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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Quaker elements in Christopher Fry's dramas Kirkaldy-Willis, Ian Dunbar 1966

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QUAKER ELEMENTS IN CHRISTOPHER FRY'S DRAMAS by  IAIN DUNBAR KIRKALDY-WILLIS B.A., U n i v e r s i t y o f Western O n t a r i o , 1964  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n t h e Department of English  We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o t h e required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1966  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s requirements Columbia, for  in p a r t i a l  f u l f i l m e n t of  f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of  I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y  reference and.study.  s h a l l make i t  freely  the  British available  I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r  ex-  t e n s i v e c o p y i n g of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s  representatives.  understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s for cial  is finan-  g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department  of  The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date  It  [ML  ABSTRACT  T h i s t h e s i s examines t h e i n t e r p l a y o f t h e f o r c e s o f l i f e , death and l o v e i n F r y ' s p l a y s .  The r e l e v a n c e o f  Quakerism t o t h e i s s u e i s e s t a b l i s h e d i n Chapter I .  This  c h a p t e r t a k e s t h e mystery o f e x i s t e n c e as t h e b a s i c p o i n t common t o F r y ' s p l a y s and Quakerism and e x p l o r e s i t as i t d e v e l o p s i n each. C h r i s t o p h e r F r y i n c l u d e s w i t h i n h i s p l a y s abundant evidence of t h e tragedy He t r a n s c e n d s  i n h e r e n t i n t h e human c o n d i t i o n .  t h i s awareness, however, i n h i s c o n s i s t e n t  i n t i m a t i o n o f t h e triumph  o f t h e v i t a l f o r c e and i n a con-  cept o f redemption t h r o u g h j o y as t h e p r o p e r e x p r e s s i o n o f the human s p i r i t .  T h i s a t t i t u d e p a r a l l e l s t h e b a s i c frame  of mind u n d e r l y i n g t h e Quakerism i n which F r y has h i s r o o t s . The Quaker chooses t o be amazed a t t h e m y s t e r y o f e x i s t e n c e r a t h e r t h a n lament h i s i n a b i l i t y t o fathom i t . f i n d s t h i s t h e n a t u r a l course. r e a l i t y prevent  Indeed, he  I n t u i t i o n s of a greater  him from i n d u l g i n g i n an u n n a t u r a l  suicidal  concern w i t h h i s human l i m i t a t i o n s . Chapter I I d e a l s more s p e c i f i c a l l y w i t h t h e mystery of e x i s t e n c e w i t h i n each o f F r y ' s p l a y s . sidered separately.  Each p l a y i s con-  However, s i n c e s i m i l a r themes appear  i n a l l h i s p l a y s , t h i s c h a p t e r i n f a c t e x p l o r e s t h e body o f  F r y ' s p l a y s as a whole. u l a r dimension  I t p e r c e i v e s each p l a y as a p a r t i c -  o f what i s i n a l l h i s p l a y s .  The Appendix e s t a b l i s h e s t h e l i t e r a r y r e l e v a n c e o f F r y ' s p l a y s t o t h e t h e a t r e as both r e l i g i o u s drama and v e r s e drama, and i t c o n c l u d e s by d e s c r i b i n g t h e r e l e v a n c e o f r e l i g i o n and p o e t r y t o a t y p e o f romance drama.  F r y ' s work  as a whole r e f l e c t s t h e c o n v i c t i o n t h a t romance and comedy a r e u n i v e r s a l , and t h a t t h e y can o n l y be found a f t e r t h e t r a g i c experience. F r y c a l l s i t comedy.  There i s something beyond t r a g e d y and I n r e a c h i n g out t o i t , he s a y s , one  has t o pass t h r o u g h t r a g e d y  first.  PREFACE The p r o x i m i t y t o death and the i n t e r p l a y of the f o r c e s of l i f e ,  death, and l o v e which express the c l a s h of freedom  and a u t h o r i t y make an i n e x t r i c a b l e t a n g l e of p l o t i n each of Christopher Fry's plays. amounts t o l i t t l e  The  development of a c t i o n , which  more than the progress  of these f o r c e s , i s  a symphonic poem of m o t i f s , of themes "which appear, reappear and  combine" as an i n n e r d i a l e c t i c of "the c o n f l i c t between  the l i f e - a n d - d e a t h - w i s h , f a i t h and s c e p t i c i s m , r e l i g i o n materialism."" " 1  The r e s o l u t i o n of these c o n f l i c t s and  and  the  c o n c l u s i o n of these p l a y s l i e i n the nature of comedy and the presence of the comic s p i r i t which do not d i f f e r from tragedy, but are born out of i t . I know t h a t when I set about w r i t i n g a comedy the i d e a presents i t s e l f t o me f i r s t of a l l as tragedy. The c h a r a c t e r s press on t o the theme with a l l t h e i r d i v i s i o n s and p e r p l e x i t i e s heavy about them; they are a l ready entered f o r the race t o doom, and good and e v i l are an i n f e r m a l t a n g l e s k i n n i n g the f i n g e r s t h a t t r y to u n r a v e l them. I f the c h a r a c t e r s were not q u a l i f i e d f o r tragedy t h e r e would be no comedy, and t o some ext e n t I have t o cross the one before I can l i g h t on the other. For F r y , tragedy and comedy d i f f e r from one another as  ex-  p e r i e n c e does from i n t u i t i o n - - t h e y are not d i f f e r e n t , only complementary approaches to the same i s s u e s and Derek S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y : An (London: Peter N e v i l l , 1952), p. 213.  2  iii  integral  Appreciation  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Comedy," Tulane Drama Review, I V , (March, I 9 6 0 ) , p. 7S.  iii p a r t s o f t h e wholeness and i n t e g r i t y o f s p i r i t i n F r y ' s a r t . Tragedy's e x p e r i e n c e hammers a g a i n s t t h e mystery t o make a breach which would admit t h e whole t r i u m p h a n t answer. I n t u i t i o n has no such p o t e n t i a l . . . . L a u g h t e r may seem t o be o n l y l i k e an e x h a l a t i o n o f a i r , but out o f t h a t a i r we came; i n t h e b e g i n n i n g we i n h a l e d i t ; i t i s t r u t h , not a f a n t a s y , a t r u t h v o l u b l e o f good which comedy s t o u t l y maintains.3 In  t h i s t h e s i s I would l i k e t o c o n s i d e r i n a l l  p l a y s t h e i n t e r p l a y o f t h e f o r c e s o f l i f e , d e a t h , and  Fry's love,  and t h e i n t u i t i v e v i s i o n w i t h which t h e y a r e r e s o l v e d w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t of Quaker f a i t h and p r a c t i c e .  The p a t h Quakers  f o l l o w i s a s i m i l a r one o f p r o g r e s s from t h e c o n f l i c t  and  d i v i s i o n i n l i f e t o r e s o l u t i o n and u n i t y , as i n t u i t i o n i s born out o f e x p e r i e n c e , and as i t grows above e x p e r i e n c e t o truth. The t e s t f o r membership s h o u l d not be d o c t r i n a l agreement, nor adherence t o c e r t a i n t e s t i m o n i e s , but e v i d e n c e of s i n c e r e s e e k i n g and s t r i v i n g f o r t h e T r u t h , t o g e t h e r w i t h an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e l i n e s a l o n g which F r i e n d s are seeking t h a t Truth.4 I t i s not n e c e s s a r y t h a t we s h o u l d know a l l m y s t e r i e s b e f o r e we b e g i n . . . . [ C h r i s t ' s d i s c i p l e s ] d i d not u n d e r s t a n d a t f i r s t t h e m y s t i c u n i o n w i t h t h e i r Master t o which t h e y were c a l l e d , but t h e y f o l l o w e d Him, and as t h e y f o l l o w e d , t h e r e was g r a d u a l l y u n f o l d e d t o them t h e f u l n e s s o f H i s l o v e and l i f e . I f we b e g i n where t h e y began, and f o l l o w as t h e y f o l l o w e d , we s h a l l end where t h e y ended.5 As f a r as d i s t i n g u i s h i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s go t h e s e i d e a l s  do  no more t h a n p l a c e Quakerism w i t h i n t h e C h r i s t i a n t r a d i t i o n . • * I b i d . , pp. 7 3 - 7 9 . ^ C h r i s t i a n F a i t h And P r a c t i c e I n The E x p e r i e n c e Of The S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s , London Y e a r l y Meeting o f t h e R e l i g i o u s S o c i e t y of F r i e n d s (London: Headley B r o t h e r s , 1 9 6 3 ) , Sec. 368. I b i d . , Sec.  399.  iv However, t h e Quaker p o s i t i o n can be d e f i n e d c l e a r l y w i t h i n this tradition.  I t l i e s w i t h i n t h e P r o t e s t a n t movement by  a d e m o n s t r a t i o n o f t h e r e a l i t y o f i n d i v i d u a l r e l i g i o n , wors h i p , and i n s i g h t , which was b e h i n d t h e break w i t h C a t h o l i c ism. to  But i t demonstrates t h i s r e a l i t y more t r u l y by h o l d i n g n o n - s e c t a r i a n , n o n - d o c t r i n a l ways.  In the p u r s u i t of the  i n n e r l i f e i t i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d from C a t h o l i c m y s t i c a l i n t u i t i o n through the i n d i v i d u a l ' s v i s i o n a r y p o t e n t i a l outside the  body o f t h e Church (by means o f h i s r e l i g i o u s  approaches  towards c r e a t i o n and t h e s a n c t i t y o f a l l forms o f l i f e ) , i n s t e a d o f t h r o u g h t h e s p i r i t u a l myth and dogmatic of  t h e C a t h o l i c Church.  belief  As opposed t o t h e s e s p i r i t u a l  quali-  t i e s Quakers a r e a l s o d i s t i n c t i v e as an a c t i v e l y C h r i s t i a n p e o p l e because t h e whole p r i n c i p l e o f t h e i r l i v e s and  beliefs  i s t o show t h e r e a l i t y o f C h r i s t i a n l o v e and deeds i n an everyday w o r l d — " t h e y have t a k e n t h e l e a d i n showing t h a t the  l o v e o f C h r i s t can overcome t h e s p i r i t o f h a t e and t h e  d e s i r e f o r revenge."^  The i n n e r growth o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l  f o l l o w s a way o f l i f e t h a t a t t e m p t s t o p e r c e i v e t h e C h r i s t i a n mystery i n t h e d a i l y w o r l d o f h i s own e x p e r i e n c e . In Quakerism t h e r e a r e two complementary movements, w i t h d r a w a l t o an i n w a r d Source o f T r u t h and r e t u r n t o a c t i o n i n t h e w o r l d . The f i r s t i s Greek i n i t s r e l i g i o u s emp h a s i s , t h e second, Hebrew. Quakerism i s b o t h contemplat i v e and a c t i v e , b o t h m e t a p h y s i c a l and e t h i c a l , not because i t has combined t h e two i n a c o n s i s t e n t system o f W. R. I n g e , M y s t i c i s m i n R e l i g i o n (London: H u t c h i n s o n ' s U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a r y ) , pp. 128-129•  V  thought but because i t has combined them t h r o u g h experience.7 Quakerism i s a s p i r i t o f endeavour o n l y and n o t h i n g e l s e . The main r e a s o n f o r c o n s i d e r i n g t h e p a r a l l e l s between t h e Quaker p o s i t i o n and F r y ' s p l a y s i s t h a t i n both t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l and m e t a p h y s i c a l approaches  t o t h e mystery o f  c r e a t i o n and t h e i r e x p r e s s i o n s o f a cosmic v i s i o n a r e a l i k e . Even i n h i s comedies F r y pursues t h e s e c u l a r and pagan exp r e s s i o n s o f t h e s e same themes w i t h a c o n s i s t e n c y and i n t e n s i t y no l e s s t h a n h i s r e l i g i o u s s e r i o u s n e s s i n t h e " r e l i g i o u s " plays.  He s a y s , " i f any a r e r e l i g i o u s t h e y a r e a l l r e l i g i o u s ,  and i f any a r e pagan t h e y a r e a l l pagan.  They r e f l e c t t h e 8  w o r l d I know, as f a r as my u n d e r s t a n d i n g has t a k e n me."  In  Quakerism t h e s e p r e o c c u p a t i o n s a r e j u s t i f i e d by t h e s i m u l t a n e o u s l y s a c r e d and s e c u l a r n a t u r e o f Quaker w a y s — t h e comb i n a t i o n o f i n n e r s p i r i t u a l l i f e and t h e outward r e t u r n t o action i n the world. Quakerism has never a c c e p t e d a d i s t i n c t i o n between t h e s a c r e d and t h e s e c u l a r . . . . The u n i t y o f t h e s a c r e d and t h e s e c u l a r i n v o l v e s t h i s i m p l i c a t i o n : t h a t t h e s a c r a m e n t a l q u a l i t y . . . depends upon t h e s p i r i t and i n t e n t i o n o f t h e persons concerned, not upon any atmosphere o r c i r c u m s t a n c e p r o v i d e d from o u t s i d e . 9 Some e x p l a n a t i o n f o r t h e s e s i m i l a r concerns w i t h t h e mystery l i e s i n t h e b i o g r a p h i c a l evidence o f a s t r o n g l y 7  Howard H. B r i n t o n , F r i e n d s f o r 300 Years (New Y o r k : H a r p e r , 1952), p. 58. 8 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , Three P l a y s (London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , I 9 6 0 ) , p. v i i . a ^Towards a Quaker View o f Sex (London: F r i e n d s Home S e r v i c e Committee, 1964), pp. 11-12.  vi r e l i g i o u s f a m i l y background.  F r y ' s f a t h e r , C h a r l e s -John  H a r r i s Hammond, was an a r c h i t e c t u n t i l he gave h i m s e l f up t o work f o r t h e poor i n t h e B r i s t o l slums as an A n g l i c a n lay-preacher.  F r y was born i n 1907 and he was o n l y t h r e e  when h i s f a t h e r d i e d .  However, Derek S t a n f o r d , a f r i e n d  and c r i t i c o f F r y ' s , remarks t h a t F r y r e t a i n e d deep and p o w e r f u l i m p r e s s i o n s o f h i s f a t h e r . The f a i t h and p e r s o n a l i t y o f h i s parent had always meant much t o him, and c o n s t i t u t e d a k i n d o f subconscious i d e a l . 1 0 H i s mother, Emma M a r g u e r i t e , " a l s o a r e l i g i o u s - m i n d e d woman," was  a F r y (a f a m i l y o f l o n g Quaker s t a n d i n g ) .  At t h e age o f  e i g h t e e n F r y adopted h i s mother's f a m i l y name ( f o r euphony, he s a i d ) and t h e f a m i l y ' s r e l i g i o u s attachments t o t h e S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s (Quakers).  S t a n f o r d comments on a c e r t a i n  Q u a k e r l i n e s s i n F r y ' s temperament i n l a t e r y e a r s , when he states, that F r y , who sent h i s son t o a Quaker p u b l i c s c h o o l , has something o f t h e Quaker about him t o t h i s day. Indeed, i t i s p r o b a b l y t h e u n u s u a l c o m b i n a t i o n o f an e a r l y t h e a t r i c a l background w i t h i n h e r i t e d Quaker t e n d e n c i e s t h a t c o n s t i t u t e t h e d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s o f h i s temperament; a n a t u r e both g r a v e and gay, c o n t e m p l a t i v e and s o c i a b l e ; and, above a l l , enamoured o f q u i e t and p e a c e . H There were two aunts i m p o r t a n t  i n Fry's upbringing too,  "both  r e l i g i o u s women; one o f whom e a r l y i n s p i r e d him w i t h a l o v e of E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e by r e a d i n g t h e prose o f Bunyan t o h i m . " "^Derek S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y (London: Longmans, Green, 1954), p. 11. 11 12 Ibid. ^Ibid. x x  x  V l l  L a t e r on, when t h e Second World War was d e c l a r e d , F r y , a c o n s c i e n t i o u s o b j e c t o r , s e r v e d i n t h e P i o n e e r Gorps, a noncombatant arm o f t h e F o r c e s .  S t a n f o r d , whose  acquaintance  w i t h F r y stems from t h e s e y e a r s i n t h e F o r c e s , comments a g a i n on F r y ' s temperament as " Q u a k e r - l i k e " when he d e s c r i b e s two a s p e c t s o f i t , namely, t h e p r e s e r v e d  " f a c u l t y f o r some-  t h i n g a k i n t o r e l i g i o u s m e d i t a t i o n , " a n d , opposed t o i t , ano t h e r q u a l i t y i n him which made "no attempt t o a v o i d 13  partici-  p a t i o n i n communal m a t t e r s . " When, w i t h t h i s t h e s i s i n mind, I w r o t e t o F r y about Quaker elements i n h i s dramas, he r e p l i e d , " I t h i n k you may be r i g h t i n f i n d i n g some p a r a l l e l s between t h e p l a y s and Quaker m y s t i c i s m : though t h i s i s f o r you t o d e c i d e . " ^ x  This  t h e s i s i s , t h e r e f o r e , an attempt t o examine t h e c l o s e n e s s o f t h e s e p a r a l l e l s and determine t h e v a l i d i t y o f t h e comparison beyond t h e bounds o f s u p e r f i c i a l s i m i l a r i t i e s and i n c i d e n t a l parallels. I t i s my b e l i e f t h a t t h e b a s i s f o r t h i s comparison i s fundamental i n both F r y and Quakerism.  Fundamental t o both  i s t h e r e l i g i o u s concern w i t h l i f e and u n i v e r s a l s .  It is  not a concern t h a t makes t h e f o r m a l r e l i g i o u s d i s t i n c t i o n  J  between s a c r e d and s e c u l a r , but a concern w i t h t h e b a s i c 13 ^ S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y : An A p p r e c i a t i o n , p. 19. ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , see h i s l e t t e r t o I a i n K i r k a l d y W i l l i s dated August 14, 1964. The l e t t e r i s x e r o x e d and p r e s e n t e d as Appendix B.  viii principles  o r s p i r i t t h a t l i e b e h i n d both t h e s a c r e d and  secular a l i k e .  Chapter one w i l l c o n s i d e r t h e s e preoccupa-  t i o n s w i t h t h e "mystery o f e x i s t e n c e , " and a l s o t h e f o r m a l d i r e c t i o n s t h e y both t a k e i n e x p r e s s i n g t h e m s e l v e s . The way enlightenment.  o f l i f e Quakers observe i s one o f c o n t i n u a l The r e s p o n s i b i l i t y  o f every i n d i v i d u a l i s  e d u c a t i o n ( i n t h e b r o a d e s t sense) and s e l f - i m p r o v e m e n t , and i t i s t h i s concern t h a t provokes t h e i r b a s i c approach t o life—to  promote u n d e r s t a n d i n g and u n i t y where b e f o r e t h e r e  was i g n o r a n c e and d i v i s i o n . basic pattern.  Fry's plays also follow t h i s  Chapter two, t h e r e f o r e , examines each p l a y  s e p a r a t e l y i n terms o f i t s c o n f l i c t s and d i v i s i o n , and i t t a k e s t h e p l a y ' s r e s o l u t i o n i n u n i t y , drawing on t h o s e p r i n c i p l e s t h a t a r i s e from t h e fundamental p o s i t i o n o f F r y and Quakerism. The t h i r d element b o t h have i n common i s t h e p l a c e o f e x p e r i e n c e and t h e p r o g r e s s o f i n t u i t i o n from i t .  In both,  e x p e r i e n c e i s p e r s o n a l and i n d i v i d u a l , t h e c e n t r e o f t r a g e d y i n F r y and t h e c e n t r e o f l i f e f o r Quakers.  From i t comes  i n t u i t i o n , t h e harmony and u n i t y t h a t comes from c o n f l i c t , and t h e v i s i o n o f t h e m y s t e r y .  E i t h e r way  i t i s a principle'  present i n both chapters. My i n t e n t i o n i n t h i s t h e s i s i s t o speak o f Q u a k e r l i n e s s s i d e by s i d e w i t h F r y ' s thought and h i s p l a y s s o l e l y f o r t h e i n c r e a s e d u n d e r s t a n d i n g i t may g i v e o f h i s work.  I believe  t h a t by examining t h e p a r a l l e l s between Quakerism and F r y i t  ix i s p o s s i b l e t o a s s i s t an a p p r e c i a t i o n o f h i s work and t o u n d e r s t a n d i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e w i t h i n a frame o f r e f e r e n c e l a r g e r than that of h i s plays.  far  I do n o t w i s h t o e s t a b l i s h  any  impression  t h a t Quakerism has been an i n f l u e n c e on F r y ,  for  t h a t would i m m e d i a t e l y presume on t h e l i t e r a r y q u a l i t y  o f F r y ' s dramas.  F u r t h e r , i t would c o n t r a d i c t t h e s p i r i t  of Quakerism, i m p l y i n g t h a t i t i s c r e d a l and a u t h o r i t a r i a n , seeking The  i t s h e a l t h and growth i n c o n v e r s i o n  concept "Quaker" i s d e c e p t i v e ,  and e v a n g e l i s m .  o n l y a l a b e l — t h e name  d e r i s i v e l y g i v e n t o a group o f p e o p l e b e l i e v i n g i n a s p i r i t ual  way o f l i f e t o which George Fox's words gave  Unfortunately  expression.  as a l a b e l i t t e n d s t o obscure t h e p r o c e s s by  c o n f i n i n g t h i s concept t o t h e s e p e o p l e and t h e i r approach t o the circumstances of l i f e .  I n t r u e r p e r s p e c t i v e we f i n d  Quakers f r e e l y acknowledging o t h e r forms o f m y s t i c i s m and o t h e r agents o f concern f o r l i f e and t h e c o n d i t i o n o f man, but t h e y do n o t c a l l them Quakerism.  There always have been  c e r t a i n groups t h a t have i n common a concept o f t h e v a l u e o f l i f e , a concept o f r e l i g i o n as a n o n - d o c t r i n a l s p i r i t o f endeavour, and a d e s i r e t o p e r c e i v e g r e a t e r r e a l i t i e s and t h e meaning b e h i n d t h e forms we a c c e p t as commonplaces i n t h e w o r l d around us.  Quakers a r e one o f t h e f a m i l i e s who  t h r i v e on t h e s e c o n c e p t s .  F r y became a member o f t h i s  f a m i l y , but t h a t i s n o t t o s a y t h a t i t has i n f l u e n c e d him. It for  i s r a t h e r as though he has i n f l u e n c e d i t , f o r i t i s n o t t h e f a m i l y t o t e l l i t s members how t o behave.  It is  X r a t h e r f o r u s t o know t h a t f a m i l y from t h e way i t s i n d i v i d u a l members a c t .  Whether t h e y have a n y t h i n g i n common w i t h  o t h e r s i s a commentary on l i f e and does n o t t e l l us o f i n fluences.  The problem o f t h i s t h e s i s i s t h e r e f o r e , a ques-  tion of perspective.  