Foregrounding the Body: The Plays of the 1990s
  • Elmer Andrews


Underlying Friel’s whole dramatic endeavour is a faith in the transcendental subject, a faith which links him with the great liberal humanist artists of the nineteenth century such as Chekhov and Turgenev whose artistic temperament is remarkably similar to his own and in whose artistic vision and technique he has shown a special interest. And it is this faith which distinguishes Friel from many modern theorists and philosophers of language and subjectivity. Catherine Belsey summarises the post-Saussurian view: ‘It is language which offers the possibility of constructing a world of individuals and things, and of differentiating between them’.1 Friel agrees that subjectivity is substantially constituted by language, but he refuses to accept that it is wholly a product of discourse. In Derrida’s view, the individual is inscribed in language and a function of it; in Althusser’s theory he or she is positioned and determined by illusory ideological processes; while according to Lacan, who adapts Freudian ideas, the individual is ‘taken over’ at the point of his or her insertion into language and society. For Friel, however, the individual is still essentially prior to his language, history and social conditions, informed by prevailing social and political values, but not simply a symptom of them. There is a ‘second order’ degree of responsibility for moral and political beliefs within the individual.


Verbal Theatre Catholic Social Teaching Direct Address Faith Healer Holy Water 
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Copyright information

© Elmer Andrews 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elmer Andrews
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UlsterUK

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