ABSTRACT

Literary critics have paid little attention to the similar artistic goals of Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney, who were both critical of the state of humanity. This article examines various aspects of their work, focusing specifically on the employment of the classical form in Shaw's Saint Joan and Heaney's The Burial at Thebes. Since the essential action in Greek drama relies on discourse and verbal interaction, its form appealed to both Shaw and Heaney, who are remembered today as masters of the spoken word. This article shows that their use of classical forms and themes sheds light on the power politics of their respective times. While the two plays significantly differ, one being a bona fide history play and the other an adaptation of the famous classic, their authors share a common focal point: they want to cure humanity of a disease whose main symptom is the repetition of History's mistakes.

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