Sartre and Theatrical Ambiguity

John H Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This overview of Sartre's theater within the context of the symposium on Sartre and Drama focuses on the inherent ambiguities of his theory and practice. His plays, as committed literature, are not always successful in their pedagogical intention of changing the minds of his audiences. On the one hand, he seeks to provide universal situations with which everyone can collectively identify, and on the other hand he wishes to convince the of the value of freedom and confront them with problems and conflicts they must resolve for themselves. These spectators then exercise that freedom by taking ideological viewpoints that are in conflict with those of the plays. Moreover the plays are often complex and ambiguous, and set far from a contemporary French context, thus demanding a certain sophistication of interpretation. Sartre's skill as a dramatist is to write plays that engage the public in debates about the key questions of the day, even though, because of his open approach, he doesn't always succeed in changing their minds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
JournalSartre Studies International
Volume18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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