J u s t a s t h e way an i n d i v i d u a l  behaves  and a c t s e x p r e s s e s t h e t r u e r l i v i n g n a t u r e b e h i n d h i s p h i l o s o p h i e s ( o r comments on t h e essence o f t h e group i f he acknowledges c e r t a i n common p u r s u i t s ) s o F r y ' s p l a y s a r e a commentary on Quakerism.  But t h i s i s o n l y i f we speak o f  influences. I can o n l y w i s h t h a t t h e r e a d e r be c o n t i n u a l l y aware o f my own p e r s p e c t i v e i n t h i s t h e s i s .  I am concerned o n l y w i t h  F r y ' s p e r s p e c t i v e o f l i f e , and b e l i e v e t h a t t h e e s s e n t i a l s p i r i t of h i s poetry l i e s t h e r e i n .  F u r t h e r , t o my mind, t h e  Quaker p o s i t i o n speaks o f t h i s same p e r s p e c t i v e and c a l l s on t h e same i n n e r f i r e s o f e x p e r i e n c e . t o equate t h e p o e t i c and r e l i g i o u s  Though t h i s would seem experiences  indiscrimi-  n a t e l y , t h e c o n n o t a t i o n s o f t h e s e two words i d e n t i f y t h e two aspects of t h i s experience very d i s t i n c t l y .  "Poeticality"  i d e n t i f i e s t h e l i t e r a r y and a e s t h e t i c q u a l i t i e s o f t h e exp e r i e n c e i n an a r t i s t such as F r y , whereas, " r e l i g i o s i t y " bespeaks t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l and t h e o l o g i c a l q u a l i t i e s o f a s i m i l a r e x p e r i e n c e i n someone l i k e a Quaker. P o e t r y and r e l i g i o n a r e i d e n t i c a l i n essence though they r e l a t e themselves d i f f e r e n t l y t o p r a c t i c a l l i f e : p o e t r y by a d r a m a t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n o f v a l u e s and r e l i g i o n by p r e c e p t s and a code.15 ->A.N. W i l d e r , Modern P o e t r y and t h e C h r i s t i a n T r a d i (New Y o r k : C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s , 1952), p. 13. X  tion  xi F i n a l l y , my j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r presuming on t h e p a r a l l e l s between F r y and Quakerism i s t h a t at t h e age o f eighteen F r y wished t o acknowledge what h i s l i f e had i n common with them by j o i n i n g them. The  major argument o f t h i s t h e s i s i s a l i t e r a r y one,  s i n c e i t s concern i s with themes and p a t t e r n s o f i d e a s , or b a s i c t r u t h s , and with t h e way these t h i n g s c o l o u r t h e g e n e r a l mood o f each p l a y .  Though i t does not bear d i r e c t  r e l e v a n c e t o these l i t e r a r y concerns Appendix A i s presented as an attempt t o r e t u r n t o t h e p e r s p e c t i v e I wish t h e reader t o be aware o f .  I t i s an attempt t o g i v e F r y ' s p l a y s some  p e r s p e c t i v e as r e l i g i o u s drama and verse drama, as w e l l as t o e s t a b l i s h the r e l a t i o n s h i p between a form o f romance drama used by F r y , and t h e a f f i r m a t i o n o f t h e mystery o f existence  (both i n F r y ' s p l a y s and i n Quakerism).  TABLE GF CONTENTS Chapter I. II.  Page  THE MYSTERY OF EXISTENCE IN FRY AND QUAKERISM . THE RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT IN CHRISTOPHER  FRY'S 21  PLAYS AND THE QUAKER PARALLELS The Boy With A Cart  1  (23)  A Phoenix Too Frequent  (27)  The Lady's Not For Burning  (33)  (38)  Venus Observed  The Dark Is L i g h t Enough ( 4 4 ) The F i r s t b o r n  (52)  Thor With Angels  (5#)  A Sleep Of P r i s o n e r s Curtmantle APPENDIX A.  APPENDIX B.  (66)  (73)  THE POETIC-RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND A CONTEMPORARY FORM OF ROMANCE DRAMA IN FRY'S PLAYS LETTER FROM CHRISTOPHER THIS THESIS  WORKS CONSULTED  FRY CONCERNING -. - . •  82  94 96  CHAPTER I THE MYSTERY OF EXISTENCE IN FRY AND  QUAKERISM  Central t o Christopher Fry's plays i s t h e i r  concern  w i t h t h e m y s t e r y o f e x i s t e n c e a n d t h e moments o f s u d d e n intuitive  cosmic  v i s i o n t h a t t r a n s c e n d t h e commonplace a s  they r i s e  out o f c o n f l i c t ,  c o n t r a d i c t i o n and paradox.  His  n o n - d r a m a t i c w o r k s o f f e r an e x p l a n a t i o n a n d a n e l a b o r a t i o n , f o r they and  are preoccupied with the philosophy  t h e y t h e o r i s e on t h e way  a form  v e y s h i s message t o t h e t h e a t r e .  tion. the  I t s ideals  spirit  chapter  call  manifest  I will  behind  any f o r m  v i e w s on comedy, t r a g e d y  the  combination  its  active  Fry.'' mystery  We  con-  of crea-  of experience.  of  In t h i s  o f t h e s e v i e w s a n d any  o u t o f them, s u c h  fic  as F r y ' s  speci-  and p o e t r y i n t h e t h e a t r e , o r  of the inner l i f e  o f t h e Quaker meeting and  expressions of humanitarian how  and  Q u a k e r i s m a l s o p r e s e n t s an  i t h a s w i t h an i n t u i t i o n  consider the nature  lost,  his vision  on man t o s e e k a n u n d e r s t a n d i n g  further issues that arise  "How  theme,  p o e t r y can i n c o r p o r a t e i t i n t o  o f drama t h a t a t once e x p r e s s e s  approach t o t h e concerns  of t h i s  concern.  amazed, how m i r a c u l o u s  O v e r and o v e r a g a i n he i n s i s t s  we a r e , " s a y s  on t h e c o m p l e t e  o f c r e a t i o n , t h e newness o f e a c h e x p e r i e n c e a n d t h e  ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "How L o s t , How Amazed, How A r e , " T h e a t r e A r t s , XXXVI ( A u g u s t , 1 9 5 2 ) , 27-  Miraculous  2  s i n g u l a r d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s o f man's p e r c e p t i o n s .  The aware-  ness' o f t h e s e s e n s a t i o n s i s capable o f p r e c i p i t a t i n g man's awakening out o f t h e w o r l d o f custom, h a b i t , and o r d e r ( t h a t he has q u i t e n a t u r a l l y c r e a t e d o f t h e commonplaces around him^ i f o n l y he w i l l p e r c e i v e t h e i r s i n g u l a r i t y .  Man sud-  denly faces c r e a t i o n w i t h i n the s m a l l world of h i s e x p e r i ence and i s l o s t . The i n e s c a p a b l e d r a m a t i c s i t u a t i o n f o r us a l l i s t h a t we have no i d e a what our s i t u a t i o n i s . We may be mortal. What then? We may be i m m o r t a l . What then? We a r e plunged i n t o an e x i s t e n c e f a n t a s t i c t o t h e p o i n t o f n i g h t m a r e , and however h a r d we r a t i o n a l i s e , o r however f i r m o u r r e l i g i o u s f a i t h , however c l o s e l y we dog t h e h e e l s o f s c i e n c e o r wheel among t h e s t a r s o f m y s t i c i s m , we cannot r e a l l y make head o r t a i l o f i t . [But] we g e t used t o i t . We g e t broken i n t o i t so g r a d u a l l y we s c a r c e l y n o t i c e i t . . . .2 But i t i s i n t h e moment o f l o s s t h a t man i s c l o s e s t t o t h e mystery, f o r he sees i t and i s overwhelmed by i t ; he i s l o s t i n i t w i t h o u t i d e n t i t y ; he i s p a r t o f a nameless c r e a t i o n s i m u l t a n e o u s l y p o s s e s s i n g and n o t p o s s e s s i n g o r d e r and reason. And now I come i n t o e x i s t e n c e , and I see my hand l y i n g on t h e t a b l e i n f r o n t o f me, and t h a t one t h i n g a l o n e , t h e f i r s t impact o f a hand, i s more d r a m a t i c t h a n Hamlet. What on e a r t h happens, t h e n , when t h e r e s t o f t h e w o r l d comes t o me, when t h e f u l l phantasmagoria o f t h e commonp l a c e breaks over my head? . . . we have o n l y t o s t a r t on a c a t a l o g u e t o know how h o p e l e s s our g r a s p i s . Thank God we a r e no more t h a n p a r t l y aware o f a l i t t l e a t a time. R e a l i t y i s i n c r e d i b l e , r e a l i t y i s a whirlwind. What we c a l l r e a l i t y i s a f a l s e g o d , t h e d u l l eye o f custom.3  2  Ibid.  Ibid.  " T h e r e i s a l w a y s s o m e t h i n g new  under the  mystery never ages," says Fry a l i t t l e same a r t i c l e . ^ ness  "Our  . . . t o be  difficulty  able  t o be  sun,  f u r t h e r on  i s t o be  o l d and  because  new  in  a the  a l i v e to the a t one  and  new-  the  same  5 time."  The  experience  o f c r e a t i o n ' s mystery i s not  result  of a search,  but  it  s i n c e i t and  anything  and  Though F r y  a realisation,  about t h e  same way  when he  considers  the  of the t r u t h . All truth i s a yet every Truth i t s own p l a c e , ( f o r i t i s but and t h e shadow substance.6  spiritual life  of l i f e  personal  are the  that  same. Quaker i s  expresses t h i s  experience  o f an  in  joy,  intuition  shadow e x c e p t t h e l a s t , e x c e p t t h e u t m o s t i s true i n i t s kind. I t i s substance i n t h o u g h i t be but a shadow i n a n o t h e r p l a c a r e f l e c t i o n f r o m an i n t e n s e r s u b s t a n c e ) ; i s t r u e shadow, as t h e s u b s t a n c e i s t r u e  i s the  personal  e n l i g h t e n m e n t and  i n b o t h h i s own  c o n c e r n and  i t achieves  lives  e x u l t s more i n t h e m y s t e r y , t h e  talking  Quakerly l i v i n g  s i n c e man  the  life  the  and  expression increased  i n the  of the i n d i v i d u a l understanding  institutions  of  of  social  welfare.  ^Ibid.,  p.  93.  ''Ibid.  ^ C h r i s t i a n F a i t h And P r a c t i c e I n The E x p e r i e n c e Of The S o c i e t y Of F r i e n d s , London Y e a r l y M e e t i n g o f t h e R e l i g i o u s S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s (London: Headley B r o t h e r s , 1 9 6 3 ) , a quote f r o m I s a a c P e n i n g t o n (1653) g i v e n i n some p r e l i m i n a r y r e marks "To The R e a d e r . " Further references to t h i s source w i l l be t o C h r i s t i a n F a i t h f o l l o w e d by t h e p a r a g r a p h l o c a t i o n s i n c e t h e book has no page n u m b e r i n g .  4 Examples drawn from the r e c o r d s of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o u s movement show how r e l i g i o n as such possesses an important s o c i a l f u n c t i o n i n c r e a t i n g s o c i a l organisms. I t i s a l s o evident t h a t the d i v i n e S p i r i t performs the f u n c t i o n of producing u n i t y w i t h i n the i n d i v i d u a l as w e l l as w i t h i n the group. I f not r e s i s t e d , the same S p i r i t i s a b l e t o overcome a l l d i s u n i t y everywhere among and w i t h i n men, and between man and God.7 The b e n e f i t t o s p i r i t u a l l i f e  and community a c t i v i t y i s mutual  s i n c e Quaker's s p i r i t u a l l i f e r e c i p r o c a t e s by drawing  on  ex-  p e r i e n c e f o r i t s a p p r e c i a t i o n s of the " d i v i n e m y s t e r i e s . "  A  constant exchange i s made between body and s o u l , mind and spirit,  e x p e r i e n c e , reason and  intuition.  Man f i n d s h i m s e l f i n the t w i l i g h t zone of reason, p o i s e d between two worlds, an upper world of L i g h t , and a lower world of Darkness, a S p i r i t u a l world which i s superhuman and a m a t e r i a l world which i s subhuman. He i s f r e e t o center h i s l i f e on one of the t h r e e ; he can l i v e by the L i g h t , he can l i v e by human reason, or he can l i v e at the mercy of h i s s e n s u a l c r a v i n g s . His body i s animal, h i s mind r a t i o n a l , and the L i g h t W i t h i n him i s d i v i n e . He i s never without a l l t h r e e though the t h r e e are so i n t i m a t e l y r e l a t e d that i t i s impossible to d i s t i n g u i s h between them s h a r p l y . Much depends on t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . The L i g h t of T r u t h should be a guide t o reason and reason should h e l p i n s t i n c t i n a p r o p e r l y ordered life.° I n s i g h t i n t o the d i v i n e essence moving i n c r e a t i o n  and  manifest w i t h i n every aspect of e x i s t e n c e i s the same as the understanding of s p i r i t  or p r i n c i p l e t h a t l i e s behind form or  any p e r c e p t i o n of the mysterious.  The  central fact  of  Quakerism as a group m y s t i c i s m i s the u n i t i n g power of the divine s p i r i t  i n t e g r a t i n g the group as an o r g a n i c whole, and  the h e a r t of Quaker t h e o l o g y has grown out of a c t u a l  ex-  7  'Howard H. B r i n t o n , F r i e n d s For 300 Harper, 1952), p. x i v .  8  I b i d . , p. 51.  Years  (New  York:  5 perience.  Furthermore, t h i s d i r e c t contact w i t h a p r i n c i p l e  t h a t was b e f o r e a l l s e c t s c a r r i e s t h e same s i g n i f i c a n c e t o day as i t d i d t o George Fox and t h e f i r s t  Friends.  The S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s a r o s e from a p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e of d i r e c t encounter w i t h God as r e v e a l e d i n Jesus C h r i s t . The c o n v i c t i o n t h a t C h r i s t can speak t o t h e c o n d i t i o n o f every man s p r e a d r a p i d l y among t h e s e e k e r s o f t h e sevent e e n t h c e n t u r y and has remained a t t h e c e n t r e o f t h e S o c i e t y ' s f a i t h and p r a c t i c e . 9 S i n c e t h i s f i r s t e x p e r i e n c e o f Fox, F r i e n d s have  considered  man t h e c h i l d o f c r e a t i o n , i n him l i e s l i f e and t h e s p i r i t o f the universe.  To u n d e r s t a n d and l i v e and grow i n t h e a p p r e c i -  a t i o n o f t h i s m y s t e r y and t h e p e r c e p t i o n i s t h e duty o f man, as Quakers see i t .  o f t h i s phenomenon W i l l i a m Penn e x p r e s s e d  t h i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g w i t h i n t h e C h r i s t i a n e x p e r i e n c e when he declared I t i s not o p i n i o n , o r s p e c u l a t i o n , o r n o t i o n s o f what i s t r u e . . . though n e v e r so s o u n d l y worded, t h a t . . . makes a man a t r u e b e l i e v e r o r a t r u e C h r i s t i a n . But i t i s a c o n f o r m i t y o f mind and p r a c t i c e t o t h e w i l l o f God, i n a l l h o l i n e s s of conversation, according t o the d i c t a t e s o f t h i s D i v i n e p r i n c i p l e o f L i g h t and L i f e i n t h e s o u l which denotes a p e r s o n t r u l y a c h i l d o f God.10 Though F r y r e j o i c e s i n c r e a t i o n and t h e i n t u i t i o n o f t h e mystery (not j u s t from t h e p o i n t o f view o f l i f e , but o f d e a t h and d e s t r u c t i o n t o o ) , he pursues t h e i s s u e i n t o r e l i g i o u s f e r v o u r and s o c i a l c o n s c i o u s n e s s , f o r d e a t h , d e s t r u c t i o n , d i s ease and s q u a l o r a r e a l l o f t h e l a w o f l i f e : — t h e n  ^ C h r i s t i a n F a i t h , I n t r o d u c t i o n , para,  creative  1.  I b i d . , "To The Reader," p a r a . 3 , f r o m W i l l i a m Penn (1692). 1 0  6 o r d e r c o n t a i n e d i n t h e apparent anarchy of l i f e . "  Yet i t  x x  i s o n l y t h e mystery a r i s i n g from t h e s e i n d i v i d u a l i s s u e s t h a t w i l l l e a d us t o t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e  vision.  I t i s t h e i m a g i n a t i o n w h i c h makes t h e w o r l d seem new t o us everyday. . . . I t i s t h e i m a g i n a t i o n w h i c h awakens the dry bones o f any s u b j e c t t o s i n g about t h e mystery o f c r e a t i o n . . . . You w i l l f i n d i n t h e s t o r y o f man's l i f e on e a r t h g r e a t wonders p e r c e i v e d by t h e s p i r i t , and u n l e s s you l i v e by t h e s e wonders you l i v e , i t seems t o me, i n an u l t i m a t e l y a i m l e s s w o r l d . . . . But t h e t h i n g s of t h e mind can be l e a r n e d o n l y by t h e mind, and t h e t h i n g s of t h e s p i r i t can be l e a r n e d o n l y by t h e a t t e n t i v e s p i r i t . W i t h o u t t h a t a t t e n t i o n you a r e l e s s t h a n h a l f y o u r s e l f . W i t h i t , you w i l l f i n d y o u r knowledge, your imagination, your r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h other p e o p l e , e v e r y t h i n g you do, t a k i n g on new importance and a g r e a t e r value.12 Here F r y i s s a y i n g what Quakerism has t o say about t h e n a t u r a l growth and e d u c a t i o n of t h e i n d i v i d u a l t o an u n d e r s t a n d i n g his  p o s i t i o n , a p r o c e s s t h a t r e l i e s h e a v i l y on t h e  ( t h a t o f God  of  conscience  i n everyman) and t h e a s s i s t a n c e g i v e n t o s e n s i -  b i l i t y by e x p e r i e n c e .  T h i s path of t r u t h and  enlightenment  l e a d s ever outward i n t o c r e a t i o n f r o m t h a t s m a l l spark w i t h i n . Community, e q u a l i t y , freedom, and harmony become c o n d i t i o n s t h a t a l l o w men  t o see t h e m s e l v e s , not j u s t g o a l s t h a t b r i n g  h a p p i n e s s and t h e y become t h e s t a r t i n g p o i n t f o r t h e u a l ' s s e a r c h f o r communication and u n i t y w i t h i n and These c o n d i t i o n s do not m a t e r i a l i s e out of t h e  individwithout.  impositions  o f e x t e r n a l law and o r d e r but grow from t h e i n n e r  spirit.  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , " T a l k i n g t o Henry," The T w e n t i e t h C e n t u r y , GLXIX ( F e b r u a r y , 1 9 6 1 ) , 187. 12 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Gn Keeping The Sense of Wonder," Vogue, CXXVII (January, 1956), 158.  7 The  empathy comes f r o m  acknowledgement ing  of i t s s a n c t i t y .  of the l i g h t  e x p e r i e n c e and  a deep r e v e r e n c e f o r l i f e Education—the  of c o n s c i e n c e — i s ,  any  intuition  and  i t may  an  intensify-  t h e r e f o r e , t h e key  to  foster.  The a t t i t u d e o f t h e S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s t o w a r d s e d u c a t i o n h a s been d e t e r m i n e d by t h e i r b e l i e f i n t h e I n n e r L i g h t . H o l d i n g a s t h e y do t h a t t h e r e i s s o m e t h i n g o f t h e d i v i n e i n everyman, t h e y h a v e r e g a r d e d e d u c a t i o n ( i n t h e b r o a d est sense) as t h e d e v e l o p i n g o f t h a t D i v i n e Seed, o r t h e f a n n i n g i n t o a flame o f t h a t D i v i n e Spark. . . . To F r i e n d s , t h e r e f o r e , e d u c a t i o n i s an i n t e n s e l y r e l i g i o u s t h i n g ; i t means t h e t r a i n i n g and d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e s p i r i t u a l l i f e , the l i b e r a t i n g of the Divine that i s w i t h i n us.13 In  his letter  that  has  robe  i s no  that  "we  "The  Play of Ideas," Fry r e i t e r a t e s a l l  been s t a t e d s o f a r , when he t e l l s  us t h a t  l e s s m i r a c u l o u s t h a n t h e whole s o l a r  c a n ' t comprehend e i t h e r  o f them.""^  " t h e u l t i m a t e a n s w e r t o most o f o u r p r o b l e m s in  t h e growth towards m a t u r i t y o f each  t h e Quaker means ceiving to  (above)  the v i s i o n ,  the problems o f today  But  . . . [may  the mystery,  and  and  though  c r e a t i o n as t h e  in particular,  mic-  system,"  i n d i v i d u a l , " he  of approaching  and u n d e r s t a n d i n g  "the  suggests  be] poses  peranswer that  man— may be so immersed i n t h e i m m e d i a t e s t r u g g l e t h a t he becomes l o s t t o t h e l a r g e r s t r u g g l e o f w h i c h t h i s i s a moment. A t s u c h a t i m e he n e e d s a l l h i s s e n s e s and p e r c e p t i o n s t o k e e p h i m aware o f what h i s e x i s t e n c e r e presents. He n e e d s e v e r y p r o p e r t y o f mind he p o s s e s s e s , a l l t h o s e a t t r i b u t e s w h i c h most c u r i o u s l y d i s t i n g u i s h  J  and  Christian  Faith,  section  " ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "The N a t i o n , XXXIX ( A p r i l 22,  442.  P l a y o f I d e a s , " New  1950),  458.  Statesman  8  him from h i s f e l l o w a n i m a l s — c o m p a s s i o n , l a u g h t e r , conc e r n beyond h i s own immediate n e i g h b o u r h o o d , a sense o f m y s t e r y , o f h i s own i n c o m p l e t e n e s s , and much more. He needs t o t h i n k and f e e l i n d e t a i l as d e e p l y as he t h i n k s and f e e l s i n g e n e r a l , as b e f i t s an i n h a b i t a n t o f a u n i v e r s e w h i c h deals i n m i l l i o n s o f l i g h t - y e a r s and m i l l i o n s of m i c r o b e s e q u a l l y . 1 5 Though t h e v i e w s o f F r y and t h e Quakers on t h e paradox of haphazard l i f e which y e t c o n t a i n s a p a t t e r n o f anatomy seem t o be t h e same, F r y r e l e g a t e s h i s views t o t h e drama, u s i n g i t as t h e medium f o r h i s message t o t h e t h e a t r e ' s audience. The w o r k i n g s o f t h e s p i r i t i n t h e m a t e r i a l u n i v e r s e a r e a c l a r i f i c a t i o n , not a m y s t i f i c a t i o n o f human l i f e . How f a r t h e p l a y w r i g h t can gucceed i n e x p r e s s i n g t h i s i s a l i f e t i m e j o b f o r him.16 His  e s s a y s and a r t i c l e s seem t o f o c u s t h e d i s c u s s i o n on t h r e e  i s s u e s i n p a r t i c u l a r , namely, t h e r e l e v a n c e o f t h e d r a m a t i c p r i n c i p l e s o f t r a g e d y and comedy t o e x p e r i e n c e and the  intuition,  r o l e o f t h e t h e a t r e , and t h e a p p r o p r i a t e n e s s o f p o e t i c  drama. In  one r e s p e c t a p l a y i s a c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f l i f e  a b r i e f moment o f t i m e and a c t i o n , complete i n i t s e l f .  into It  t r i e s t o say something above and beyond i t s e l f , so t h a t i t w i l l not be j u s t a r e f l e c t i o n o f r e a l i t y , v o i c e l e s s i n i t s imitation.  The t r a d i t i o n s around comedy and t r a g e d y a r e ,  i n t h e i r own way, an attempt t o phrase t h e d r a m a t i s t ' s 1 5  Ibid.  " ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y . " A u t h o r ' s S t r u g g l e , " The New Times ( F e b r u a r y 6, 1955), Sec. I I , i i i , 1.  