Public faces, private lives
: the drama of David Hare

  • Robert Wallace

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis considers to what extent cultural, social and political issues encroach upon and shape the private lives of the characters in the plays of David Hare. I will focus on thirteen of Hare's original full-length stage plays in which Hare asks probing questions regarding the moral fabric of society. He does this by exploring the private concerns of the individual when faced with the challenges of the public arena. This thesis argues that, although Hare's plays are consistently informed by their political contexts, for the most part political concerns serve as a backdrop to plays that focus on the private worlds of individuals. This thesis is divided into five chapters and each one will explore a comparable group of plays. Each chapter of this thesis will mark a stylistic and/ or thematic shift of emphasis in Hare's drama. I argue that Hare's plays often contain nuanced subtexts through which he attains a level of intimacy that critics do not often acknowledge or adequately address, and it is through exploring the minutiae of private lives that Hare develops themes that express the fears of the individual when confronted with the demands of wider society. In conclusion, it is suggested that by focusing on the shifts of emphasis in Hare 's canon, I have been able to map areas of Hare's work that have not previously been explored. I conclude that Hare 's plays examine how social pressures (the public frame) invariably collide with the personal needs of the individual (the private frame) and that, by extension, Hare argues that in order to improve the moral fabric of society it is necessary for the individual to accept personal responsibility for one's actions. This thesis asserts that Hare's nuanced subtexts reveal that his central characters' actions are often clouded by private motivations.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKevin De Ornellas (Supervisor) & Andrew Keanie (Supervisor)

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