003) in which the dilemma confronted by Katurian Katurian, the storyteller, is articulated and negotiated through the layers of stories, the theatrcalist layers of enactment and re-enactment, and the paralleled layers of the writers within and without the play. The Pillowman features two “bad” readers, Tupolski who believes in the instrumental allegory and authorship and Michal who literally enacts Katurian’s stories without understanding their symbolic structures only to mistake himself as the pillowman. As he smothers the life of “a happy, healthy little body named Michal Katurian” on a cold prison floor, however, Katurian as the pillowman actualizes “the virtual,” acting out his redemptive fantasy of extricating a child from the burden of life that is yet to come. Ultimately, the ethics of storytelling does not lie in the fictionality of redemption the story conveys but in its power that retrospectively rewrites the past and triggers contemplating beyond the experiential world.

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