York  9 o p i n i o n s and impressions i n the frame of a convention. are r e a l l y one of the fundamental means by which the  They  outlook  of a p l a y w r i g h t , the atmosphere of the time, and the comments of one on the other can best be expressed. own  F r y expresses h i s  views on the nature of tragedy and comedy as he sees them  w i t h c o n s i d e r a b l e c o n v i c t i o n i n a good number of h i s nondramatic w r i t i n g s .  Towards the end of h i s a r t i c l e "Comedy,"  he says, " I have come, you may  t h i n k , t o the verge of s a y i n g  t h a t comedy i s g r e a t e r than tragedy.  Gn the verge I stand  17 and go no f u r t h e r . "  Standing l o s t i n wonder at c r e a t i o n ,  he i n t e r p o l a t e s tragedy and comedy t o g e t h e r — t h e i r d i f f e r ence being "the d i f f e r e n c e between experience and i n t u i t i o n . " 18 He goes on t o e x p l a i n the connection. In the experience we s t r i v e a g a i n s t every c o n d i t i o n of our animal l i f e : a g a i n s t death, a g a i n s t the f r u s t r a t i o n of ambition, a g a i n s t the i n s t a b i l i t y of human l o v e . In the i n t u i t i o n we t r u s t the arduous e c c e n t r i c i t i e s we're born t o , and see the oddness of a c r e a t u r e who has never got a c c l i m a t i s e d t o being c r e a t e d . Laughter i n c l i n e s me t o know t h a t man i s e s s e n t i a l s p i r i t ; h i s body, w i t h i t s f u n c t i o n s and a c c i d e n t s and f r u s t r a t i o n s i s e n d l e s s l y quaint and remarkable t o him; and though comedy accepts our p o s i t i o n i n time, i t b a r e l y accepts our posture i n space.19 "Tragedy's experience hammers a g a i n s t the mystery," but "comedy i s an escape not from t r u t h , but from d e s p a i r i n t o  20 faith."  Fry may  be t a l k i n g about drama but h i s views on  17  iii  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Comedy," Tulane Drama Review, IV, (March, I960), 78. l 8  Ibid.  1 9  20 y  I b i d . , p.  77.  Ibid.  10 the connection  between a r t and l i f e have t h e u n m i s t a k a b l e  r i n g of what he and t h e Quakers had t o say about man's sense of d i r e c t i o n i n e x i s t e n c e , and  i t c o n t i n u e s t o do  Comedy's i n t u i t i o n i s a r e l i e f , and tragedy's  so.  e l e v a t i o n away f r o m  p a i n , where "every moment i s e t e r n i t y " t o t h e 21  l e v e l where " p a i n i s a f o o l s u f f e r e d g l a d l y . " I n The  Dark I s L i g h t Enough F r y t a k e s a passage from  J . H. Fabre t h a t seems t o t r a c e t h e p a r a d o x i c a l system of t h e o r d e r and t h e d i r e c t i o n o f l i f e t h r o u g h chaos. The weather was stormy; t h e sky h e a v i l y c l o u d e d ; t h e darkness . . . profound. . . . I t was a c r o s s t h i s maze of l e a f a g e , and i n a b s o l u t e d a r k n e s s , t h a t t h e b u t t e r f l i e s had t o f i n d t h e i r way i n o r d e r t o a t t a i n t h e end of t h e i r p i l g r i m a g e . Under such c o n d i t i o n s t h e s c r e e c h - o w l would not dare t o f o r s a k e i t s o l i v e - t r e e . The b u t t e r f l y . . . goes f o r ward w i t h o u t h e s i t a t i o n . . . . So w e l l i t d i r e c t s i t s tortuous f l i g h t t h a t , i n s p i t e of a l l the obstacles t o be evaded, i t a r r i v e s i n a s t a t e o f p e r f e c t f r e s h n e s s , i t s g r e a t wings i n t a c t . . . . The darkness i s l i g h t enough. . . .22 But t h i s does more t h a n speak f o r R i c h a r d G e t t n e r play. create.  i n that  I t seems t o t o u c h on t h e i m p r e s s i o n a l l F r y ' s Here i s a sense o f t h e i r i n e x o r a b l e ,  plays  undeviating  movement t h r o u g h comic chaos and t r a g i c f a t e t o a v i s i o n , t o a hope, or j u s t t o an end where chaos has o r d e r , where f a t e has p u r p o s e , where a l l movement s t o p s .  I t i s as though f r e e  and haphazard organs show t h e whole p a t t e r n o f t h e i r anatomy. Ibid. F a c i n g p.  1.  11 There i s an a n g l e o f e x p e r i e n c e where t h e dark i s d i s t i l l e d i n t o l i g h t ; e i t h e r here o r h e r e a f t e r , i n o r out of t i m e : where our t r a g i c f a t e f i n d s i t s e l f w i t h p e r f e c t p i t c h , and goes s t r a i g h t t o t h e key w h i c h c r e a t i o n was composed i n . And comedy senses and reaches out t o t h i s e x p e r i e n c e . I t s a y s , i n e f f e c t , t h a t , g r o a n i n g as we may be, we move i n t h e f i g u r e of a dance, and, so moving, we t r a c e t h e o u t l i n e o f t h e mystery.23 I f we say t h a t F r y ' s dramas frame h i s t h o u g h t , i t i s a l s o j u s t as t r u e t o say t h a t t h e y a r e v e r y much a p a r t of the t h e a t r e . concept for  He i n e x t r i c a b l y l i n k s h i s approach and h i s  o f drama t o t h e r o l e he sees t h e t h e a t r e p l a y i n g ,  " i f a t h e a t r e i s a l i v e i t i s because i t belongs t o t h e  l i f e outside i t s doors.^ ^ 2  I f t h e t h e a t r e can h e l p us t o see o u r s e l v e s and t h e w o r l d f r e s h l y , as though we had j u s t rounded t h e c o r n e r i n t o l i f e , i t w i l l be what e n t e r t a i n m e n t s h o u l d be, a h o l i d a y w h i c h s e t s us up t o c o n t i n u e l i v i n g a t t h e t o p o f our b e n t , and w o r t h , I t h i n k , any amount o f admonit i o n and prophecy o r t h e p h o t o g r a p h i c l i k e n e s s o f how we appear by custom.25 F r y f e e l s t h e r e i s no o b s t a c l e t o t h e f a c t t h a t he i s C h r i s t i a n and t h a t much o f h i s audience  a r e n o n - b e l i e v e r s f o r he  seldom w r i t e s s p e c i f i c a l l y i n C h r i s t i a n terms.  However,  "what m a t t e r s i s whether t h e audience has an i n t e r e s t i n l i f e , i n the f u l l e s t imaginative 2  sense." ^ 2  -*Fry, "Comedy," Tulane Drama Review (March, I 9 6 0 ) , 77.  F r y , "How L o s t , How Amazed, How Theatre A r t s (August, 1 9 5 2 ) , 73. 2 5  M i r a c u l o u s We  Ibid.  F r y , " T a l k i n g o f Henry," The T w e n t i e t h ( F e b r u a r y , 1961), 189.  Century  Are,"  12  Then t h e r e i s t h e a p p r o p r i a t e n e s s o f p o e t i c drama.  It  i s , as i t were, t h e medium w i t h which he t r a n s f e r s h i s thought theatre.  t o f u l f i l t h e purposes o f e n t e r t a i n m e n t  i n the  P o e t i c i n s p i r a t i o n i s a k i n t o m y s t i c a l experience  i n i t s a t t e m p t s t o g r a s p t h e mystery and beauty o f n a t u r a l o r d e r t h r o u g h t h e use o f l i v e image and f r e s h symbol, and 27  " r e l i g i o n n e c e s s a r i l y expresses i t s e l f i n poetry."  In  f a c t p o e t r y i s t h e attempt t o a c h i e v e t h i s m y s t i c a l e x p e r i ence i n a r t and a e s t h e t i c s . I n F r y ' s words, The C h r i s t i a n f a i t h i s an e x p r e s s i o n of t h e human b e i n g , o f what has happened t o him and i s s t i l l happening. We a r e a l l i n v o l v e d i n a p r o c e s s which i t i s s i m p l e r t o c a l l God t h a n a n y t h i n g e l s e ; and i f I can manage t o w r i t e a b o u t — n o t t h e o r i e s — b u t what i t f e e l s l i k e t o be a l i v i n g man i n f a c t , I am w r i t i n g about what every man f e e l s , even i f i n doubt o r r e j e c t i o n . 2 8 I f we s t o p p r e t e n d i n g f o r a moment t h a t we were born f u l l y d r e s s e d i n a s e r v i c e f l a t , and remember t h a t we were born s t a r k naked i n t o a pandemonium o f most unn a t u r a l phenomena, t h e n we know how out o f p l a c e , how l o s t , how amazed, how m i r a c u l o u s we a r e . And t h i s r e a l i t y i s the province of poetry.29 I t i s i n such remarks t h a t F r y c l i n c h e s t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p  be-  tween r e l i g i o n and p o e t r y as t h a t q u a l i t y o f r e l i g i o u s v e r s e drama i n a l l h i s p l a y s , f o r " i f any a r e r e l i g i o u s t h e y a r e 30  a l l religious.  ..."  I n f a c t he t e l l s us t h a t we  should  A m o s N. W i l d e r , Modern P o e t r y and The C h r i s t i a n T r a d i t i o n (New York: C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s , 1 9 5 2 ) , p. 9. 27  F r y , " T a l k i n g o f Henry," The T w e n t i e t h ( F e b r u a r y , 1961), 189.  Century  29  ' F r y , "How L o s t , How Amazed, How M i r a c u l o u s We A r e , " Theatre A r t s (August, 1952), 7330 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , Three P l a y s (London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , I 9 6 0 ) , Foreword, v i i .  13 assume a l l t h i s when h i s p l a y s are i n view. I only ask you t o a l l o w me t o suppose an organic d i s c i p l i n e , p a t t e r n or p r o p o r t i o n i n the u n i v e r s e , evident i n a l l t h a t we see, which i s a government u n i t i n g the g r e a t e s t with the l e a s t , form w i t h behaviour, n a t u r a l event w i t h h i s t o r i c event, which stamps i t s mark through us and through our p e r c e p t i o n s , as the name of B r i g h t o n i s marked through a s t i c k of rock candy ... I ask you t o allow me t o suppose a shaping but undogm a t i e a l presence ' f e l t i n the b l o o d , and along the h e a r t , which i s of a k i n d w i t h the law of g r a v i t y , and the moral law, and the law which g i v e s us two l e g s and not s i x . 31 As f o r the r e l a t i o n s h i p between poetry and the t h e a t r e , 1  Fry declares that the t h e a t r e we should always be t r y i n g t o achieve i s one where the persons and events have the r e c o g n i s a b l e r i n g of an o l d t r u t h , and yet seem t o occur i n a l i g h t n i n g spasm of d i s c o v e r y . That, a g a i n , i s the p r o v i n c e of poetry.32 He takes both back i n t o drama i t s e l f when he adds, I t i s a p r o v i n c e of l a r g e extent; I see i t ranging from tragedy, through comedy of a c t i o n and comedy of mood, even down t o the playground of f a r c e ; and each of these has i t s own p a r t i c u l a r c o n f l i c t , t e n s i o n , and shape, which, i f we look f o r them, w i l l p o i n t the way t o the p l a y ' s purpose.33 Poetry belongs t o the realm  of d i s c u s s i o n and yet i t i s not  out of p l a c e i n the t h e a t r e , f o r though "we  go t o the t h e a t r e  t o be i n t e r e s t e d by a s t o r y of l i v e s l i v i n g out t h e i r conf l i c t s i n a c o n c e n t r a t i o n of time," words g i v e us a l a r g e r , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Why V e r s e , " Playwrights on Play w r i g h t i n g , ed. Toby Cole (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1962), pp. 126-127. 32 F r y , "How L o s t , How Amazed, How M i r a c u l o u s We Are," Theatre A r t s (August, 1952), 93. 3 3  Ibid.  14 or deeper, experience theatre an  is  rt  3  what i t i s , " and  appreciation that  experience  of a c t i o n . ^  What p o e t r y  under the  c a r r i e s the  of b e i n g , " whether the  says i n  immediate sense  the lies  a t m o s p h e r e o f "a c e r t a i n a u d i e n c e i s aware o f i t  35 or not. with  the  inherent the  i n the  concentration  Poetry  the  universal truths person  a l s o c o n t r i b u t e s to the t h e a t r e ,  because i t i s the  o f an  commensurate  o f t i m e , p l a c e and  otherwise  a c t i o n of l i s t e n i n g ;  flat  understanding  by  the  a c t i o n , by h e i g h t e n i n g  ence i n t e r m s o f a d d i n g meaning and ing  case  p u r p o s e o f drama, w h i c h p r e s e n t s  stage.  feels, tion  T h i s a p p r e c i a t i o n i s i n any  y  drawing  truth.  I t i s i n those  t h a t we  perceive the world  on  Fry  elaborathe  experi-  s i g n i f i c a n c e and  deepen-  i t nearer  moments o f s i l e n t  some more b a s i c comprehension  most i n t e n s e l y and  the  emotions  s t i r r e d a r e a s deep i n b e i n g a s t h e y a r e w o r d l e s s . I t i s t h i s comprehension which p o e t r y t r i e s t o speak, t h i s r e v e l a t i o n o f d i s c i p l i n e t h a t comes up out o f t h e e a r t h , or i s f e l t along the h e a r t ; i t i s t h i s which v e r s e has t o o f f e r . 3 7 So t h e g e n e r a l l i n e s o f t h e p l a y , t h e s h a p e o f t h e s t o r y , t h e d i s p o s i t i o n o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s , s h o u l d p o i n t and imp l i c a t e by t h e i r a c t i o n s and t h e i r w i d e r u s e s t h e t e x t u r e  p.  ^Vpry,  i  n  playwrights  126. 3 5  Ibid.,  p.  3 6  Ibid.,  pp.  3 7  Ibid.,  p.  127. 127-129. 130.  on  Playwrighting  (New  York,  1962),  15 of t h e poetry. The l a r g e p a t t e r n o f t h e a c t i o n s h o u l d have a meaning i n i t s e l f , above and beyond t h e s t o r y ; t h e k i n d o f meaning w h i c h g i v e s e v e r l a s t i n g t r u t h t o myths and l e g e n d s , and makes t h e f a i r y s t o r y i n t o a sober f a c t ; a meaning n o t so c o n s c i o u s as a p a r a b l e o r so c o n t r i v e d as an a l l e g o r y , but as i t were t r a c i n g a f i g u r e w h i c h t h e p o e t r y can n a t u r a l l y and i n e v i t a b l y fill.3« d  What a l l o f t h i s r e v e a l s i s an e x t r a o r d i n a r y  comprehensive-  n e s s , u n i t y , and wholeness i n every f a c e t o f F r y , whether i t i s i n h i s a r t o r h i s approach t o l i f e .  The r e s u l t i s a  c l e a r sense o f a c e r t a i n s p i r i t o r atmosphere i n F r y t h a t s u f f e r s v e r y l i t t l e vagueness o r d i f f u s i o n .  Perhaps C a r o l i n e  Graveson's remarks c o n t r i b u t e t o an a p p r e c i a t i o n o f t h i s sense o f c o n t e m p l a t i v e g r a v i t y and r e l i g i o u s s e r i o u s n e s s  which i s  c o n s i s t e n t l y b e h i n d an e x u b e r a n t , j o y f u l and spontaneous l i f e i n F r y ' s work. U n l e s s m a t t e r s o f c u l t u r e a r e more c l e a r l y shown t o be v i t a l l y r e l a t e d t o r e l i g i o n , an " i n c r e a s i n g element i n l i f e w i l l s t a n d o u t s i d e o f t h e r e l i g i o u s s p h e r e , and l i f e become e i t h e r more and more d i s i n t e g r a t e d o r wholly secularised.39 W h i l e F r y pursues h i s a p p r e c i a t i o n s v i s i o n o f i t i n t o drama, p o e t r y ,  o f l i f e and h i s  and t h e t h e a t r e , t h e Quaker's  views i n h a b i t an expanding s p i r i t t h a t r e a c h e s out i n t o a l i f e o f a c t i o n more and more. centre  of FriendsL  The meeting f o r w o r s h i p i s t h e  spiritual life.  I n i t Quakers f i n d t h e  s o u r c e o f t h e i r s p i r i t u a l growth and w e l l b e i n g . :  l b i d . , p. 129.  ' c h r i s t i a n F a i t h , s e c t i o n 463.  16 The S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s has always r e c o g n i s e d t h a t c o r porate worship i s c e n t r a l t o i t s l i f e . Both i n t h e p a s t and i n t h e p r e s e n t such w o r s h i p l i e s b e h i n d t h e Quaker t e s t i m o n i e s a g a i n s t t h e a c t i v i t i e s and c o n d i t i o n s t h a t h i n d e r t h e s p i r i t u a l u n i o n o f mankind w i t h God and w i t h one a n o t h e r , and b e h i n d t h e p o s i t i v e concerns t h a t favour that union. F o r F r i e n d s t h e r e i s i n u n i t e d wors h i p a sense o f a d v e n t u r e i n t h e c o n s c i o u s n e s s t h a t t h e Holy S p i r i t has new l i g h t and t r u t h t o r e v e a l . 4 0 The  meeting f o r w o r s h i p i s a g a t h e r i n g  i n silence.  In i t  F r i e n d s a r e drawn by t h e same f e l l o w s h i p t h a t s t i r r e d Fox and t h e f i r s t Quakers, and t h e i r s e a r c h f o r God b e g i n s i n removing o b s t r u c t i o n s , such as s e l f w i l l and w o r l d l y d e s i r e s , g r e e d , p r i d e and l u s t , so t h a t t h e i n n e r room may be r e a d y f o r t h e d i v i n e g u e s t i f he s h o u l d e n t e r . . . . The Seed i n any man can be c u l t i v a t e d by c a r e f u l a t t e n t i o n w a t e r and n o u r i s h ment. However, i t s growth can never be f o r c e d i n t o m a t u r i n g i n t o t h e p e r f e c t i o n o f i n n e r c a p a c i t i e s which i s ever t h e Quakers g o a l , though i t i s never an end.4-1 The p r o c e s s by w h i c h a Quaker meeting comes i n t o u n i t y may be t y p i c a l o f t h e whole e v o l u t i o n a r y p r o c e s s t h r o u g h which God c r e a t e s . T h i s e v o l u t i o n proceeds not by comp e t i t i o n but by c o - o p e r a t i o n . 4 2 Through t h e M o n t h l y , Q u a r t e r l y , and Y e a r l y M e e t i n g s F r i e n d s seek t o o r d e r and conduct t h e i r a f f a i r s and b u s i n e s s ; t o s t i m u l a t e and p r e s e r v e t h e i r f e l l o w s h i p and purpose; t o acknowledge t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as human b e i n g s ;  relate  t h e i r c o n c e r n s and d u t i e s as r a t i o n a l l o v i n g c r e a t u r e s ; and to exercise t h e i r resources,  both as a w o r l d  I b i d . , I n t r o d u c t i o n , para.  6.  B r i n t o n , F r i e n d s F o r 3 0 0 Y e a r s (New Y o r k , 1952), 66 and 205-206": i f l  pp.  community and  ^ I b i d . , p. 219.  17 as i n d i v i d u a l s f o r t h e c o n d i t i o n s o f  humanity.  Our c o n g r e g a t i o n s and our members i n d i v i d u a l l y need, above a l l t h i n g s , t o m a n i f e s t a s p i r i t u a l f e l l o w s h i p v i t a l l y i n t o u c h w i t h t h e needs o f men. . . . [We s h o u l d ] bear i n mind t h a t i t w i l l be t h e warmth o f f e l l o w s h i p and b r o t h e r h o o d i n our c o n g r e g a t i o n s t h a t w i l l a t t r a c t and speak of t h e l o v e of God.43 The r e l i g i o u s s e r v i c e o f our meetings and t h e s o c i a l s e r v i c e o f F r i e n d s . . . [ a r e ] complementary . . . s i n c e t h e y a r e r o o t e d i n t h e same l i f e and s p i r i t . 44 F r i e n d s ' h u m a n i t a r i a n concern i s e v i d e n c e d by t h e w e l l administered  p h i l a n t h r o p i c and c h a r i t a b l e work f o r which  t h e y a r e known t o d a y .  The t e s t i m o n i e s  that  characterise  t h i s h u m a n i t a r i a n i s m a r e t h e r e s u l t o f t h e Quaker's s p i r i t u a l l i f e and a r e e x p r e s s i v e  of the r e v e l a t i o n s of the  "Light  W i t h i n " and o f t h e u n d e r s t a n d i n g g e n e r a t e d by i t . I n i t s h i s t o r y t h e S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s has produced many people whose l i v e s o f c o n s p i c u o u s s e r v i c e have p r o f o u n d l y i n f l u e n c e d t h e i r t i m e s . . . . T h e i r s e r v i c e sprang d i r e c t l y out o f t h e i r r e l i g i o u s f a i t h , but t h i s f a i t h was i t s e l f s t i m u l a t e d and f o s t e r e d by t h e r e l i g i o u s atmosphere i n which t h e y l i v e d . 4 5 H i s t o r i c a l d e m o n s t r a t i o n s of p a r t i c u l a r concerns f o r l i f e  and  t r u t h have been seen i n t h e a p p l i c a t i o n s o f h u m a n i t a r i a n i s m and a s o c i a l t e s t i m o n y w i t h t h e p r i s o n r e f o r m s o f E l i z a b e t h F r y , W i l l i a m Tuke's work f o r m e n t a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , John Woolman's concern f o r negro s l a v e s , t h e s u c c e s s o f W i l l i a m Penn's s t a t e w o r k i n g on Quaker p r i n c i p l e s , and t h e schemes o f Penn ^ C h r i s t i a n Faith, section 3  44^ I b i d . , section 45-I b i d . , s e c t i o n  38#. 597.  286.  18 and B e l l a r s f o r European peace, which a n t i c i p a t e d t h e League of  N a t i o n s and t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n s .  However, t h e Quaker  peace t e s t i m o n y i s p r o b a b l y t h e b e s t known and t h e most deeply rooted. We a r e d e e p l y c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h e t e s t i m o n y f o r Peace, which we b e l i e v e has been e n t r u s t e d t o us as a S o c i e t y , i s not an a r t i f i c i a l appendage t o our f a i t h , which can be dropped w i t h o u t i n j u r i n g t h e whole, but r a t h e r an o r g a n i c out-growth o f our b e l i e f as C h r i s t i a n s and as F r i e n d s , which cannot be abandoned w i t h o u t m u t i l a t i n g our whole message f o r t h e world.46 Peace i s a way which t h e f i r s t  o f l i f e and t h e fundamental Quakers' Testimony  arose.  e x p e r i e n c e out of I t s p r i n g s from  t h e e x p e r i e n c e of t h e " L i g h t " and i s t h e outcome o f t h e whole c h a r a c t e r , whether o f group o r o f i n d i v i d u a l ,  and  t a k e s every p a r t o f l i f e t o i t s e l f . The F r u i t s o f Peace must be m a n i f e s t e d i n e v e r y d e p a r t ment o f our l i f e . Whenever we a c t u n j u s t l y o r c o n n i v e at i n j u s t i c e we a r e p o t e n t i a l war mongers: every s e l f i s h act i s a bomb dropped on our f e l l o w s . 4 7 Every u n s e l f i s h a c t i s a r e c o g n i t i o n o f l i f e , a r e s p e c t f o r i n d i v i d u a l i t y , and a r e v e r e n c e f o r t h a t of God i n everyone. Our peace t e s t i m o n y . . . e x p r e s s e s our v i s i o n o f t h e whole C h r i s t i a n way o f l i f e ; i t i s our way o f l i v i n g i n t h i s w o r l d , , o f l o o k i n g a t t h i s w o r l d and o f changi n g t h i s world.48 But i t i s not enough f o r t h e Quaker t o d e c l a r e h i m s e l f a p a c i f i s t , f o r p a c i f i s t d e m o n s t r a t i o n i s i n a sense a s e l f ^ I b i d . , s e c t i o n 623, p a r a . 