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Date of Award

7-2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

R. Granofsky

Abstract

The imaginative writer uses language "for the expression, clarification and deepening of feelings" and this enriches "the affective life of man" (Tomkins, Affect 1:219). By concentrating on the self, Affect Theory provides an original perspective for character analysis, which certainly contributes to psychoanalytic literary studies. With its intricate classification of emotion, affect theory enables literary scholars to re-examine postwar drama with a new vocabulary and a comprehensive framework. Affect theory has deepened our knowledge of emotions and of the role of shame in particular, both destructive and creative, in shaping the human personality. Perhaps some of the most compelling evidence of the complexities of the central affect, shame, can be in found in the dynamic milieux of postwar plays. When studying the postwar human psyche, applying such an overarching theoretical framework that focuses on the inherent nature of shame to John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1956) and Mahmoud El-Lozy's Bay the Moon (1998) is crucial for understanding the Angry Young Men movement. By employing Silvan Tomkins' Affect Theory and Donald Nathanson's Compass of Shame, this thesis will demonstrate how the depiction of each protagonist as the 'angry young man' is in fact an affective response to the crisis of how intolerable postwar generational shame was pushed beyond reasonable limits. By extracting the affective patterns in both plays, I will show how the protagonists' unsuccessful shame management attempts trigger their recurring angry tirades that intensify throughout the plays without effecting any shame-relieving change.

McMaster University Library

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