1. ' G e r a l d K. H i b b e r t , Quaker Fundamentals F r i e n d s Home S e r v i c e Committee), p. 9. 48  C h r i s t i a n F a i t h , s e c t i o n 624, p a r a . 1.  (London:  19 c o n t r a d i c t i o n and not n e c e s s a r i l y i n d i c a t i v e of u n d e r s t a n d ing  or humanitarian concern.  Instead  i t r e q u i r e s t h a t men and n a t i o n s s h o u l d r e c o g n i s e t h e i r common b r o t h e r h o o d , u s i n g t h e weapons o f i n t e g r i t y , r e a s o n , p a t i e n c e and l o v e , never a c q u i e s c i n g i n t h e ways of t h e o p p r e s s o r , always r e a d y t o s u f f e r w i t h t h e oppressed.49 And a l o n g s i d e t h e s e a t t e m p t s t o mediate over c o n f l i c t  gooall  F r i e n d s ' o t h e r t e s t i m o n i e s , which seek t o r e c o n c i l e humanity to  i t s c i r c u m s t a n c e s by a i d i n g and a s s i s t i n g t h o s e s u f f e r i n g  t h e consequences,  not o n l y o f c o n f l i c t but p o v e r t y , m i s e r y ,  d i s e a s e , and i g n o r a n c e . We may never d e s e r t t h e v i c t i m s o f o p p r e s s i o n , but we must endeavour t o r e a l i s e t h e c o n d i t i o n s and needs both of t h e o p p r e s s o r and t h e oppressed.50 The a r t i s t i c , d r a m a t i c a l and t h e a t r i c a l forms t a k e n by F r y ' s a p p r e c i a t i o n of t h e mystery and by t h e n e c e s s i t y of i n c o r p o r a t i n g t h e mystery i n t o t h e l i f e o f modern man  are  t o t a l l y u n r e l a t e d t o t h e h u m a n i t a r i a n g o s p e l conveyed by t h e Quakers' a p p r e c i a t i o n o f m y s t i c i s m .  However, i t i s t h e  s p i r i t b e h i n d Quakerism and F r y ' s dramas t h a t m a i n t a i n s t h e p a r a l l e l i n i t i a l l y drawn between t h e i r s i m i l a r comprehension of t h i s mystery t h a t surrounds man of h i s e x i s t e n c e .  and t h a t i s t h e  essence  The purpose o f t h e next c h a p t e r i s t o  c l a r i f y t h i s p a r a l l e l and t o examine i t i n t h e l i g h t of t h e I b i d . , s e c t i o n 621,  para. 3.  I b i d . , s e c t i o n 537,  p a r a . 3.  20  c o n f l i c t s and s c e p t i c i s m i n each p l a y , from w h i c h comes a knowledge o f t h e r e a l i t y o f l i f e ' s paradoxes, b e t t e r  still,  a v i s i o n of t h e i r c o n t r a d i c t o r y n a t u r e , and best o f a l l , t h e i n t u i t i o n o f t h e m y s t e r i o u s system t h a t sees them a l l b e l o n g i n g t o one law i n s p i r i t  and form.  CHAPTER I I THE  RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT IN CHRISTOPHER FRY'S PLAYS AND THE QUAKER PARALLELS Each o f C h r i s t o p h e r F r y ' s p l a y s i s "a l i n k i n t h e c h a i n ,  one s e c t i o n o f which s u b s t a n t i a t e s t h e r e s t , " o r , t a k e n t o g e t h e r , t h e y "assume the form o f a s i n g l e o r g a n i c b o d y . " "They o v e r l a p and a r e f u l l o f mutual echoes:  1  conceptual 2  echoes, because F r y never r e p e a t s an image o r j e s t . "  In  o t h e r words, t h e u n i t y o f F r y ' s p l a y s as a whole i s i n t h e way  they are arranged  about a common c e n t r e .  t h i s c e n t r e each p l a y i s , by comparison t o t h e  In r e l a t i o n t o seasonal  comedies, a n o t h e r a s p e c t o f t h e same themes and c o n c e p t s , t h e e x p r e s s i o n o f a d i f f e r e n t mood.  Thus t h e importance o f  each i s not f o r i t s d i f f e r e n c e , but i t s s i m i l a r i t y , and g r e a t e s t concern  or  Fry's  i s t o t a l k about "the theme w i t h i n t h i s  mood, and t h e p a t t e r n or p l o t w i t h i n t h e theme." Anne Greene c o n s i d e r s t h e p a t t e r n of i d e a s t h a t t r a c e s t h e mystery i n F r y ' s p l a y s t o i n c l u d e (1) t h e wonder o f t h e commonplace—of c r e a t i o n i t s e l f ,  (2) man's sense o f  estrange-  ment i n h i s own w o r l d , t o g e t h e r w i t h h i s need f o r c l a r i t y , D e r e k S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y : An A p p r e c i a t i o n (London: P e t e r N e v i l l , 1952), p. 57. "~ 2 0. Mandel, "Theme i n t h e Drama o f C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , " Etudes A n g l a i s , X (1957), 336. ^D. S t a n f o r d , op. c i t . , pp. 57-58. x  22  (3) t h e b e w i l d e r i n g and  mesh o f God, (4) t h e mystery o f l o v e ,  (5) f a i t h i n l i f e ' s purposes.^"  Quaker p r i n c i p l e s a r e s u b s t a n t i a t e d  I n t h i s p a t t e r n many both by t h e i r r e l e v a n c e  t o t h e same concept o f t h e mystery and t h r o u g h i n s i s t e n c e s such a s , l i f e as t h e c e n t r a l i d e a i n t h e s e p l a y s , t h e i n d i v i d u a l as t h e c e n t r e o f e x i s t e n c e , i n t u i t i o n o f meaning b e h i n d e x p e r i e n c e , l i f e b e h i n d f o r m , t h e break t h r o u g h o f a t r u e r s p i r i t , and c o n f l i c t ending i n r e c o n c i l i a t i o n t h r o u g h d e a t h o r l o v e , but e i t h e r way t o t h e l i f e behind i t a l l . Broad and m y s t e r i o u s though t h e i m p l i c a t i o n s o f a l l t h i s may be, F r y r e n d e r s them as t h e a l l encompassing r e a l i t y o r m i d d l e ground t h a t p l a c e s Q u a k e r l i n e s s as t h e i d e a l i n humani t y ' s p u r s u i t o f t h e good i n i t s e l f on one s i d e , and h i s own p l a y s as s p e c i f i c e x e m p l i f i c a t i o n s o f t h e s e i n s i s t e n c e s on the  other. Qne t h i n g I was t r y i n g t o do ( i n t h e comedies) was t o g i v e an appearance o f i m p r o v i s a t i o n , o f f r e e and almost haphazard l i f e , w h i l e k e e p i n g w i t h i n i t a t a u t p a t t e r n or a n a t o m y — a n e f f o r t t o r e p r o d u c e t h e p r o l i x i t y o f n a t u r a l t h i n g s w h i c h y e t c o n t a i n w i t h i n them l a w and form and d i r e c t i o n . 5  Whether i t i s Q u a k e r l i n e s s o r n o t i s c o m p l e t e l y i r r e l e v a n t , but t h e p a r a l l e l l i e s t h e r e as though i t were t h e i n t u i t i o n and t h e i n t u i t i v e mind t h a t pervades h i s p l a y s as a s p i r i t , ^ P r i e s t l e y , B r i d i e and F r y : "The M y s t e r y o f E x i s t e n c e i n T h e i r Dramatic Works,"Ph.D. d i s s e r t a t i o n a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f W i s c o n s i n (1957), p. 359. 5  Christopher (see Appendix B ) .  F r y , from a l e t t e r t o I a i n K i r k a l d y - W i l l i s  23 demonstrating  i t s e l f as e i t h e r  a cosmic v i s i o n or a way of  l i f e i n p u r s u i t o f the mystery o f c r e a t i o n r e v e a l e d by t h e vision. it  Quakerism encompasses t h i s v i s i o n , i f only because  exemplifies certain  r e a l i t i e s through which some o f the  Quaker b e l i e f s manifest The  c o n f l i c t s i n a l l F r y ' s p l a y s concern t h e p u l l and  attraction and  n  the  themselves.  o f an empiric s c i e n t i f i c formula  on t h e one hand  s p e l l o f i r r a t i o n a l w o n d e r — t h e magnetism of the  mystery o f t h i n g s " on t h e o t h e r . " ^ p e r i e n c e "an inner-tug-of-war  A l l t h e c h a r a c t e r s ex-  between c r e d u l i t y  and s c e p t i c -  7 ism," which, o b j e c t i f i e d , becomes b e l i e f and doubt.  In  examining t h i s sense o f c o n f l i c t i n F r y ' s p l a y s , r e f e r e n c e s t o Quakerism w i l l be made i n order t o i l l u m i n a t e t h i s i s s u e , and at t h e same time t o j u s t i f y t h e p a r a l l e l s a l r e a d y drawn between i t s e l f and F r y . THE  BOY WITH A CART Though The Boy With A Cart was F r y ' s f i r s t  perhaps the c l e a r e s t  play i t i s  and most s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d e x p r e s s i o n o f  h i s "cosmic v i s i o n , " s i n c e i t i s a simple statement o f s a i n t l i n e s s and C h r i s t i a n  faith.  p l a y s " convey t h e same q u a l i t y  Though t h e other  "religious  o f s p i r i t and t h e c e r t a i n  ^D. S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y : An A p p r e c i a t i o n (London, 1952), p. 58. 7  Ibid.  24  e x p l i c i t n e s s o f C h r i s t i a n p r i n c i p l e s and b e l i e f s t h a t are o n l y i m p l i c i t i n t h e comedies or Curtmantle, they a l s o demonstrate  the c o m p l i c a t i o n s  o f i n d i r e c t symbols and  a l l u s i o n s as w e l l as p l o t s t h a t a r e more s p e c i f i c and l e s s d i r e c t l y r e l e v a n t t o the C h r i s t i a n s p i r i t u a l s e t t i n g .  The  s p i r i t u a l c l i m a t e o f The Boy With A Cart i s o f medieval peasants, hagiography, mystery and simple innocence and t h e conflict  i s one o f f a i t h and s c e p t i c i s m , r e l i g i o n and  materialism  i n t h e most d i r e c t sense.  Out of h i s f a t h e r ' s death Cuthman becomes a man; I have stayed t o o long w i t h the c h i l d r e n , a boy s l i d i n g On t h e easy i c e , s k a t i n g t h e f o o l i s h s i l v e r Over t h e e n t a n g l i n g weed and t h e eddying water. Grant t h i s , 0 God, t h a t I may grow t o my f a t h e r As he grew t o Thy Son, and h i s son Now and f o r a l w a y s . 8  Cuthman i s a C h r i s t i a n and a s a i n t .  However, i t i s h i s  s a i n t l i n e s s t h a t d i s t i n g u i s h e s him more than h i s C h r i s t i a n f a i t h , f o r the p l a y i s about Cuthman and the working t o gether o f root and sky; God and man, as he grows t o t h e w i l l of God. contact  Cuthman t h e s a i n t makes h i s own l i f e  through d i r e c t  w i t h t h e mystery, w h i l e a hero l i k e Moses i n The  F i r s t b o r n s e t s h i m s e l f a p a r t , on t o p of a wave o f n a t i o n a l ism.  When t h e wave breaks Moses sees and f e e l s the r e s t o f  the ocean pounding him on t h e sands o f l i f e .  I t i s even, so  8 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , The Boy With A Cart (London: F r e d e r i c k M u l l e r , 1 9 5 7 ) , p. 8. A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n the t e x t .  25 w i t h Henry i n Curtmantle.  The law he seeks t o b r i n g about  comes from the l a w l e s s n e s s o f h i s own l i f e ,  f o r when t h e r e  i s no law any attempt t o impose o r d e r i s a n a r c h i c .  Life  antagonised, responds t o anarchy as the d e s i r e o f freedom to  replace authority.  While experience l e a v e s Moses washed  up l o o k i n g at a t i m e l e s s ocean, and f e e l i n g the c l a s h o f good and e v i l , seas and sands, where before he f e l t he t r a v e l l e d t h e c r e s t of a wave, i t l e a v e s Henry dead.  Henry  fought t h e waves and was d e s t r o y e d by them b e f o r e he even got  t o t h e f i r m e r sands o f l i f e .  Henry's confused perspec-  t i v e r e p l a c e d t h e cause o f n a t i o n a l l i f e w i t h t h e cause of a k i n g through the i d e a o f the Plantagenet cause and t h e d i v i n e r i g h t of kings.  But i n t u i t i o n l e a d s Cuthman beyond  experi-  ence, "There under the bare w a l l s o f our l a b o u r , " and i t l i v e s where he f e e l s "death and l i f e were k n o t t e d i n one s t r e n g t h / I n d i v i s i b l e as root and s k y . " (p. 39)  The move t o  r e s o l u t i o n through t h e p e t t y squabbles and c o n f l i c t s of a l l who would dare t o even r i d i c u l e the d i v i n e purpose, l i k e t h e r e a p e r s , l e t alone c o n t r a d i c t i t , l i k e A l f r e d , Demiwulf and Mrs. F i p p s , i s sublime.  The s p r i n g ±;oot and sky o f young  Cuthman's v i s i o n o f God i n t h e n a t u r a l world grows i n t o God's will.  Man and God work t o g e t h e r l i k e r o o t and sky and where  they meet i s the Church, incomplete and d e s e r t e d u n t i l  Christ  the  c a r p e n t e r redeems i t and p l a c e s t h e k i n g - p o s t t o complete  the  f a i t h l>n t h e undaunted  purpose d r i v i n g Cuthman.  And t h e  26  people of South England account f o r Moses and Henry and  us—  And what of us who upon Cuthman's world Have g r a f t e d progress without l o c k or r a t c h e t ? What of us who have t o catch up, always To c a t c h up with the high-powered c a r , or w i t h The unbalanced budget, t o cope w i t h c o m p e t i t i o n , To weather the sudden thunder of the uneasy F r o n t i e r ? (p. 39) They t e l l us t h a t the purpose l i v e s may  i s s t i l l t h e r e even though our  not even f i n d i t .  . We a l s o loom upon the e a r t h Over the waterways of space. Between Our b i r t h and death we may touch understanding As a moth brushes a window w i t h i t s wings, (p. 4 0 ) So t h i s purpose this  and understanding are i n a l l F r y ' s p l a y s , f o r  i s the theme about which we  break themselves  s h a l l see l i v e s make and  i n a c o n t i n u a l i n t e r p l a y of the f o r c e s of  l i f e , death and l o v e s t r i v i n g  f o r the r e s o l u t i o n of c o n f l i c t .  As the i n s i s t e n c e of the theme becomes more apparent from one p l a y t o another we w i l l f i n d t h a t the s e t t i n g i s merely t h e r e as the form behind which the theme moves. a l s o so f o r the Quaker, who  n e i t h e r understands  ledges a u t h o r i t y and law, but who it  f o r understanding.  but do not c o n s i d e r i t  It i s  nor acknow-  l o o k s t o the s p i r i t  behind  F o r example, Quakers r e v e r e the B i b l e , a d e c l a r a t i o n of f a i t h or a handbook  of r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i c e and d o c t r i n e .  Instead they f e e l i t  g i v e s evidence of the p e r s o n a l experience of o t h e r s , evidence in God  other times of t h a t p e r s o n a l appearance and r e v e l a t i o n of so e s s e n t i a l t o the meaning of t r u e f a i t h .  27 And t h e end o f words i s t o b r i n g men t o t h e knowledge o f t h i n g s beyond what words can u t t e r . So, l e a r n o f t h e L o r d t o make a r i g h t use o f t h e S c r i p t u r e s : w h i c h i s by esteeming them i n t h e i r p l a c e , and p r i z i n g t h a t above them w h i c h i s above them.9 What CuthmanlPs l i f e says i n The  Boy With A C a r t i s t h a t  t h i s w o r l d i s God's w o r l d and we know him t h r o u g h h e r e i s c o o p e r a t i o n w i t h God power, though we may  and we  it.  Life  cannot l i v e w i t h o u t h i s  not always acknowledge i t .  This play  s a y s of t h e m y s t e r y of e x i s t e n c e what a l l P r y ' s p l a y s s t a t e . The  o n l y d i f f e r e n c e i s t h a t Cuthman's v i s i o n sees God  every-  where i n c r e a t i o n , w h i l e t h e o t h e r p l a y s , on t h e whole, a r e concerned w i t h t h e same v i s i o n , w i t h o u t a t t r i b u t i n g i t d i r e c t l y t o t h e C h r i s t i a n concept o f God. "even t h o s e  In a l l t h e p l a y s  [ c h a r a c t e r s ] w i t h no i n s i g h t i n t o t h e m y s t e r y  a r e t r u e c h i l d r e n o f l i f e , d i f f e r i n g from t h e h e r o e s o n l y i n t h e i r l a c k o f perception. ~~® n  A PHOENIX TOO The  FREQUENT  e s s e n t i a l f e a t u r e o f any Quaker t e s t i m o n y has a l -  ways been a profound tic  b e l i e f i n t h e i n d i v i d u a l as t h e authen-  p i v o t of e x i s t e n c e , and i n h i s s e n s i t i v i t y t o t h e awesome^  m y s t e r i o u s , and wondrous.  The  c l o s e n e s s o f t h i s concern f o r  l i f e and harmony t o t h e concerns o f l i f e i n t h i s p l a y f i n d o  C h r i s t i a n F a i t h and P r a c t i c e i n t h e E x p e r i e n c e of t h e S o c i e t y o f F r i e n d s (London: Headley B r o t h e r s , 1 9 6 3 ) , s e c t i o n 204. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s t o t h i s book w i l l be t o C h r i s t i a n F a i t h and t o t h e paragraph number. E m i l Roy. "The Becket P l a y s , " Modern Drama, V I I I , i i i (December, 1 9 6 5 ) , 270. 1 Q  28 their it  origin  i n the  initial  were, a statement  sentiments lived  towards a v i s i o n  t o the uttermost.  philosophy  they  The  x x  c h o o s e between l i f e  Virilius is  conflicts  moving a g a i n  faced with  challenge with  the  i n the  freely,  Shendi the  his rejection  not  Dynamene i s  confrontation compelled  to  death,  only to f i n d  t h a t when  they  r e c o n c i l e d i n the  i n the world.  Only i n the Jew.  Tegeus c o r r o b o r a t e s beginning"  of f a t e ,  of I s r a e l  and  f o r that i s  c h o i c e d o e s he  i s the  of  H i s f r e e d o m comes w i t h  Only i n the  o f Egypt  presence  S h e n d i i n The F i r s t b o r n  situation.  that h i s choice  death from the  the  f r e e d o m , and  c o n f r o n t a t i o n of a choice  bondage.  die."  In t h i s  p r o m o t i o n t h a t Rameses s e c u r e s ,  g r a v e and  e s s e n t i a l part of  and  are  a similar  another  that  and  anemic  full-blooded l i f e  C h r o m i s and  another.  choice  p l a y i s , as  choose; p e r s u a s i o n ,  dilemma o f b o t h  are faced with  choose the  o f c r e a t i o n and  "Freedom i s an  c o n f r o n t a t i o n o f one  The  progression of d i s j o i n t e d ,  of F r i e n d s , freedom t o  compulsion." their  of the  circumstances.  choice  a  not  just  become h i m s e l f does he  f e a r of being l e a v e s him  realise  sent  to  the  "only f r e e to  h i s " T h i s wasn't a w o r l d .  It  was  with—  At t h e b e s t we l i v e o u r l i v e s on l o a n , At t h e w o r s t i n c h a i n s . And I was n e v e r b o r n To h a v e l i f e . Then f o r what? To be had by i t , And so a r e we a l l . 1 2 The Q u a k e r R e a d e r , Jessamyn West, ed. (New Y o r k : V i k i n g , 1 9 6 2 ) , p. 506. 12 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , A P h o e n i x Too F r e q u e n t (London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s I 9 6 0 ) , p. 39. A l l f u r t h e r quotes f r o m t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n t h e t e x t . ?  2 9  But  e a r l i e r Tegeus suggested a p o s s i b l e answer.  "Then that  may be l i f e ' s r e a s o n , " says he, when Dynamene r u e f u l l y dec l a r e s t h a t she sees l i f e  l e a d i n g "one way or another, t o  death." (p. 25) The p l a y i s a comedy about a Roman s o l d i e r who, though not  very e n t h u s i a s t i c about l i f e ,  f a l l s i n l o v e w i t h a widow  who i s t r y i n g t o s t a r v e t o death i n her husband's tomb so she can j o i n him.  Tegeus Chromis, the s o l d i e r , f a c e s the  prospect o f a c o u r t - m a r t i a l f o r l o s i n g one o f the bodies he i s supposed t o be guarding.  But w i t h Dynamene's a s s i s t a n c e  he evades r e p l a c i n g t h e body h i m s e l f by s u b s t i t u t i n g t h e body o f h e r dead husband, V i r i l i u s . ing  The g r a v i t y o f the hang-  bodies and the presence o f death and l i v e s s e t on a  course f o r immediate death a r e i n e x t r i c a b l y the agents o f potential l i f e ,  death and l o v e very much at c o n f l i c t i n the  circumstances.  Here i s no sense o f harmony, but one o f l i f e  at  odds w i t h i t s e l f .  There i s Doto, the maid, "dying t o be  dead," because "death's a new i n t e r e s t i n l i f e , " who i s 'making arrangements t o j o i n her husband  Dynamene,  . . . i n the  Underworld," and Tegeus, whose answer t o a l a d y dying f o r l o v e i s "Not c u r i o u s ; / I ' v e had thoughts l i k e i t . a k i n d o f l o v e . " (p. 8)  Death i s  But h i s boredom and d e j e c t i o n are  so  k i n d l e d by Dynamene's "human f i d e l i t y "  that he sees i t  as  "the c l e a r f a s h i o n / F o r a l l s o u l s . " (p. 1 2 )  30  And the w o r l d i s a good c r e a t u r e a g a i n . I'd begun t o see i t as mildew, v e r d i g r i s , R u s t , woodrot, or as though t h e sky had u t t e r e d An o v a l t w i r l i n g blasphemy w i t h o c c a s i o n a l v i s t a s In country d i s t r i c t s . I was w i t h i n an ace Of v o l u n t e e r i n g f o r o v e r s e a s s e r v i c e . . . . (p. 12) The  p l a y works towards harmony and t h e r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of t h e  i n d i v i d u a l t o l i f e through the mediation  of l o v e .  C a l l me Death i n s t e a d of Chromis. I ' l l answer t o a n y t h i n g . I t ' s d e s i r e a l l t h e same, o f death i n me, or me I n d e a t h , but Chromis e i t h e r way. . . . (p. 30) A l s o i n t h e r e s p e c t f o r l i f e , t h a t cannot see t h e  justifica-  t i o n f o r any law t h a t c o n t r a d i c t s i t . Your l i f e i s y o u r s , It's  Chromis.  a l l unreasonable .  How can t h e y hang you f o r s i m p l y not b e i n g somewhere? How can t h e y hang you f o r l o s i n g a dead man? They must have wanted t o l o s e him, or t h e y wouldn't Have hanged him (pp. 39 and 4 0 ) This i s a respect that includes t h e i r love. Who are t h e y who t h i n k t h e y can d i s c i p l i n e s o u l s R i g h t o f f t h e e a r t h ? What d i s c i p l i n e i s t h a t ? Chromis, l o v e i s t h e o n l y d i s c i p l i n e And we're t h e d i s c i p l e s of l o v e . I h o l d you t o t h a t : (pp. 41-42) The  p h y s i c a l a c t i o n i s l i m i t e d , confined to  round t h e tomb w i t h t h e e n t r a n c e s and  pacing  e x i t s o f Tegeus and  Doto being t r i g g e r s t o t h e d i a l o g u e of c o n f l i c t i n g  forces  and d e s i r e s .  the  prospects  For example, Chromis' r e - e n t r y t u r n s  of new  found l o v e and l i f e f o r h i m s e l f and Dynamene  back t o death as a r e a l i t y . I s h a l l take the place of the missing man. To be hanged Dynamene.' Hanged Dynamene.' (p. 3 9 )  31 The  corpses s i g n i f y death as they hang About a t the corner of t h e n i g h t . . . present And absent, h o r r i b l y obsequious t o every Move i n t h e a i r , . . . (p. 11)  T h e i r l o s s means death t o Tegeus'new l i f e i n l o v e . I t ' s s e c t i o n s i x , paragraph Three i n t h e R e g u l a t i o n s . That's my doom. (p. 4 0 ) But t h i s new l o v e demands that he l i v e . the tomb and been confronted  He has walked i n t o  with a state of a f f a i r s , " a  v i s i o n , a hope, a promise" o f " l o y a l t y , enduring  passion,/  Unrecking bravery and beauty a l l i n one." (p. 12)  He has  even savoured the f u l l n e s s o f t h a t new s t a t e o f being. I f e e l as t h e gods f e e l : T h i s i s t h e i r s e n s a t i o n o f l i f e , not a man's: T h e i r suspension o f i m m o r t a l i t y , t o e n r i c h Themselves w i t h time. . . . (p. 32) Dynamene seeks death f o r l o v e .  But she i s g r a d u a l l y  p u l l e d by t h e l o v e o f l i f e and l i v i n g l o v e f o r Tegeus away from t h i s wish. Stop, s t o p , I s h a l l be dragged apart I its terrible To be s u s c e p t i b l e t o two c o n f l i c t i n g norths,  (p. 31)  until 0 all In myself; i t so covets a l l i n you, M$r c a r e , my Chromis. Then I s h a l l be C r e a t i o n , (p. 32)  The  s a c r i f i c e of her husband's body, p h y s i c a l symbol of what  is left  o f dead l o v e , i s made so t h a t t h e l i v i n g l o v e may  continue and f u l f i l t h e demands o f l i f e f o r them both.  32  I loved H i s l i f e not h i s death. And now we can g i v e h i s death The power of l i f e . Not h o r r i b l e : wonderful! I s n ' t i t so? That I should be a b l e t o f e e l He moves a g a i n i n the w o r l d , accomplishing Our w e l f a r e ? I t ' s more than my g r i e f could do. (p. 4 3 ) "In the experience  (the c h a r a c t e r s )  every c o n d i t i o n of  (the) . . . animal: a g a i n s t death, a g a i n s t  the f r u s t r a t i o n of ambition,  . . . strive  against  a g a i n s t the i n s t a b i l i t y of human  13 love." ^ spirit Tegeus  T h i s i s the i n t u i t i o n of F r y ' s comedy, and  the  of V i r i l i u s moves again i n the act of r e c o n c i l i n g 1  l i f e t o the m i l i t a r y law.  The  i n s i s t e n c e of l i f e i n  t h i s p l a y i s so v i g o r o u s t h a t i t sways i n d i v i d u a l w i l l Dynamene's b e h a l f and b r i n g s the triumph of l i f e to  romantically  an i n d i v i d u a l , Tegeus, at odds with h i m s e l f , and with h i s  l i f e h e l d i n a balance  by a m i l i t a r y r e g u l a t i o n .  and the mystery c o u l d f i n d the redemption of an and  on  such a joyous union  of bodies  so r o m a n t i c a l l y .  i s both d e s i s e d and  Only  life  individual  The gruesome switch  j u s t i f i e d by s e n t i m e n t a l  love,  spontaneous d e s i r e , a n a i v e l y d i r e c t and moving r e s p e c t f o r l i f e and an almost f a n t a s y - l i k e a p p r e c i a t i o n and v i s i o n a r y p e r c e p t i o n of e x i s t e n c e b u r s t i n g with l i f e .  This i s a l l  part of the s p i r i t u a l c l i m a t e of pagan joy i n l i f e i n the play.  iii  ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Comedy," Tulane Drama Review, IV, (March, I960), 78.  33  THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING The c o n f l i c t s and estrangements  of l i f e t o i t s e l f  that  were p r e s e n t i n A Phoenix Too Frequent a r e a l s o p r e s e n t i n t h i s play.  The i n i t i a l  c i r c u m s t a n c e s o f t h e f a r from h e a l t h y  Thomas Mendip and h i s j a u n d i c e d v i e w s on humanity prompted by t h e e v i l s o f war, s e t t h e s t a g e f o r a s i m i l a r s t o r y o f l i f e out o f key w i t h c r e a t i o n .  L i f e i n Thomas needs t o c o r r e c t  i t s e l f and i t proceeds t o do so i n a way t h a t i s amongst other t h i n g s Quakerly.  Jennet Jourdemayne and he come t o -  g e t h e r d e s p i t e t h e m s e l v e s , and because o f t h e i r v e r y c o n t r a r i ness.  Through h i s a t t e m p t s t o defend h i s views a g a i n s t t h e  c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of Jennet, they are a c t u a l l y searching together and e n l a r g i n g t h e k e r n e l o f t h e i r own e x p e r i e n c e o f both death and l i f e i n t h e i r f a m i l i a r i t y w i t h one a n o t h e r , and i n t h e r e c o n c i l i a t i o n o f t h e m s e l v e s , n o t as c o n t r a d i c t i o n s o f l i f e or d e a t h , but as complementary t o one a n o t h e r and p a r t o f c r e a t i o n j u s t by v i r t u e o f l i f e w i t h i n them. However, t h e r e i s something  else that contributes t o  t h e p a r a d o x i c a l e x i s t e n c e o f t h e s e two c r e a t u r e s .  In a  Quaker way o f l i f e t h e c e n t r a l i s s u e s seem t o ari':se from t h e i n s p i r a t i o n s and u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e meaning b e h i n d any conc r e t e l a w , f o r m , o r o r d e r o f t h i n g s ; from t h a t s p i r i t and l i f e w i t h i n any c r e a t u r e , t h a t causes i t t o be what i t i s , to  do what i t does, and be no d i f f e r e n t from any o t h e r name-  l e s s t h i n g t h a n t h e d i f f e r e n c e i t s own form e x p r e s s e s .  34 Experience ing  i s t h e p r o c e s s whereby t h e s p i r i t , l i f e and mean-  behind c o n c r e t e t h i n g s , i s a p p r e c i a t e d .  t h e method o f p e r c e p t i o n .  And c o n s c i e n c e  Intuition i s  i s t h e remembrance  o f t h e elements o f i t s e l f t h a t l i f e acknowledges, such as the respect f o r i t s e l f i n the claims of the i n d i v i d u a l f o r his  own  r i g h t s and t h e c l a i m s o f t h e r i g h t t o l i v e ,  the  r e c o n c i l i a t i o n o f l i f e t o i t s e l f i n the p e a c e f u l c o e x i s t e n c e o f l i v e s t o g e t h e r , t h e harmony o f l i f e and t h e l i v i n g , e q u a l i t y o f a l l l i f e i n t h e s e a r c h f o r harmony, and place of i n d i v i d u a l l i f e i n c r e a t i o n .  L i f e i s the  the  the central  i d e a i n F r y ' s p l a y s and Mandel comments f u r t h e r on t h i s i n "Theme i n t h e Drama of C h r i s t o p h e r F r y " when he remarks t h a t , "life its  j u s t i f i e s i t s e l f and i t i s what i t i s and i t s b e i n g i s  a s s e r t i o n ; " " i t seeks i t s own  perseverance,  and,  almost  l i k e a god t a k e s p o s s e s s i o n o f us even as we deny i t — i n v e r y f a c t o f denying was  the  i t . " ^ The r e l e v a n c e o f t h e s e p o i n t s  c e r t a i n l y v a l i d i n A P h o e n i x Too Frequent.  But here i n  The Lady's Not For B u r n i n g i t i s o f p e c u l i a r s i g n i f i c a n c e s i n c e t h e p l a y r e v o l v e s around t h e c o n t r a d i c t i o n o f Thomas' vigorous d e n i a l s of l i f e . Jennet escapes b u r n i n g over n i g h t i n t h e company of a war-sickened to  be hanged.  c a p t a i n , who  so d e s p a i r s o f l i f e t h a t he d e s i r e s  35 I've been u n i d e n t i f i a b l y F l o u n d e r i n g i n F l a n d e r s f o r t h e past seven y e a r s , P r i s i n g open r i b s t o l e t men go On t h e i n d e f i n i t e l e a v e which needs no p a s s . And now a l l roads are uncommonly f l a t , and a l l h a i r Stands on end.15 But Thomas sees l i f e h o l d l o v e as a t h r e a t t o t h i s w i s h i n s p i t e of h i s a p p r e c i a t i o n s and f a m i l i a r i t i e s w i t h d e a t h — "For God's sake hang.: me,  b e f o r e I l o v e t h a t woman I " (p.  35)  Jennet i s t o be burned " B e f o r e she d i s t u r b s our r e a s o n , " says Hebbie Tyson, t h e mayor, (p. 72)  Thomas i s found  guilty Of j a u n d i c e , m i s a n t h r o p y , s u i c i d a l t e n d e n c i e s And s p r e a d i n g gloom and despondency . . , (p. for  61)  which he " w i l l spend/The evening j o y o u s l y , s o c i a b l y ,  t a k i n g p a r t / I n t h e p l e a s u r e s o f " h i s f e l l o w men.  (p. 6l)  These c i r c u m s t a n c e s c a r r y f a r l e s s weight t h a n t h e c o n f l i c t of w i l l s and t h e antagonism and l o v e .  "Why  of t h e f o r c e s o f l i f e and  death  s h o u l d you want t o be hanged?" says J e n n e t ,  and she adds t o t h e c o n t r a d i c t i o n s a l r e a d y a t p l a y when she declares I'm an unhappy f a c t F e a r i n g d e a t h . T h i s i s a s t r a n g e moment To f e e l my l i f e i n c r e a s i n g , when t h i s moment And a l i t t l e more may be f o r both o f us The end o f t i m e . You've c a s t y o u r f i s h i n g net Of e c c e n t r i c i t y , y o u r s e i n e o f i n s a n i t y Caught me when I was a l r e a d y l o s t And l a n d e d me w i t h d e s p a i r i n g g i l l s on your own Strange beach. . . . (p. 56) ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , The Lady's Not For B u r n i n g (London: O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1963), p. 20. A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n t h e t e x t .  36 Thomas'), o n l y r e t a l i a t i o n i s f u r t h e r r a n t about h i s c r i m e s and a s s o c i a t i o n s w i t h t h e d e v i l And R i c h a r d Make t h i s woman u n d e r s t a n d t h a t I Am a f i g u r e o f v i c e and c r i m e — (p. 58) Thomas, t h e " b l a c k and f r o s t e d rosebud whom t h e good God/ Has p r e s e r v e d s i n c e l a s t O c t o b e r " no l o n g e r nods i n a t t h e window, but becomes more i n v o l v e d i n d e f e n s i v e d e n i a l s t h a n i n doing a n y t h i n g about h i s l o n g i n g f o r death. for  life.  Jennet l o n g s  The r e c o n c i l i a t i o n o f t h e s i t u a t i o n and t h e s e  w i s h e s i s a c h i e v e d i n t h e end. Thomas' pessimism i s s t i r r e d by l i f e  s t r a i n i n g i n J e n n e t , so t h a t l o v e and new v i g o u r  c o l o u r t h e w i n t e r w o r l d o f h i s disenchantment. G i r l , you haven't changed t h e w o r l d . Glimmer as y o u w i l l , t h e w o r l d ' s n o t changed. I l o v e y o u , but t h e w o r l d ' s n o t changed. . . . (p. 96) I know my l i m i t a t i o n s . When t h e landscape goes t o s e e d , t h e wind i s obsessed By to-morrow, ( p . 97) Fry s a i d of t h i s play, I c o u l d see no r e a s o n why I s h o u l d n o t t r e a t t h e w o r l d as I see i t , a w o r l d i n w h i c h we a r e a l l p o i s e d on t h e edge o f e t e r n i t y , a w o r l d which has deeps and shadows o f m y s t e r y , i n w h i c h God i s a n y t h i n g but a s l e e p i n g partner.16 Thomas acknowledges such a w o r l d and r e c o n c i l e s h i m s e l f t o i t " f o r t h e sake o f f i v e - f o o t s i x o f wavering  l i g h t . " (p. 89)  The w o r l d does n o t become a good c r e a t u r e a g a i n , but Jennet shows t h a t i t i s n o t a l l bad e i t h e r , o n l y m y s t e r i o u s .  Fry,"  Thomas  Derek S t a n f o r d , "Comedy and Tragedy i n C h r i s t o p h e r Modern Drama, I I , i (May, 1 9 5 9 ) , 4.  37  does not understand the depths and that h i s gesture  shadows, but he  realises  of death i s not going t o change i t , and  accepts the f a c t t h a t he cannot deny s e e i n g l i f e home "though n e i t h e r of us/Knows where on earth i t i s . " (p. 9 7 ) The  p l a y r e v o l v e s around Thomas Mendip and a c t s  out w i t h i n the t u r b u l e n t s p r i n g t i m e  s e t t i n g of the  sance, w i t h i t s witch-hunt and an e x t r a o r d i n a r y t i o n of medieval knowledge and a l l u s i o n s . and  shadows t h a t p l a y a c r o s s Thomas and  itself  Renais-  prolifera-  But the depths  Jennet at the  end  l e a v e them hanging on the verge of a v i s i o n of t h a t mystery t h a t the c h a p l a i n l i v e s i n throughout the  play.  I know I am not A p r a c t i c a l person; l e g a l matters and so f o r t h Are Greek t o me, except, of course, That I understand Greek. And what may seem n o n s e n s i c a l To men of a f f a i r s l i k e y o u r s e l v e s might not seem so To me, s i n c e e v e r y t h i n g a s t o n i s h e s me, Myself most of a l l . When I t h i n k of myself I can s c a r c e l y b e l i e v e my senses. But t h e r e i t i s , A l l my f r i e n d s t e l l me I a c t u a l l y e x i s t And It  by an a c t of f a i t h I have come t o b e l i e v e them. (p.  i s a f a c u l t y t h a t seems t o l e a v e him  41)  perpetually face to !  f a c e w i t h paradox i n l i f e , which has such D i v e r s i t y , I sometimes remarkably l o s e E t e r n i t y i n the passing moment. . . . (p. It  shows him  Thomas who  i s t h a t he wishes he was  3D  "on the c o n t r a r y , i s so convinced/He NOT."  (p. 41)  The  c h a p l a i n ' s remark  about a dream he has, t h a t "Nothing/Is a l t o g e t h e r what isre suppose i t t o be" i s perhaps a mute r e f l e c t i o n on Thomas' condition.  38 VENUS OBSERVED The  Quakers a r e one o f those few r e l i g i o u s  s e c t s w i t h i n t h e C h r i s t i a n t r a d i t i o n t h a t came i n t o  being  through a d i r e c t experience  behind  of the s p i r i t that l i e s  a l l f o r m a l b e l i e f s and r e l i g i o u s d o c t r i n e s .  The whole p o i n t  o f t h e Quaker way o f l i f e t o d a y s t i l l r e s t s on t h i s p r i n c i p l e of i n d i v i d u a l revelation  and d i r e c t c o n t a c t w i t h t h a t  o f l i f e i n everyone t h r o u g h t h e means o f p e r s o n a l e n l i g h t e n e d by i n t u i t i o n .  experience  The i d e a o f a r e v i v a l o f s p i r i t ,  of l i f e behind form and o r d e r , whether i n t h e h i s t o r i c manif e s t a t i o n and o r i g i n a t i o n o f a r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i c e ,  or the  p e r s o n a l e n l i g h t e n m e n t o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l m y s t i c and v i s i o n a r y , i s one o f l i f e w i t h i n l i f e , o r an i n f i n i t e l i f e behind  e x t e r n a l f o r m , opening out i n t o  v i s t a of  creation.  F r y ' s p l a y s demonstrate a s i m i l a r s p i r i t u a l  triumph,  namely, t h e appearance o f l i f e and b e i n g behind t h e c o n f l i c t s and f o r c e s o f human l a w , an o r d e r e d w o r l d , and f o r m a l e x i s t ence. triumph  F o r i n s t a n c e i n .A P h o e n i x Too Frequent l i f e ' s  purposes  and new l i f e and l o v e b u r s t f o r t h from t h e c o n f l i c t s  of t h e s i t u a t i o n .  There a r e w i d e r forms o f l i f e , and g r e a t e r  m y s t e r i e s t o be p e r c e i v e d behind t h e p a r t i c u l a r t u r n s o f experience  t h a t i n v o l v e Dynamene and Chromis i n t h e f i g h t  a g a i n s t l i f e t o d i e , t h a n i n t h e f i g h t a g a i n s t death t o l i v e , or t h e o v e r a l l s t r u g g l e o f i n d i v i d u a l w i l l a g a i n s t f o r c e s outside i t s e l f .  L i f e i s t r y i n g t o break t h r o u g h i n new  39 freedom and i t does, because F r y ' s comic s p i r i t ,  intuition,  r i s e s above t h e s i t u a t i o n t o r e f l e c t on i t and a l l follows.  that  The n i g h t i s passed, they come away from the p i t  Chromis n e a r l y dropped them i n , and the t o a s t i s t o t h e new morning and both t h e masters--the dead who now moves again i n the l i v i n g . The same t h i n g happens  i n The Lady's Not For Burning  i n a d i f f e r e n t and perhaps more immediate way through Thomas' v e r y d e n i a l o f any other i d e a o f l i f e . of  war t h a t encompassed  could f i l t e r  H i s hate o f the e v i l s  him shut h i s eyes t o any l i g h t  i n when he d e s e r t e d t h e scene.  that  But they g r a d -  u a l l y open on l o v e and a l i f e t h a t i s not on t h e b a t t l e f i e l d . Love b r i n g s i n t u i t i o n which r a i s e s him above h i m s e l f t o see many other a s p e c t s of l i f e , c o n t r a d i c t e d war and death.  e s p e c i a l l y Jennet, the one t h a t L i k e Tegeus and Dynamene, Thomas  and Jennet are l e f t w i s h i n g a good morning t o each other and the  dawning  o f a new day i n t h e i r l i v e s .  I n t u i t i o n has  shown Thomas t h a t l i f e i s n e i t h e r one experience o r another, and the response t h a t the mystery encourages i s the promise of  itself—to In  see l i f e home though he knows not where.  Venus Observed t h e appearance o f l i f e and a system  behind c o n f l i c t ferent.  i s a l s o p r e s e n t , but i t i s s t r i k i n g l y  dif-  The Duke i s the complete o p p o s i t e o f Thomas Mendip.  Where Thomas saw l i f e ' s i m p e r f e c t i o n s and was taught t o l o v e and l i v e , A l t a i r sees no i m p e r f e c t i o n s .  There i s always  something g r e a t e r and more meaningful beyond the immediacy o f  40 an e x p e r i e n c e , even i f i t i s o n l y the mind as the r e c e p t a c l e of  many experiences over a p e r i o d of time.  Fry c a l l s the  p e r c e p t i o n of meaning behind form and l i f e behind i n t u i t i o n of the mystery and the essence  experience,  of the comic  spirit,  w h i l e Quakers see the p e r c e p t i o n of t h i s s p i r i t as the t r u e a p p r e c i a t i o n of l i f e and the process of continuous of  the conscience or understanding.  However, the Duke only  sees l o v e and l i f e , r e n d e r i n g them immortal not see beyond.  education  because he does  The d i s t o r t e d p e r s p e c t i v e he has of h i s  age i s of immortal  l o v e , not m o r t a l  own  man.  Am I , b e f o r e God, too old? Consider the rocks Of A r i z o n a , and then c o n s i d e r me. How r e c e n t l y the world has had the p l e a s u r e Of p l e a s i n g , the o p p o r t u n i t y of knowing me. Age, a f t e r a l l , i s o n l y the accumulation Of e x t e n s i v e c h i l d h o o d : what we were, Never what we a r e . . . .17 The d e s i r e t o l i v e and l o v e i s of l i f e e t e r n a l , but man  is  m o r t a l and t h a t i s nature's i m p e r f e c t i o n , and the r e v e l a t i o n the Duke must p e r c e i v e .  As w i t h Thomas i n t u i t i o n r a i s e s the  Duke above experience and l e a v e s him w i t h the prospect of s e e i n g l i f e home t o wherever i t may  lead.  In other words  the process i s the same even though the form i t takes i s d i f f e r e n t from the p r e v i o u s two  plays.  That the Duke's i n -  t u i t i o n c o n t r a d i c t s Thomas Mendip's serves merely t o r e i t e r a t e 17 'Christopher F r y , Venus. Observed (London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 5 7 ) , p. 67. A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n the t e x t .  41  the f a c t t h a t t h e r e i s no answer, only other and t h e hope o f f u r t h e r i n t u i t i o n .  experiences  I t also intimates that  though i n t u i t i o n and s p i r i t may be o f l i f e and immortal, the form and the experience change and are m o r t a l . The  o l d Duke and young Perpetua a r e almost  by one o f h i s e x - m i s t r e s s e s .  roasted  The Duke i n l o v e w i t h  life  does not see i t s n a t u r a l i m p e r f e c t i o n s — a g e , death, m u t a b i l ity  and the shortcomings  of m o r t a l l o v e .  Unwillingly re-  s i g n i n g h i m s e l f t o a faded memory chosen by h i s son, he r e b e l s at t h e s i g h t o f Perpetua, the v i s i o n of youth. c o n f l i c t becomes one o f youth and age, son and f a t h e r . I never t o move?" says the Duke, and Edgar's  The "Am  r e p l y i s , "Oh,  y e s , f a t h e r , but the o t h e r , or any way/Except between me and where I aim." (p. 50) for  Perpetua,  (p.  50)  The contest i s on between them  "or so my h a c k l e s t e l l r me," Edgar d e c l a r e s ,  The burning of the observatory i n t e n s i f i e s the  emotions and c l a r i f i e s the s i t u a t i o n , f o r a f t e r i t Perpetua sees t h a t her f e e l i n g s were o f f e a r — found t h a t f e a r c o u l d seem L i k e l o v e t o a s i l l y g i r l , who now knows I t was f e a r and not l o v e . . . . (p. 88) All  t h a t remains o f the o b s e r v a t o r y through which the Duke  t r i e d t o r e c l a i m the past w i t h Perpetua smouldering  memory."  i s "the s m e l l o f  Rosabel had l o v e d t h e D u k e —  Nothing matters Except t h a t he should be made t o f e e l . He h u r t s Whoever he touches. He has t o be touched by f i r e To make a human o f him, and o n l y a woman Who l o v e s him can dare t o do i t . (p. 57)  42  I f i r e d the wing, To d e s t r o y t h e o b s e r v a t o r y , t o make you human, To b r i n g y o u down t o be among t h e r e s t o f us To make y o u u n d e r s t a n d t h e savage sorrows That go on below you. . . . (p. 80) But i t was a l o v e beyond h e r s t r e n g t h , o r so i t seemed. Today, t h i s a w f u l day The v i o l e n c e o f a l o n g unhappiness r o c k e d And f e l l , and b u r i e d me under i t s e l f a t l a s t . (p. 80) Edgar f i n d s h i s "memory i s f o r n o t h i n g e l s e " but P e r p e t u a . Over and over a g a i n I see y o u f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e . I round Some c o r n e r o f my s e n s e s , and t h e r e , as though The a i r had formed y o u out o f a sudden t h o u g h t , I d i s c o v e r e d you. . . . (p. 95) The Duke i s l e f t l o o k i n g t o t h e autumn o f h i s age and t h e ever c l o s e r w i n t e r o f l i f e . I n m o r t a l i t y ' s name I ' l l be s o r r y f o r m y s e l f . Branches and boughs, Brown h i l l s , t h e v a l l e y s f a i n t w i t h brume, A b u r n i s h on t h e l a k e ; m i l e by m i l e I t s a l l a unison of ageing, The l a n d s c a p e ' s a l l i n t u n e , i n a f a l l i n g cadence, A l l decaying. And nowhere does i t have t o h e a r The g r i p s o f s p r i n g , o r , when so n e a r i n g i t s end, Have t o bear t h e merry m i r t h o f May. (p. 97) T h i s i s t h e epitome o f F r y ' s sense o f s e a s o n a l drama, where theme and p a t t e r n o f i d e a s a r e a l l one mood and atmosphere. The Duke has r e t u r n e d t o t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f c r e a t i o n , but he does n o t s t o p t h e r e , f o r t h e p a t t e r n o f l i f e i s r e v e a l e d t o him i n a v i s i o n o f o l d age. I n t h e name o f e x i s t e n c e I ' l l be happy f o r m y s e l f . Why . . . how m a r v e l l o u s i t i s t o moulder, (p. 98)  43 i m a g i n e ; t o have t h e s e n s a t i o n Of nearness o f s i g h t , s h o r t n e s s o f b r e a t h , P a l p i t a t i o n , creaking i n the j o i n t s , A sudden i l l u m i n a t i o n o f lumbago. What a r i c h w o r l d o f s e n s a t i o n t o a c h i e v e What i n f i n i t e v a r i e t y o f b e i n g , (pp. 9$-99) And t h e v i s i o n a l l o w s him t o l o v e a g a i n : a l o v e t h a t belongs riot t o y o u t h o r t h e p a s t , but t o t h e p r e s e n t , though i t comes out o f t h e p a s t . I can s t i l l remember I n my ebbing way, how p l e a s a n t i t i s t o l o v e ; An a n c i e n t l o v e can blow a g a i n , l i k e summer V i s i t i n g St. Martin. . . . I marry R o s a b e l , when R o s a b e l ( A f t e r s i x months, I u n d e r s t a n d ) I s disengaged from custody, (p. 99) She and I , s h a r i n g two s o l i t u d e s W i l l bear our s p i r i t s up t o where not even The n i g h t i n g a l e can know, Where t h e song i s q u i e t , and q u i e t I s t h e song. . . . (p. 99) I t i s as though t h i s i s a window opening on t h e w o r l d . b e l ' s attempt t o make t h e Duke f e e l i s a c c o m p l i s h e d .  RosaAnd t h e  v i s i o n i s one H i l d a has a l s o s e e n , and h e r e x p l a n a t i o n o f i t comes a t t h e Duke's i n q u i r y a f t e r t h e h e a l t h o f h e r i n j u r e d husband. He i s Roderic-phenomenon, R o d e r i c o n l y , and a t t h e p r e s e n t R o d e r i c i n p a i n . . . . This afternoon I made a cockshy o f h i m , but t h i s a f t e r n o o n I c o u l d no more see him t h a n he, poor d a r l i n g , Can t r u l y see h a l f t h a t t h e r e i s t o s e e . (p. 92) J u s t as Thomas Mendip " t u c k e d up f o r t h e n i g h t o f e t e r n i t y " was prodded u n b e l i e v i n g l y i n t o s p r i n g and new l i f e  after  b i t t e r w i n t e r , so t h e Duke moves i n t o autumn and mellow l o v e ,  44 at  first  r e l u c t a n t l y , but j u s t as i n e x o r a b l y .  on.  The  Duke was  life  j u s t because the form i t took had  circumstances experience  L i f e moves  j u s t as wrong as Thomas t o deny t h i s  new  changed season.  But  marched on, t a k i n g them both along through the  of l o v e t o an i n t u i t i o n of some other presence  l y i n g behind  the immediate, some p r i n c i p l e of  non-interference  s u b j e c t t o the same laws. THE  DARK IS LIGHT ENOUGH The  scene and time of the comedies d e a l t with so f a r  i s l o c a t e d q u i t e s p e c i f i c a l l y , yet with c o n s i d e r a b l e  apprecia-  t i o n f o r r e a l i s m i n the g e n e r a l p a t t e r n s of commonplace l i v i n g and human emotions t o o .  However, a l s o present  i s a very  close  u n i t y of mood and  season of l i f e w i t h i n the o v e r a l l framework.  The  of t h i s mood makes the s e t t i n g  pervasiveness  as f a r as any  sense of dramatic  irrelevant  time or p l a c e i s concerned.  In terms of the atmosphere they are i n c o n s e q u e n t i a l because s i m i l a r c o n f l i c t s and f o r c e s are present whether i t i s Ephesus in  Roman times, Cool C l a r y "1400  e x a c t l y " ; or ;§tellmere Park, now. iousness and  e i t h e r more or l e s s or There i s a sense of myster-  of the depths and shadows of c r e a t i o n l y i n g  w i t h i n the s p e c i f i c l o c a l e of each p l a y as w e l l as the sense of c l i m a t i c r e l e v a n c e t o the l i f e  cycle.  play's  T h i s season  of each p l a y g i v e s i t a u n i t y i n which the scene, season, c h a r a c t e r s , and a c t i o n are bound t o g e t h e r or mood.  The  i n the one  p a t t e r n of ideas t h a t i s formed i s of  climate conflicts  45 between c h a r a c t e r , a c t i o n , and t h e p l a y ' s mood, w i t h t h e f i n a l i n s i s t e n c e o f t h e mood on u n i t y i n a s i t u a t i o n t h a t resolves these c o n f l i c t s — a s i t u a t i o n that i s often paradoxical. In r e g a r d t o t h e u n i t y o f F r y ' s p l a y s as a w h o l e , t h i s c o n s i s t e n c y i n t h e mood i s evidence o f a more s p e c i f i c i n t h e comedies.  centre  The season and mood a t t h e c e n t r e o f each  p l a y a l s o e s t a b l i s h e s t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p as seasons o f one y e a r , as phases o f t h e same t h o u g h t . Enough i s t h e w i n t e r p l a y .  The Dark i s L i g h t  However, though t h e n a t u r e o f  t h e i d e a s apparent f o l l o w s t h e same p a t t e r n and though t h e i n t u i t i o n o r moment o f v i s i o n i s s i m i l a r , t h e  circumstances  and events assume a degree o f s e r i o u s and g r a v e immediacy not i n t h e p r e v i o u s p l a y s .  War i s s i g n i f i c a n t as a r e a l i t y  i n which a c t i o n , c h a r a c t e r , and s t a t e o f mind r e v o l v e around the c o n f l i c t s t h a t a s t a t e o f war i n d u c e s . present  Though t h e w i n t e r  i s f u r t h e r deepened by t h e death o f t h e Countess on  stage, i t i s a play i n which t h e idea o f comedy—a look t h r o u g h t h e eyes a t t h e a l t e r n a t e l y t r a g i c and comic pages o f l i f e — i s most a c u t e l y p e r c e i v e d . task of r e s t o r i n g confidence Gettner  (accomplished  The Countess' q u i e t e s t  t o the f l u t t e r i n g  Richard  by h e r death) g i v e s him t h e sudden  i n s i g h t and d e t e r m i n a t i o n  t o f a c e t h e coming army and t h e  p r o b a b i l i t y o f h i s own d e a t h .  A g a i n t h e mystery i n c r e a t i o n  and b e h i n d l i f e , becomes a momentary r e a l i t y on which t h e p l a y ends.  L i k e t h e Duke, Thomas and Tegeus, G e t t n e r i s  46 l e f t i n the moment of comic t r i u m p h — i n t u i t i o n . But i f , as with the other p l a y s , we look at the day-to-day r e a l i t y or p e r s p e c t i v e of l i f e , t h i s i n t u i t i o n presents merely vision.  I t i s a s i g n of the everyday  another  commonplaces t h a t have  i n them the m y s t e r i e s of c r e a t i o n , i f only i n t u i t i o n lift  will  us above the o r d i n a r i n e s s of experience, so t h a t we  can  p e r c e i v e them. The r e a l contest f o r the s o u l of man i s between the world of temporal v a l u e s and t h a t world whose v a l u e s are i n t r i n s i c and e t e r n a l : whether man s h a l l be the puppet of an hour, or whether he s h a l l manifest i n h i s l i f e those q u a l i t i e s which time does not c o r r u p t . W i l l the world of time become so m a t e r i a l i s t i c as t o s t i f l e the f a i n t f l i c k e r i n g s of the human s p i r i t , or w i l l i l i t become i n f u s e d with those q u a l i t i e s of beauty, t r u t h , and goodness which alone can make l i f e worthwhile?^ Whereas i n the p r e v i o u s p l a y s c h a r a c t e r s move i n and out of t h e i r c o n f l i c t s and troublesome i n t h i s play l i f t  themselves  circumstances,  through the c o n f l i c t ,  escaping i t , t o p e r c e i v e something e l s e . something e l s e i s achieved.  those  never  But, n e v e r t h e l e s s ,  Throughout the p l a y the Countess  has r i s k e d h e r s e l f and her f r i e n d s and f a m i l y not t o h e l p G e t t n e r , but t o preserve him, merely  because " l i f e has a  hope of him/Or he would never have l i v e d . " " " 1  9  Whether she i s  t e s t i f y i n g t o Quaker b e l i e f or not, the p l a y continues i n a Christian Faith, section  456.  19 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , The Dark Is L i g h t Enough (London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1954), p. 54. A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page numbers i n the text.  47  v e i n which F r i e n d s would endorse. of  How  a p p r o p r i a t e the i d e a  the p i l g r i m a g e of the b u t t e r f l y through the storm  from J.H.  (taken  Fabre by Fry) i s t o the n e u r o t i c a c t i v i t i e s  of  Gettner as he completes h i s p i l g r i m a g e t o death along a path of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n t o the l i f e he l e a d s . But the mystery i s more than t h i s . t h i n g e l s e i n l i f e transcends  i t so t h a t the w i l l t o d i e  and the w i l l t o l i v e are i r r e l e v a n t . p o i n t , h i s way him, of  and  The f o r c e of some-  Gettner reaches  shown by the Countess who  this  has gone before  "the dark i s l i g h t enough" f o r h i s sudden v i s i o n  the deeps and shadows of the mystery.  This r e a l l y i s  w i n t e r , but our experience t e l l s us t h a t i t i s summer e l s e where and t h a t s p r i n g w i l l soon come. f o r c e s of c r e a t i o n t h a t man superseded and the man creation  and  I t i s as though the  other l i f e a c t out were  h i m s e l f i n a c t i n g them out becomes  itself.  Peter Z i c h y i s , i n a sense, a c o r o l l a r y r e l e v a n t t o the meaning of l i f e P e t e r ' s experience t h a t was  i n the p l a y ' s circumstances i s the r e a l i s a t i o n of new  of  war.  meaning i n l i f e  no deeper than attempts t o mediate f o r peace.  f i n d s a c h a l l e n g e t o h i s a p p r e c i a t i o n s f o r peace t h a t has never f a c e d b e f o r e , and he  He he  fights.  I became the very p a s s i o n I opposed, and was g l a d t o I borrowed a sword out of someone's u s e l e s s hand, And as long as the f i g h t i n g l a s t e d I was, h e a r t and s o u l , the r e v o l u t i o n , (p. 59) A f t e r i t he understands peace i n a f u l l e r  sense  be.  4* Than I always was,  I'm no l e s s c o n v i n c e d t h e y ' r e d o i n g t h e m s e l v e s wrong (p. 60)  But I know i t now I n a d i f f e r e n t sense. I can t a s t e i t L i k e a f a u l t o f my own, which i s not the same F l a v o u r as t h e f a u l t of a n o t h e r man. B e s i d e s I know a l r e a d y from t o d a y ' s showing That when t h e y f a i l , I f t h e y do f a i l and head f o r d e f e a t , Being i n t h e h e a r t of t h e i r d i s a s t e r Makes i t more d i f f i c u l t t o l e a v e them. (p. 60) He r u s h e s back t o V i e n n a , not f o r t h e sake of h i s  mediations,  but t o p r e v e n t t h e e x e c u t i o n s , f o r t h e sake of l i f e t h a t and p e r s e c u t i o n always t h r e a t e n t o  war  destroy.  I was a f r a i d They'd l o s e t h e l i b e r t i e s t h e y were b e g i n n i n g t o g a i n L a t e l y ; not t h a t we s h o u l d l o s e t h e humanity We t o o k of God two thousand y e a r s ago. (p. 79) One  of t h e s e l e c t i o n s chosen by J . West i n The  Quaker  Reader u t t e r s a p r i n c i p l e i n F r i e n d s t h a t seems t o speak f o r a b e l i e f t h a t P e t e r has i n s t i n c t i v e l y f o l l o w e d , though he has not pursued i t as a c o n s c i o u s  religious practice.  F r i e n d s , t h e r e f o r e , b e l i e v e t h a t we must overcome p o v e r t y , d i s e a s e , f e a r , i n j u s t i c e and p r e j u d i c e , and t h a t t o work f o r t h e s e ends i s p a r t of t r u e r e l i g i o n . F r i e n d s b e l i e v e , i n s h o r t , t h a t r e l i g i o n i s something t h a t has t o be put i n t o p r a c t i c e . I t does not mean t h e r e p e t i t i o n of c e r t a i n a c t s or forms o f words, but r a t h e r a sense t h a t once we are s u r e t h a t we know a t l e a s t a p a r t o f God's p u r p o s e , t h e n we must do something about i t . . . .We can know what t o do because t h e r e i s something o f God i n everyone t h a t i n s p i r e s them t o aim a t t h e h i g h e s t , and urges them t o r e s p o n d t o t h e highest.20 R i c h a r d G e t t n e r , whose p o s i t i o n i s l i k e t h a t a t t r i b u t e d t o Tegeus and Shendi i n t h e s e c t i o n on A Phoenix Too i s on t h e r e c e i v i n g end of t h i s (New  Y o r k , 1962), pp.  philosophy.  506-507.  Frequent,  49 Throughout the ages men have r e c o g n i z e d c e r t a i n q u a l i t i e s as the h i g h e s t — t r u t h , i n t e g r i t y , beauty, l o v e , u n s e l f i s h n e s s and g e n e r o s i t y . We b e l i e v e t h a t these are the q u a l i t i e s of God, t h a t they have a b s o l u t e v a l i d i t y and t h a t they are bound i n the long run t o overcome e r r o r , h a t r e d , s u s p i c i o n , . u g l i n e s s , greed, s e l f i s h n e s s and the l u s t f o r power.21 Richard search  G e t t n e r "the man of God,"  of f r u s t r a t i o n , the man  . . .  in  says,  R e a l i t y i t s e l f , w i t h wonder and power, C a l l s f o r t h the sound of great s p i r i t s . And He him  mocks us w i t h a wretched human c a p a c i t y ,  answers S t e f a n ' s  with—"Unless  do you t h i n k I can know?" (p. 40)  He w i l l  die  t o o b l i g e anybody" and w i l l  and  " b e l l y - c r a w l " r a t h e r than . . ."have no l i f e  (p. 2 2 )  "not  "foot-kiss,""dust-lick" at a l l . "  When G e t t n e r acknowledges the Countess by  back t o her at the end, and  45)  query about the s e c r e t value t h a t makes  c l a i m so much i n order t o keep h i s l i f e ,  I l i v e , how  (p.  i t i s evidence of the  turning  truthfulness  v a l i d i t y of a philosophy which d e c l a r e s t h a t -Everyone has the power t o r e f u s e ; f r e e w i l l i s an e s s e n t i a l p a r t of c r e a t i o n ; but i n h i s heart a man knows t h a t good i s r i g h t and e v i l i s wrong i n such a p o s i t i v e and c e r t a i n way t h a t no c o n t r a d i c t i o n i s possible.22 T h i s Quaker p r i n c i p l e i s the l o v e without evidence t h a t  motivates P e t e r ' s  concern f o r Hungary i n the A u s t r i a n  It  i s a comprehending l o v e of u n l i m i t e d r e s e r v e  it  g i v e s him  the p o s s i b i l i t y of p r e v e n t i n g  the Hungarian r e b e l s , j u s t as i t gave him 2 1  I b i d . , p.  2 2  Ibid.  507.  Council.  in life  the s l a u g h t e r the r e s o u r c e s  and of with  50 which t o see "Hungary's best f u t u r e i n A u s t r i a ' s f r i e n d s h i p " and t o work f o r i t .  I t i s t h e l o v e through which t h e  Countess r e s p e c t s t h e s a n c t i t y of Gettner's l i f e and responds t o i t s desperate b i d s t o c o n t i n u e . Gelda has f o r G e t t n e r , h e r f i r s t I am P e t e r ' s w i f e .  I t i s the love  husband.  . . .  But I was Richard's w i f e and those vows, Though t h e y ' r e c a n c e l l e d and nowhere now, Were abounding i n purpose then, l o o k i n g ahead With eyes narrowed a g a i n s t t h e weather To make a way where t h e r e was no way. P e t e r , i f you r e s t i n our l o v e as I do, Don't wish me t o ask R i c h a r d t o d i e . (p. 36) It  i s t h i s l o v e w i t h which P e t e r r e a s s u r e s them both i n t h e i r  doubts about h i s own s a f e t y , a s a f e t y which t h i s for  life  reverence  sacrifices.  no one need ever d i e For us; you know I understand. My God, I should be s o r r y t o see A dead man c r o s s our l o v e . (p. 36) And  i t i s t h e l o v e i n R i c h a r d Gettner a t t h e end t h a t responds  resignedly. G e t t n e r , an "unhappy f a c t f e a r i n g death" scrambles f o r l i f e , but t h e l i f e he so d e s p e r a t e l y seeks seems t o respond to  a magnanimity i n others t h a t comprehends a l a r g e r meaning  behind h i s l i f e / d e a t h s t r u g g l e .  He I s drawn s l o w l y and  s u r e l y from i n s e c u r i t y and i n s t a b i l i t y by t h i s l o v e , so t h a t the Countess' death i s p a r t o f t h e l i f e i n him t h a t he i s prepared t o respond t o with h i s own s a c r i f i c e .  This love i s  51 the v i s i o n t h a t m y s t e r i o u s l y r e l e g a t e s the c o n t r a d i c t i o n of l i f e and death t o one  another.  However, t r a g e d y and comedy, r e l i g i o n and paganism seem t o be f a r from t h e p o i n t F r y i s t r y i n g t o make i n t h e s e plays.  There i s something  b e h i n d them a l l , some i n t u i t i o n  or u n d e r s t a n d i n g t h a t r e n d e r s them a l l f l a t forms t h a t need the p e r s p e c t i v e of s p i r i t t o e s t a b l i s h t h e i r  significance.  I n s t e a d o f r e t u r n i n g f u r t h e r i n t o a r e p e t i t i o n o f what F r y has s a i d i n h i s a r t i c l e s about t h e s e m a t t e r s , C h r i s t i a n F a i t h r e i t e r a t e s much of what F r y t a l k s o f i n new p e r s p e c t i v e , by a q u o t a t i o n from A. B a r r a t t Brown and John W.  Harvey.  The c o n v e n t i o n a l d i s t i n c t i o n between ' s a c r e d ' and 'secul a r ' a r t i s i n d e e d m i s l e a d i n g and h a r m f u l t o both a r t and r e l i g i o n . Men have come t o speak of s a c r e d m u s i c , s a c r e d p i c t u r e s , o r s a c r e d v e r s e merely because t h e subj e c t m a t t e r i s connected w i t h a w o r l d o f r e l i g i o n which t h e y have p r e v i o u s l y s e p a r a t e d from t h e w o r l d o f o r d i n a r y life. But t h e more f r u i t f u l d i s t i n c t i o n i s between i n s p i r e d a r t and u n i n s p i r e d a r t . The former may be, whatever i t s o s t e n s i b l e o c c a s i o n o r s u b j e c t , e s s e n t i a l l y r e l i g i o u s ; t h e l a t t e r cannot be made so by any s e l e c t i o n of a ( s o - c a l l e d ) ' r e l i g i o u s ' s u b j e c t . . . . I t i s men and women i n t h e f i r s t i n s t a n c e who a r e i n s p i r e d and who a r e t h u s a b l e t o produce i n s p i r e d speech and w r i t i n g , music and p a i n t i n g ; and because t h e s p r i n g s o f i n s p i r a t i o n a r e never d r y , t h e book o f r e v e l a t i o n i s not c l o s e d . . . . I t may be suggested t h a t t h e t e s t o f t h e q u a l i t y of such d e l i v e r a n c e s — w h e t h e r i n a r t o r i n r e l i g i o u s speech o r w r i t i n g — w i l l be found i n t h e i r c a p a c i t y i n t u r n t o i n s p i r e , t o f i n d an answering echo i n t h e minds and l i v e s o f o t h e r s , and t o become a p e r p e t u a l f o u n t o f i n s p i r a t i o n . This i s the i m m o r t a l i t y of the great i n s p i r a t i o n s o f t h e p r o p h e t s and a r t i s t s — t h e y c o n t i n u e t o i n s p i r e because t h e y have i n them e t e r n a l l i f e . 'The words t h a t I speak unto you, t h e y a r e s p i r i t and t h e y are l i f e . ' These a r e t h e undying w o r d s — i n s p i r e d and i n s p i r i n g s t i l l . 2 3 Christian Faith, section  465.  52 THE  FIRSTBORN In the  and  comedies, F r y took h i g h l y i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r s  the p e r s o n a l  experience p a r t i c u l a r t o them w i t h i n  c o n s i s t e n t atmosphere of a season. perception  and  the  They a r r i v e at the same  momentary i n t u i t i o n t h a t i s r e f l e c t e d i n the  other p l a y s , but the d i f f e r e n c e i s t h a t i n the  religious  p l a y s the path t o t h i s r e v e l a t i o n , though i t i s the same i n nature,  i s represented  of a more u n i v e r s a l and it.  The  circumstances and  conditions  s o l i d f i g u r e or cause moving  along  more widespread comprehension of a s a i n t l i k e Cuthman,  a n a t i o n a l and and  by the  r e l i g i o u s l e a d e r l i k e Moses, or of  b i b l i c a l heroes, g i v e s f a r more d i r e c t n e s s and  Christianity immediate  depth t o the theme. T a l k i n g about c h a r a c t e r s  i n The  F i r s t b o r n Stanford  re-  marks t h a t : Each c h a r a c t e r m a n i f e s t s i t s e l f t o us i n a k i n d of r e f l e c t i v e process. We gaze as i t were down a c o r r i d o r at them, o r , r a t h e r t h e i r words and t h e i r gest u r e s l e a d us down a c o r r i d o r i n t o t h e i r own p a s t . A l l of them at t i m e s , t u r n back i n t h i s manner, seeking i n themselves a l i f e they once knew; f o r a l i f e which though o u t s i d e the temporal boundaries of the p l a y i s s t i l l w i t h i n them, a f f e c t i n g t h e i r present. I t i s t h i s t r a i t which g i v e s them t h e i r human p a t h o s — the sense we have of t h e i r having l i v e d before the r i s e of the c u r t a i n on the p l a y ; of t h e i r having r e j o i c e d and s u f f e r e d i n the past and of b e a r i n g t h a t past as a memory w i t h them, and as something more too than memory.24  ^Christopher  pp. H 5 - I I 5 T  :  F r y : An A p p r e c i a t i o n  (London,  1952),  53 T h i s combination  of c h a r a c t e r p l a c e d a g a i n s t the back-  drop of r a c i a l memory and a s e n s i t i v i t y t o some i n h e r e n t l i n k with another l i f e — a wider c r e a t i o n — h e i g h t e n s  this  i n d i v i d u a l i s a t i o n , so s t r o n g i n i t s p a r a l l e l s t o the Quaker position.  But wee  from tragedy intuition. f o r tragedy"  must remember t h a t Fry saw  i n the same way  comedy coming  t h a t experience g i v e s r i s e t o  Even the c h a r a c t e r s i n comedy must be  "qualified  and,  somehow have t o unmortify themselves: t o a f f i r m l i f e and a s s i m i l a t e death and persevere i n j o y . T h e i r h e a r t s must be as determined as the phoenix; what burns must a l s o l i g h t and renew; not by a v u l n e r a b l e optimism but by a hardwon m a t u r i t y of d e l i g h t , by the i n t u i t i o n of comedy, an a c t i v e p a t i e n c e d e c l a r i n g the solvency of good.25 Besides the comedies, F r y ' s other p l a y s , w i t h the c e p t i o n of Curtmantle,  ex-  were w r i t t e n t o be performed " e i t h e r  i n , or not f a r away from, a church." r e a l d i f f e r e n c e from the comedies.  T h i s i s t h e i r only The  category  religious  as d i s t i n c t from the comedies does not r e a l l y apply, f o r " i f any are r e l i g i o u s , they are a l l r e l i g i o u s and i f any  are  26 pagan, they are a l l pagan," says  Fry.  In The F i r s t b o r n the r e s c u i n g of the I s r a e l i t e s from bondage t o Egypt by Moses s u p p l i e s the circumstances a c t i o n of the p l a y , but F r y i n t e r p r e t s .  and  It  25  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Comedy," Tulane Drama Review (March, I 9 6 0 ) , 7 8 . y  26  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , Three P l a y s s i t y P r e s s , I960), v i i .  (London: Oxford  Univer-  5k  r e f l e c t s t h e debate between a u t h o r i t y and freedom i n Pharaoh and Moses . . . a passioned plea f o r s e l f d e t e r m i n a t i o n i n t h e language o f c u r r e n t p o l i t i c s — an a s s e r t i o n o f t h e r i g h t s o f t h e Jewish r a c e - t o e v o l v e t h e i r own ethos under a p r o v i d e n t i a l c o n t r a c t . 2 7 What seems t o be s i g n i f i c a n t i s t h e consequence of and not c h a r a c t e r s as i t was  events  i n t h e comedies.  You a p p e a l t o Moses, But Moses i s now o n l y a name and an obedience. I t i s t h e God o f t h e Hebrews, a v i g o u r moving In a g r e a t shadow, who draws t h e bow Of h i s m y s t e r y , t o l o o s e t h i s p u n i s h i n g arrow F e a t h e r e d w i t h my f a t e . . . .28 S e t i i s not a bad man,  but i s d e d i c a t e d t o t h e p r e s e r v a t i o n  o f t h a t power and assurance for  themselves.  t h a t t h e E g y p t i a n s had  created  H i s i s t h e cause o f a n a t i o n , where a l l i s  p a r t o f t h e whole and i s d e s t r o y e d i f i t i s u s e l e s s  and  inefficient.  order  But t h i s i m p o s i t i o n o f r a c i a l law and  on t h a t o r d e r and f o r m o f l i f e t h a t speaks f o r freedom of l i f e c a l l s up r e v o l t .  L i k e w i s e , Moses i s not a good  but he i s d e d i c a t e d t o t h e cause o f l i f e and t h e  man,  individual  or m i n o r i t y c o n c e r n , and i s i t s d r i v i n g power, i t s mouthpiece and i t s w i l l . I am h e r e t o appease t h e unconsummated R e s o u r c e l e s s dead, t o j o i n l i f e t o t h e l i v i n g . Is t h a t not u n d e r w r i t t e n by n a t u r e ? Is that Not a law? Do not ask me why I do i t I I live. I do t h i s t h i n g . I was born t h i s a c t i o n D e s p i t e you, t h r o u g h you, upon you, I am compelled, (p. 50) 'D. S t a n f o r d , "Comedy and Tragedy i n C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , " Modern Drama (May, 1 9 5 9 ) , 6. 28 C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , The F i r s t b o r n ( i n Three P l a y s ) , p.72. A l l f u r t h e r quotes, f r o m t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n t h e t e x t .  55 Without  him t h i s f o r c e i s no more than a f e e l i n g amongst  i n d i v i d u a l s t h a t i s unconscious and u n o r i e n t e d . it  With him  i s the same as the s t r u g g l e s of i n d i v i d u a l w i l l and the  r e s p e c t f o r l i f e i n the comedies.  These two men  stand f o r  the c o l l e c t i v e o r g a n i s a t i o n and c o n f l i c t of human-order and a u t h o r i t y u n n a t u r a l l y s u p p r e s s i n g i n d i v i d u a l freedom. r e p r e s e n t the c o n f l i c t of everyday miraculous  (the instrument of God).  commonplaces and the Moses i s f i g h t i n g f o r  a human cause and not a n a t i o n a l one and t h i s i s the f e r e n c e t h a t i s i l l u m i n a t e d by the c o n t e s t a n t s . apparent  They  dif-  It i s  i n the peace and calm of the r e l a t i o n s h i p s of Moses  and Rameses i n a world of s t r i f e , or the c h i l d l i k e  compassion  of  But  Teiisiret i n the p a l a c e of hard-headed p o l i t i c s .  takes her course amongst the good and bad on e i t h e r  nature  side.  We're not enemies so much As c r e a t u r e s of d i v i s i o n . You and I , Rameses, l i k e money i n a purse, Ring t o g e t h e r only t o be spent For d i f f e r e n t reasons, (p. 34) So Rameses i s going t o d i e , and b r u t a l i t y f i g h t s b r u t a l i t y at any l e v e l and w i t h any r e s o u r c e s i n anarchy, as Moses r e a l i s e s , when he i s i n e x t r i c a b l y i n v o l v e d i n the u n h a l t i n g march of these f o r c e s , and when death s t r i k e s a c r o s s the l a n d .  At  f i r s t Moses i s d i s i l l u s i o n e d . The shadows are too many. A l l was r i g h t , except t h i s , a l l , the reason, The purpose, the j u s t i c e , except t h i s the c u l m i n a t i o n . Good has t u r n e d a g a i n s t i t s e l f and become I t s own enemy, (p. 92)  56 Then he moves f r o m d i s t r a c t i o n t o a c c e p t a n c e . I do not know why t h e n e c e s s i t y o f God S h o u l d f e e d on g r i e f ; but i t seems s o . And t o know i t I s not t o g r i e v e l e s s , but t o see . g r i e f grow b i g W i t h what has d i e d , and i n some s p i r i t d i f f e r e n t l y Bear i t back t o l i f e . (p. 94) The c h a r a c t e r s Moses and S e t i have s t a r t e d t h e conf l i c t o f freedom and a u t h o r i t y and e v e n t s have r o l l e d them both up i n t h e consequences.  As Anath s a y s , " I t i s n ' t we  who make t h e b a r g a i n s / I n t h i s l i f e , but chance and t i m e . " (p.  66)  But t h e morning w h i c h s t i l l "comes/To Egypt as t o  I s r a e l , " sees t h e f o r c e s spent and I s r a e l f r e e .  However,  t h e y a r e b o t h l e f t t o pursue t h e i r s e p a r a t e d e s t i n i e s w i t h i n the  w o r l d i h which t h e y were so r e c e n t l y i n c o n f l i c t . We must each f i n d our s e p a r a t e meaning In t h e p e r s u a s i o n o f our days U n t i l we meet i n t h e meaning of t h e w o r l d , (p. 95) In a f o r e w o r d t o t h e second e d i t i o n o f t h e p l a y F r y  s a y s t h a t he hopes t h a t Rameses as t h e f i g u r e o f l i f e  will  t a k e t h e c e n t r a l p l a c e . He c o n t i n u e s w i t h Moses. Moses i s a movement towards m a t u r i t y , towards a b a l a n c i n g o f l i f e w i t h i n t h e m y s t e r y , where c o n f l i c t s and dilemmas a r e t h e t r e m b l i n g o f t h e b a l a n c e . . . he s u f f e r s a momentary s p i r i t u a l d e a t h a t t h e moment when t h e f i r s t b o r n ' s p h y s i c a l d e a t h c r e a t e s t h e Hebrew's freedom; and h i s r e s u r r e c t i o n f r o m t h a t , . . . c a r r i e s w i t h i t something o f t h e l i f e o f Rameses.29 Moses shows t h e i n e x o r a b l e march o f p r o g r e s s , where  life  p a r a d o x i c a l l y t r i u m p h s i n b r e a k i n g bondage a t t h e expense o f i n d i v i d u a l l i f e c a r e l e s s l y t o s s e d by t h e s e l a r g e r f o r c e s a t C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , Three P l a y s (London, I 9 6 0 ) , p. 5.  57 play.  Moses' r e s u r r e c t i o n , w i t h h i s r e a l i s a t i o n of  "the  morning t h a t s t i l l comes" t o them both i s as i t were t h e awareness o f l i f e beyond t h e s t r u g g l e , b e h i n d t h e cause of nations.  T h i s i n t u i t i o n a r i s e s f r o m what was  a few moments  b e f o r e t h e d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t of h i s c o n c e p t s t h a t  individual  l i v e s w i t h i n t h i s s t r u g g l e can a l t e r the j u s t i c e or n e c e s s i t y o f h i s own  cause.  For Moses, i n t h a t moment "a deep and  u r g e n t q u e s t i o n mark" had hung over t h e ways of men 30 ways of God.  He had seen God  an i n n o c e n t  l i f e involved.  n a t i o n s has t h e same v i t a l i t y a c h i e v i n g t h e i r own  the  as r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e i r cause  and t h e i r cause as b e i n g r i g h t , but Rameses had though he was  and  d i e d even  Here t h e cause of  i n i t as d i d i n d i v i d u a l ' s  v i s i o n as p a r t of t h e i r d e s t i n y i n t h e  comedies, and each s i d e , God's and t h e enemy's, i s p a r t  of  c r e a t i o n , l e f t t o f i n d ' f t h e i r s e p a r a t e meaning" u n t i l t h e y can "meet i n t h e meaning of the w o r l d . " The t r a g e d y  (p.  95)  of t h i s p l a y l i e s i n t h e c o n f l i c t of  p e r i e n c e , j u s t where F r y  frells  us t o l o o k f o r i t .  ex-  Moses  warns S e t i t h a t Egypt i s o n l y One g o l d e n e r u p t i o n of t i m e , one f l y i n g spark Attempting the u l t i m a t e f i r e . But who can say What s e c r e t s my r a c e h a s , what unworked seams Of c o n s c i o u s n e s s i n mind and s o u l ? Deny L i f e t o i t s e l f and l i f e w i l l h a r n e s s and r i d e you To i t s purpose. My people s h a l l become t h e m s e l v e s , By r e a s o n of t h e i r own god who speaks w i t h i n them. (p. 49) 3°Ibid.  5a  But n e i t h e r i s f r e e t o c o n s i d e r t h e o t h e r i n any p e a c e f u l or i n t e r m e d i a r y way.  N e i t h e r can p e r c e i v e t h e v i s i o n o r  a c c e p t any i n s i g h t u n t i l events a r e over and e x p e r i e n c e has t a u g h t them i t s l e s s o n .  The ending i s not t r a g i c  t h a t i s where t h e i n s i g h t l i e s .  because  The t r a g e d y l i e s i n t h e  f a c t t h a t e x p e r i e n c e has t o work i t s e l f o u t .  The e x p e r i e n c e  shows c o n f l i c t whereas l i f e , as we have viewed i t so f a r i n t h e comedies, r i s e s above t h i s t o a v i s i o n o f j o y , peace, and l o v e , whether i t i s t h r o u g h C h r i s t i a n tic  exuberance  i d e a l s o r a roman-  i n t h e happy t r i u m p h s o f l i f e .  Quaker p r i n -  c i p l e s a r e a b s e n t , but t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f Moses i s t h e k i n d on which t h e i r p r i n c i p l e s a r e d e r i v e d . THQR WITH, ANGELS In t h i s p l a y F r y ' s concerns w i t h t h e mystery a r e C h r i s t i a n , and t h e s u b j e c t o f t h e p l a y i s C h r i s t i a n i t y . tradictions  The con-  o f C h r i s t i a n i t y and paganism a r e t h e theme o f  t h e p l a y and t h e y p r e s e n t t h e m s e l v e s i n t h e s p i r i t u a l u n r e s t of Cymen.  But t h e r e i s a l s o a theme o f w i d e r concern  tran-  scending the C h r i s t i a n teachings t h a t provided s a t i s f a c t i o n t o t h e i n a d e q u a c i e s Cymen f i n d s i n h i s pagan r e l i g i o n .  So  f a r t h e p l a y s c o n s i d e r e d have c a r r i e d C h r i s t i a n views and Christian  symbols i t i s t r u e , but problems a r i s e .  F o r ex-  ample, S.M. Wiersma s u g g e s t s t h a t i n A Phoenix Too Frequent  59 the  symbols and themes a r e a l l C h r i s t i a n .  31  There i s t h e  theme o f b u r i a l and r e s u r r e c t i o n i n Dynamene s and Doto's T  s e c l u s i o n u n t i l t h e e a r l y h o u r s o f t h e t h i r d day.  There  i s t h e h o l l y t r e e as t h e C h r i s t i a n symbol o f t h e c r o s s w i t h the  b e r r i e s r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e drops o f C h r i s t ' s b l o o d .  How-  e v e r , t h e r e a r e a l s o a l l u s i o n s t o Greek and Roman r e l i g i o n such as t h e P l e i a d e s , a m i s c e l l a n y o f gods and s p i r i t s , and the  s t o r y on t h e wine bowls.  ing  t o t h e t i m e s and t h e t i t l e , a f a r more a c c e p t a b l e symbol  w i t h i n the play.  Further the phoenix i s ,  accord-  In the l i g h t of these confusions of C h r i s -  t i a n and pagan symbols and i d e a s , and i n t h e l i g h t o f F r y ' s remarks about h i s comedies and r e l i g i o u s p l a y s b e i n g r e l i g i o u s and pagan a l i k e , i t seems f a r more r e a s o n a b l e t o s t i c k t o t h e i d e a o f a C h r i s t / P h o e n i x symbol o f l o v e i n t h i s p l a y . the  Though  C h r i s t and t h e P h o e n i x symbols can be i n t e r p r e t e d sepa-  r a t e l y a t v a r i o u s l e v e l s , t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h e i d e a t h e y p r e s e n t seems t o f a r outweigh t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f an e l a b o r a t e s y m b o l i c f o r m , even i f t h e l i k e l i h o o d o f i t s p r e s e n c e i s justified.  The d i v e r s e a l l u s i o n s convey t h e meaning  r i s i n g anew f r o m i t s  (love  own dead body) e q u a l l y e f f e c t i v e l y  t h r o u g h b o t h a C h r i s t image and t h e P h o e n i x symbol.  Similarly,  i t seems b e s t t o t a k e t h e wine t o a s t s and o t h e r images as a c e l e b r a t i o n o f l i f e t h a t combines both C h r i s t i a n and Pagan s o u r c e s t o c e l e b r a t e t h e l i v i n g i n t h e dead as w e l l as new — -  bol,"  ' "A P h o e n i x Too F r e q u e n t : A Study i n Source and SymModern Drama, V I I I , i i i (December, 1^65).  60 life.  Both a r e a f f i r m e d i n terms o f l o v e and a j o y i n l i f e  t h a t i s against death. The s p i r i t u a l c l i m a t e o f Thor With A n g e l s r e f l e c t s t h e n a t i v i t y and t h e c r u c i f i x i o n .  The t r e e i s a g a i n p r e s e n t ,  and i t seems w o r t h w h i l e t o keep i n mind t h e f a c t t h a t so many o f t h e hero-gods and a v a t a r s a r e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e Tree t h a t t h e c e n t r a l symbol of C h r i s t i a n i t y i s o f a t r u l y u n i v e r s a l n a t u r e and by no means an h i s t o r i c a l abnormality.32 As f o r t h e theme, t h i s p l a y i s " a c t i v e l y concerned w i t h s p e c i f i c C h r i s t i a n v i r t u e s : w i t h mercy and t h e v a l u e of 33 s a c r i f i c e u n d e r s t o o d i n t h e l i g h t of C h r i s t ' s example." ' IT  T h i s i s one o f t h e s p i r i t u a l v a l u e s o f t h e C h r i s t i a n m y s t i c . A. Watts says t h a t m y s t i c i s m ' s e n t i r e c o n c e r n i s t o t r a n s c e n d s u b j e c t i v i t y , so t h a t man may 'wake up' t o t h e w o r l d which i s c o n c r e t e and a c t u a l , as d i s t i n c t from t h a t which i s p u r e l y a b s t r a c t and c o n c e p t u a l . 3 4 And W.R.  Inge c o n s i d e r s m y s t i c i s m as one of t h e causes  "why  t h e t y p e o f r e l i g i o n o f which t h e Quakers a r e t h e most cons i s t e n t r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s i s g a i n i n g ground," and d e f i n e s t h e i r t y p e of m y s t i c i s m as one w h i c h r e s t s on t h e a p p r e h e n s i o n o f s p i r i t u a l v a l u e s , not on t h e acceptance o f s u p e r n a t u r a l phenomena or t h e d i s m i s s a l o f t h e imponderables i n t o t h e l i m b o o f t h e epiphenomena.35 A l a n W. W a t t s , Myth and R i t u a l i n C h r i s t i a n i t y (London: Thames & Hudson, 1 9 5 4 ) , p. 158. 33 ^ D . S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y : An A p p r e c i a t i o n (London: 1952), p. 99. ^A. W a t t s , Myth and R i t u a l i n C h r i s t i a n i t y , p. 15. 35 ^ M y s t i c i s m i n R e l i g i o n (London: H u t c h i n s o n ' s ) , p. 128. 3 2  3  J  61 Pure and  m y s t i c i s m does n o t  Quakerism, however, i s a group  Christian  and  c o n c e p t s , and  religion  I t has  s e a r c h , f o r though based  c r e a t i o n and  form  grounded  them t o t h e m y s t i c a l i n  n o t h i n g t o f e a r from  d i s c o v e r y and  i t s evidence i s i n t e r n a l  on f a c t s and  between  i t incorporates the Subjective  contemplative, a t t r i b u t i n g  experience.  is  particular  i s t o o s u b j e c t i v e t o p r o v i d e a bond o f u n i o n  individuals. in  b e l o n g t o any  experience.  an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  i t s knowledge  Divine love, union  o f God's p u r p o s e  are  love  in their  pressions In in  own  But  spiritual  are  not  i t i s the comprehensiveness  of  lives  of t h e i r humanitarianism  the r i p p l e s  s e l f i s h , grasping love of l i f e lap  and  on l i f e  itself.  embrace i n t h e f i r e  ex-  distinguishes  mystery.  extend from the i n someone l i k e  I n Venus O b s e r v e d i s that  i n t h e outward  that  F r y ' s p l a y s l o v e i s a cosmic  a p o o l of water,  with  synony-  mous i n t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e C h r i s t i a n m y s t i c , and d i s t i n c t i v e l y Quakerly.  re-  Like  rings  individual's Gettner, to  t h e Duke and  o f human s o l i d a r i t y  them.  Perpetua's  i n misery.  B u t , w h a t e v e r i t i s , a g r e a t e r l o v e moves t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s into  life  and t o w a r d s t h e m y s t e r y .  Tegeus' worshipping  l o v e o f beauty  and M o s e s ' s e n t i m e n t a l r e f l e c t i o n s youth  a s i t seems t o be  Rameses. Merlin's  The  end  result  intuition  perspective that  reflected lies  I t i s t h e same w i t h faithful  to the  on h i s once p r o m i s i n g i n the  hero-worshipping  i n an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  o f c r e a t i o n and  grave,  the Countess  places a respect f o r l i f e  like  Rosmarin's  above t h e l u x u r y  62 of f a m i l y an  feeling.  L o v e does n o t  affection for l i f e  to trust  i n the  and  the  living.  harmony of l i f e ' s 5  r e s i g n a t i o n of time, m u t a b i l i t y This  i s the  order,  and  law the  work i s n o t  are  1  T  part  to live  ho  Fry  Christian  from the  laws of l i f e I*  of l i f e .  and  the  of the  play.  live  and  the  love  phenomenon o f  i s concerned with that  but is  but  death.  life's  i s apparent  l a w s o f God,  the  the  in his living  live.  instinctive  assertions  of  life  In Moel, i t i s a s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d  ("I want t o l i v e  having a l i f e  t o demand i t ) c o m p a r a b l e t o what t h e  w i t h i n me  that  Countess s a i d  n  Gettner to  a passion  which i n c l u d e s  demands o f l o v e t o  With Angels the  r  be  To  order,  and  doctrine  written  seem t o  will  seems  of  Janik L i f e has a hope o f h i m would never have l i v e d .  Or he  . . .  Richard l i v e s I n h i s own r i g h t , C o l o n e l , n o t i n y o u r s Or m i n e . (The Dark I s L i g h t Enough, p . 54) For  Cymen's f a m i l y t h i s w i s h i s b e h i n d t h e  d r i v e s them t o in  direct  conflict  eventually recognition  give  people expect men  and  the  and  with the  a p p e a s e t h e i r g o d s , and C h r i s t i a n teachings  satisfaction  Cymen s e e k s .  o f n e e d M a r t i n a adds a l o v e  compassionate.  old  sacrifice  Despite of her,  prisoners,  the  To  of l i f e  calls  because they are directness  and  lives  that  i t is  of l o v e  d i s c r i m i n a t i o n s her  i t instinctively  Cymen, h o w e v e r , l a c k s t h e  pagan t e r r o r  her  a  direct  that  is  family to  that  and  help  i n need of i t .  naivete  that  lets  63 his  daughter keep such c o n f l i c t i n g f o r c e s a p a r t . I t *s a p i t y You had t o be born a B r i t o n .  I'm f o r c e d t o h a t e you.  -  You l o o k t o o t i r e d t o be h a t e d And t h a t won't do a t a l l . (p. 144) The i n s i s t e n c e o f l i f e t h a t Cymen f e e l s g e n e r a t e d i n hims e l f , r e g a r d l e s s o f H o e l ' s f a i t h and r a c e , poses a l o t o f d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , doubt, f r u s t r a t i o n , and c o n c e r n .  Further-  more, i t i s beyond t h e s i m p l e answers o f h i s pagan b e l i e f , so he throws down i t s a l t a r i n d e s p a i r , and c r i e s t o h i s gods By what s t r o k e was Hacked so s e p a r a t e from Beyond us? You make us I n our own w o r l d . . . .  t h e human f l e s h t h e body o f l i f e t o be t h e e t e r n a l a l i e n (p. 138)  The appearance o f M e r l i n i s as though a more thorough way o f l i f e and a t r u e r v i s i o n o f e x i s t e n c e has c r e p t i n t o t h e p l a y , one t h a t i s c l o s e r t o a s t i l l p o i n t i n t i m e and creation.  W i t h h i s p r e s e n c e i t seems as though t h e problems  and f e a r s o f t h e pagan and t h e r e s p o n s e o f a C h r i s t i a n l o v e and f a i t h p l a y as f o r c e s a c r o s s t h e f a c e of a c r e a t i o n t h a t h o l d s them d e s p i t e t h e i r c o n t r a d i c t o r y n a t u r e . Death i s what conquers t h e k i l l e r ,  not t h e . k i l l e d .  You, and moreover y o u r c o n q u e r o r s , w i l l bear K i n d l y and as though by n a t u r e our name, t h e B r i t i s h Name, and a l l t h e p a r a p h e r n a l i a , l e g e n d And h i s t o r y , as thoughyou were our widow Not our conqueror. . . . (p. 127) ^ C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , Thor W i t h Angels ( i n Three P l a y s ) , p. 120. A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n t h e t e x t .  64 M e r l i n sees t h r o u g h t i m e and watches l i f e ' s rough and of  tumble  body and s p i r i t , "quest and conquest and quest a g a i n , "  and comments on what he sees pass l i k e moments a c r o s s t h e face of B r i t a i n . to  To t h e pagan, l i f e remains  indifferent  man Much more so your gods Who l i v e w i t h o u t t h e w o r l d , who never f e e l As t h e w o r l d f e e l s i n s p r i n g t i m e t h e s t a b of t h e s p e a r And t h e s p u r t o f g o l d e n b l o o d , W i n t e r ' s w o u n d - i n - t h e - s i d e , t h e p l a c e where l i f e b e g i n s N o t h i n g , i t seems, c a r e s f o r your d e f e a t , (p. 127)  W h i l e C h r i s t i a n i t y c o n j u r e s up t h e image o f a time b e f o r e the  Pagan conquest A Christian land. There I t was, and o l d Joseph's f a i t h f u l s t a f f B r e a k i n g i n t o s c a r l e t bud i n t h e f a l l i n g snow. But as I s a i d a t t h e t i m e , t h e m i r a c l e Was commonplace: s t a v e s o f c h e s t n u t wood And maywood and t h e l i k e p e r f o r m i t every y e a r . (p. 128) O s t e n s i b l y t h i s p l a y c e l e b r a t e s t h e a r r i v a l of C h r i s -  t i a n i t y t o B r i t a i n , and t h e t e a c h i n g s of C h r i s t i a n l o v e a r e the  means by w h i c h Cymen's eyes a r e opened t o a v i s i o n t h a t  i s l i k e t h a t o f t h e w o r k i n g t o g e t h e r o f r o o t and s k y ,  man  and God t h a t l i e s so d e e p l y i n g r a i n e d i n The Boy W i t h A C a r t . But I have h e a r d Word o f h i s God, and f e l t our l o n e l y f l e s h Welcome t o c r e a t i o n . The f e a r f u l s i l e n c e Became t h e s i l e n c e o f g r e a t sympathy, The q u i e t o f God and man  i n t h e mutual word. (pp. 151-152)  But M e r l i n submerges r e l i g i o n i n t h e m y s t e r y , t h e s p i r i t  be-  h i n d i t - - t h e s p i r i t t h a t was b e h i n d t h e one-sidedness o f Moses' concept o f h i s God and t h a t i n c l u d e d him and i t as a n o t h e r p a r t of t h e mystery s e e k i n g i t s own s e p a r a t e meaning.  65 The C h r i s t i a n sees s p i r i t and being i n c r e a t i o n through t h e concept and d o c t r i n e of C h r i s t i a n l o v e , but M e r l i n ' s v i s i o n is  o f the n a t u r a l w o r l d , and i t speaks f o r the most funda-  mental and most t r u e s p i r i t in  all  of being t h a t l i f e  responds t o  Fry's plays.  A l l dreams out of the slumbering rock, Each dream answering t o a shape Which was i n dream before the shapes were shapen; And above the shapes of l i f e , the shape Of death, the s i n g u l a r shape of the dream d i s s o l v i n g , Into which a l l o b e d i e n t l y come. And above t h e shape of death, the shape of w i l l Where the stream of the dream wakes i n the open eyes Of t h e . s e a of l o v e of the morning of the God. S t i l l I O b s e r v e the very obdurate pressure Edging men towards a shape beyond The shape they know. Now and then, by a s p i r i t Of l i g h t , they manage the clumsy approximation, Overturn i t , t u r n a g a i n , r e f a s h i o n leaner the a d v i s i n g of t h e i r need. Always the shape l y i n g over l i f e . The shape shone L i k e a f a i n t c i r c l e round a moon Of hazy gods, and age by age The gods reformed a c c o r d i n g t o the shape, According t o the shape t h a t was a word, A c c o r d i n g t o Thy Word. . . . (pp. 145-146) "A s e c r e t d i r e c t i o n p a s s i n g the gods," i t goes s t r a i g h t through C h r i s t i a n i t y t o the key i n which c r e a t i o n was composed. The u n i t y of t h i n g s , and the i d e a of what we may perhaps term an e v o l u t i o n a r y u n i v e r s e i s annunciated. The passage i n which the images t h a t represent these ideas occurs i s spoken, s i g n i f i c a n t l y , by M e r l i n . . . and not by one of the C h r i s t i a n c h a r a c t e r s . At the same time . . . the pagan sage, prophesies the coming of t h e C h r i s t i a n s . . . whose a r r i v a l . . . w i l l i n some way f u l f i l t h e end towards which c r e a t i o n has been moving.  66 Looked a t i n t h i s l i g h t , i t i s p o s s i b l e t o r e c o n c i l e M e r l i n ' s 'pantheism' w i t h t h e g o s p e l . . . . C h r i s t i a n i t y , F r y perhaps s u g g e s t s , was t h e next s t a g e i n 'emergent e v o l u t i o n ' — t h e f l o w e r i m p l i c i t i n an e a r l i e r seed.37 A SLEEP OF PRISONERS Mandel c a l l s t h i s p l a y an a l l e g o r i c a l masque t h a t " a s s e r t s F r y ' s i d e a s r a t h e r t h a n t e s t i n g them," and F r y hims e l f i n d i c a t e s t h i s a s s e r t i o n when he s u g g e s t s t h a t I t has always seemed t o me t h a t t h e d i f f e r e n c e s and c o n f l i c t s between men s p r i n g o f t e n — p e r h a p s more o f t e n t h a n n o t — f r o m t h e d i f f e r e n c e s between t h e outward armour, t h e f a c a d e s b e h i n d w h i c h we h i d e our s p i r i t s . Perhaps t h e d e s i g n of t h e p l a y c o u l d be t o show f i r s t of a l l a group of men as t h e y seemed on t h e s u r f a c e t o each o t h e r , and t h e n l e t them s l e e p and dream, each Man dreaming of t h e o t h e r t h r e e and of h i m s e l f , so t h a t each c h a r a c t e r c o u l d be seen f o u r t i m e s over.38 As a r e s u l t t h i s p l a y i s one  of F r y ' s most d i r e c t  about t h e n a t u r e  conflict i n a Christian  of l o v e and  These f o u r p r i s o n e r s of war  statements context.  c o n f i n e d i n a c h u r c h move  from d i v i s i o n t o u n i t y t h r o u g h t h e i r dreams.  I t i s the  "growth of t h e v i s i o n and an i n c r e a s e d p e r c e p t i o n of what 39 makes f o r l i f e and what makes f o r d e a t h . "  From David's  f r u s t r a t i o n and t o t a l incomprehension of P e t e r ' s temperament, t h e squabble p e n e t r a t e s  David's s l e e p i n g s t a t e .  H i s dream  p r o j e c t s t h e s i t u a t i o n i n h i s mind t o t h e p a r a l l e l of t h e D. S t a n f o r d , C h r i s t o p h e r F r y : An A p p r e c i a t i o n don, 1 9 5 2 ) , pp. 99-100.  (Lon-  ^ 0 . Mandel, Etudes A n g l a i s (1957), 345; and C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Drama i n a House of Worship? The New York Times (October 14, 1951), s e c . 11,2. 39 D . S t a n f o r d , "Comedy and Tragedy i n C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , " Modern Drama (May, 1959), 4. 3  V7  67 C a i n and A b e l s t o r y o f o u t r i g h t murder, seen t h r o u g h Gain's angry  eyes.  I loved l i f e W i t h a good rage you gave me. And how much b e t t e r Did A b e l do? He s e t up h i s h e a r t A g a i n s t your government o f f l e s h . How was I e x p e c t e d ' t o guess ,Q That what I am you d i d n ' t want. Then i n P e t e r ' s dream, h i s — A b s a l o m ' s - ^ d e a t h becomes a p o l i t i c a l murder by D a v i d .  Absalom w i l l a t t r i b u t e no importance t o  e v i l i n o t h e r s s i n c e he has no enemies and cannot see t h e evil. H e l l i s i n my f a t h e r ' s head Streaming w i t h imagined hordes And c o n j u r e s them t o come. But you and I Know t h a t we can t u r n away And e v e r y t h i n g w i l l t u r n I n t o i t s e l f a g a i n . What i s A l i t t l e e v i l here and t h e r e between f r i e n d s ? (p. 182) In Adam's dream, t h e s a c r i f i c e o f l o v e f o r t h e sake of p r o g r e s s — t h e s t o r y o f Abraham and I s a a c — s e e s P e t e r saved by a new i n c i t e m e n t t o l o v e . There's no l o o s e n i n g , s i n c e men w i t h men Are l i k e t h e k n o t t e d s e a . L i f t him down From t h e stone t o t h e g r a s s a g a i n , and, even so f r e e , Yet he w i l l f i n d t h e angry c i t i e s h o l d him. But l e t him come back t o t h e s t r a n g e m a t t e r o f l i v i n g As b e s t he can: . . . (p. 192) In t h e l a s t dream, Meadows' dream, t h e y a r e a l l t o g e t h e r . D a v i d , P e t e r , and Adams appear as Shadrac, Meshac, and Abednego and l i v e  i n undivided triumph through the f i r e  of  t h e i r own i n h u m a n i t y t o one a n o t h e r . - C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , A S l e e p o f P r i s o n e r s ( i n Three P l a y s ) p. 179A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n t h e t e x t .  6a  Look, how i n t e n s e The p l a c e i s now, w i t h swaying and t r o u b l e d f i g u r e s . The f l a m e s a r e men: a l l human. There's no f i r e ! B r e a t h and b l o o d chokes and burns us. This S u r e l y i s unquenchable? I t can o n l y t r a n s f o r m . There's no way out. We can o n l y s t a y and a l t e r , (p.  208)  They are j o i n e d by Meadows whose q u i e t l o v e and s t r e n g t h seem t h e whole cause of t h e u n i t y i n r e t r o s p e c t .  I t i s he  seems t o u n d e r s t a n d and i n t e r p r e t what t h e o t h e r s  who  feel.  Good has no f e a r ; Good i s i t s e l f , whatever comes. I t grows, and makes, and b r a v e l y P e r s u a d e s , beyond a l l t i l t of wrong: I f we b e l i e v e i t w i t h a l o n g courage of t r u t h , The  p l a y f i n d s i n t h e s e f o u r men  of u n d e r s t a n d i n g for  t h e sake of  (p.  t h e r e c o n c i l i a t i o n and  203) love  i n t h e u n i o n o f l o v e , one n a t u r e w i t h a n o t h e r life.  The human h e a r t can go t o t h e l e n g t h s of Dark and c o l d we may be, but t h i s I s no w i n t e r now. The f r o z e n m i s e r y Of c e n t u r i e s b r e a k s , c r a c k s , begins t o move; The t h u n d e r i s t h e t h u n d e r of t h e f l o e s , The thaw, t h e f l o o d , t h e u p s t a r t S p r i n g . Thank God our t i m e i s now when wrong Gomes up t o f a c e us everywhere, Never t o l e a v e us t i l l we t a k e The l o n g e s t s t r i d e of s o u l men ever t o o k . A f f a i r s a r e now soul'., s i z e The e n t e r p r i s e I s e x p l o r a t i o n i n t o God. (p. 209)  God.  The whole concept of t h e p l a y i s based on f o u r  biblical  s t o r i e s which a r e C h r i s t i a n myths h o l d i n g t h e i r f u n d a m e n t a l t r u t h i n t h e dream s t a t e of t h e s e s o l d i e r s .  Here i s a  d r a m a t i s a t i o n of t h e J u n g i a n dream s t a t e embodying t h e t i v e u n c o n s c i o u s of a r a c e ' s h i s t o r y t o g e t h e r w i t h r e l i g i o u s t u r n s t h a t throw back t o t h e b e g i n n i n g s  collec-  specific of C h r i s t i a n  69 myth.  I n t h e i r dreams t h e s e f o u r men f o l l o w t h e p a t h o f  t h e i r c u l t u r a l h i s t o r y , l i v i n g t h e s p i r i t u a l memory o f t h e i r r a c e as i t l e a d s them i n t o t h e meaning o f t h e w o r l d and b r i n g s them up t o t h e i r own t i m e s o f war o u t s i d e t h e church i n w h i c h t h e y a r e i m p r i s o n e d , and o f war among t h e m s e l v e s . They have met t h e d i f f e r e n c e s and c o n f l i c t s i n t h e i r own f a c a d e s i n terms o f common memories and r e a c h a common u n i t y o f s p i r i t w i t h i n t h o s e memories, a new r e s p e c t f o r humanity and l i f e t h a t supersedes  the J u d e o - C h r i s t i a n context of  t h e i r t i m e s and t h e i r dreams. I n The F i r s t b o r n F r y was u s i n g n o t o n l y t h e same t e c h n i q u e , but s i m i l a r m a t e r i a l .  I t i s not h i s t o r i c a l  evidence,  b i b l i c a l s t o r y , o r happy romance, r e t o l d as drama, t h a t count w i t h F r y .  I t i s t h e meaning o r t r u t h b e h i n d t h e f a c t s  and t h e form t h a t c a r r y t h e i m p o r t , and i t i s t h e symbols and a l l u s i o n s , e v e n t s , c h a r a c t e r s and s t o r y t h a t t o g e t h e r create the climate.  I n t h e comedies t h i s e f f e c t was  a c h i e v e d by a u n i t y i n t h e season o f t h e p l a y , w h i l e i n t h e r e l i g i o u s p l a y s t h e C h r i s t i a n and Pagan a r e t i e d i n t o t h i s mood.  But when F r y d e a l s w i t h b i b l i c a l events as he does i n  A S l e e p o f P r i s o n e r s and The F i r s t b o r n , C h r i s t i a n h i s t o r y as he does i n The Boy With A C a r t and Thor With A n g e l s — t o a l e s s e r e x t e n t , and h i s t o r y as i n C u r t m a n t l e , t h i s suddenly a c h i e v e s t h e s t a t u r e o f myth-making. t h a t F r y s p e c i a l i s e s i n i s t h e essence  effect  This technique  o f myth i t s e l f .  F r y ' s words i t c a r r i e s t h e " r i n g o f an oHd t r u t h . "  In  70 The t r a n s f o r m i n g power of t h e myth depends upon a f u l l and e f f e c t i v e r e a l i s a t i o n o f i t s meaning, which i s something v e r y much more t h a n a devout f a s c i n a t i o n f o r t h e numinous q u a l i t y of i t s symbols.41 I n C h r i s t i a n i t y even Moses i s a C h r i s t f i g u r e who  provides  t h e c o n n e c t i o n of t h e p a s c h a l lamb s a c r i f i c e t o C h r i s t ' s sacrifice.  Moses was  s a v i o u r of I s r a e l and fought  f o r c e s of e v i l i n t h e same way  the  ( C h r i s t ' s grace i s r e t r o -  a c t i v e i n e n l i g h t e n i n g a l l t h e s e e r s of o l d ) .  Furthermore,  t h e h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e of C h r i s t , a l i v e and dead, shows  men  "the i n d e s t r u c t i b l e power of l o v e " t h a t i s " c e n t r a l t o  any  statement w h i c h s e t s out t h e b e l i e f s of t h e S o c i e t y of Friends."^  3  I n f a c t F r i e n d s ' views on t h e B i b l e and  other  such t e s t i m o n i e s g i v e e v i d e n c e of a s i m i l a r a t t i t u d e . was  a l s o c o n s i d e r e d i n t h e d i s c u s s i o n on The  This  Boy W i t h A C a r t .  [Quakers d e a l w i t h B i b l i c a l events i n a way t h a t ] makes p o s s i b l e a r e t u r n t o b e l i e f w i t h an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of t h e deeper meanings i n h e r e n t i n t h e words of t h e B i b l e . At t h i s stage we are not so much concerned w i t h h i s t o r i c a l v a l i d i t y o r r a t i o n a l c o n s i s t e n c y w i t h our s c i e n t i f i c or p h i l o s o p h i c a l o u t l o o k as we are w i t h t h e i n n e r s i g n i f i c a n c e of h i s t o r y , myth and symbol. Symbol i s a l a n g uage o f r e l i g i o n , but i t must never be a s u b s t i t u t e f o r religion. A l l l i v i n g t h e o l o g y grows out of p e r s o n a l experience. A c c o r d i n g l y each b i b l i c a l t e x t , t o be of r e a l v a l u e , must have s p i r i t u a l r e l e v a n c e t o t h e i n n e r r e l i g i o u s e x p e r i e n c e of t h e r e a d e r or h e a r e r . This . . . may be u n d e r s t o o d as i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e B i b l e t h r o u g h the L i g h t Within.44 ^A.W. W a t t s , Myth and R i t u a l i n C h r i s t i a n i t y 1 9 5 4 ) , p. 1354 2  ,  I b i d . , p. —  (London,  92.  .,  ^H.B. P o i n t i n g , The House, 1953), p. 7.  S o c i e t y of F r i e n d s  (London: F r i e n d s  ^ H o w a r d H B r i n t o n , F r i e n d s f o r 300 Years (New H a r p e r , 1952), p. 34.  York:  71 A Sleep of P r i s o n e r s d e a l s w i t h the s p i r i t u a l i m p l i c a t i o n s of v a r i o u s p o i n t s of view.  Their relevance  the u n i t y of the p l a y and the u n i t y the c h a r a c t e r s achieve,  l i e s i n the f i g u r e of C h r i s t h i m s e l f .  of these b i b l i c a l and  t o both again  Each  one  s t o r i e s c o n t a i n s the same myth of good  e v i l , of c o n f l i c t and  s a c r i f i c e — a myth t h a t reaches  i t s climax i n the r e l e v a n c e  of a c t u a l f a c t t o  t r u t h t h a t the s t o r y of C h r i s t  mythical  achieved.  In t h i s p l a y , perhaps more than i n the o t h e r s , i s the i d e a of e v i l as a consequence of man's F r y emphasises v i c e s and evil in his characters.^  there  consciousness.  shortcomings r a t h e r than a c t i v e David seems the most c l e a r example  i n t h i s p l a y , and Henry c a r r i e s the i d e a i n Curtmantle. While i n the other p l a y s , though i t i s present,  romance of  both comedy and C h r i s t i a n v i r t u e tend t o minimise i t . However, i n a l l the p l a y s the supreme good opposing t h i s i s t h a t man The  must d i e and  love f o r  evil  life.^  C h r i s t i a n archetypes seem t o a r i s e from a p a r t i c u l a r  p o i n t of importance i n other myths, o r , at l e a s t , they  contain  the p r o p e r t i e s of s e v e r a l o l d e r myths t h a t go back t o a s t o r y of c r e a t i o n .  In a very s p e c i f i c way  the myth of c r e a t i o n  longs t o everyman, f o r Adam i s the new ual  in his a b i l i t y  iii  ^ E m i l Roy, "The (December, 196$), 4 6  Ibid.  t o see a l l he  c r e a t u r e , the  be-  individ-  encounters as i f f o r the  Becket P l a y s , " Modern Drama, V I I I , 270.  72 first  time.  He  n e e d s ne names and  sense  o f wonder g r a s p e d  teaches him the habit hold  by no  the f u l l n e s s  of  vision  experience  What F r y and  Boy  and  With  the mystery  depths  of the C h r i s t i a n  hovering  he  of existence.  A Cart, this  and man,  life  time, while yet  Quakers  understanding  of the experience of l i v i n g — a  o f God  sees C h r i s t  mystery the  and  F o r Cuthman, i n  sky.  together  I t probes  the  when, i n t h e f u l l e s t moment  c a r p e n t e r and h e a r s h i s v o i c e  "on memory w i t h open w i n g s . " Too  combination  s e n s a t i o n i s the working  i n d i v i s i b l e as r o o t  Chromis i n A Phoenix ing  a  i n common i s t h e v a l u e o f b e i n g a b l e t o p e r c e i v e i n  in  of  other, u n t i l  o f commonplaces.  wonder, a s i f f o r t h e f i r s t  The  sees the world w i t h  Frequent  (p. 39)  For  Tegeus  the sensation i s of f e e l -  "as t h e g o d s f e e l . " I was b o r n e n t i r e l y For t h i s reason. I was b o r n t o f i l l a gap I n t h e w o r l d ' s e x p e r i e n c e , w h i c h had n e v e r known C h r o m i s l o v i n g Dynamene. (p. 28) Can we be made o f d u s t a s t h e y t e l l u s ? What.' d u s t w i t h d u s t r e l e a s i n g s u c h a l i g h t And s u c h an a p p a r i t i o n o f t h e w o r l d W i t h i n one body. . . . (p. 32)  Thomas M e n d i p ' s v i s i o n "five-foot "As  s i x of wavering  inevitable  loath  i s o f a commonplace woman,  as o r i g i n a l  l i g h t . " ( p . 89) s i n , " and  one  t o f o r g o . . ./Even f o r t h e s a k e  death."  ( p . 97)  She  that  o f my  Jennet—  is a  vision  "I s h a l l  be  ultimate friendly  To t h e Duke o f A l t a i r , t h e s e n s a t i o n i s o f  t h e autumn o f h i s age,  but  just  as  dazzling.  73 In the name of e x i s t e n c e I ' l l be happy f o r myself. Why, . . . how marvellous i t i s t o moulder (p. 98) What a r i c h world  of s e n s a t i o n t o  (p. 99)  What i n f i n i t e v a r i e t y of being, R i c h a r d Gettner  achieve, '  sees r e a l i t y c a l l i n g "forjther'sound of great  s p i r i t s " and t e l l i n g him t h a t the value he p l a c e d on h i s l i f e i s "simply what any l i f e may go.  mean."  And  own  so the moments  For Moses, a v i s i o n of l i f e and d e s t i n y i s e x e m p l i f i e d  by the s t r u g g l e s of Egypt and sees C h r i s t i a n i t y o f f e r him  I s r a e l i n The  Firstborn.  and h i s people a welcome t o  c r e a t i o n i n Thor With Angels.  In A Sleep Of P r i s o n e r s each  s o l d i e r l i v e s through the dream of u n i t y , w h i l e imparts  Cymen  Curtmantle  a p e r s p e c t i v e of Henry's t r a g i c h i s t o r y t o the  audience. CURTMANTLE In Curtmantle, F r y ' s most r e c e n t play, c e r t a i n elements t h a t have appeared i n p r e v i o u s p l a y s are l o c a l i s e d by a f a r more s p e c i f i c s e r i e s of h i s t o r i c a l f a c t s .  Henry has  a  c h a r a c t e r f a r more complex than t h a t of Moses or S e t i i n The  F i r s t b o r n — t h e only other p l a y i n which F r y ' s sense of  comedy does not take over from the t r a g i c experience Likewise the events and f a c t s of Henry's l i f e i n the p l a y are f a r more numerous. to  i n The  man.  incorporated  Yet the p l a y goes through  the t r a g i c concepts t h a t are as e l u s i v e but as  as those  of  Dark Is L i g h t Enough.  definite  There are two  one towards a p o r t r a i t of Henry t h a t searches  themes,  for his reality,  74 and the other o f the i n t e r p l a y o f d i f f e r e n t laws:  civil,  canon, moral, a e s t h e t i c , and the laws o f God; and how they in  belong and do not belong t o each other. comes a f a m i l i a r "angle of e x p e r i e n c e . "  Through them The p l a y , i n  s e a r c h i n g f o r the r e a l i t y of Henry's c h a r a c t e r , i s r e s o l v e d i n tragedy with t h e c l o s e "He was dead when they came t o him." condition.  Henry i s not granted i n s i g h t i n t o h i s own  But the f o r c e and l i f e  i n him belongs t o a  wider k i n d o f being, r a t h e r l i k e t h e a b s o r p t i o n o f S e t i ' s and Moses' c h a r a c t e r s i n t o t h e l a r g e r c o n f l i c t beyond them and t h e i r u n d e r s t a n d i n g — t h a t o f warring n a t i o n a l i s m s . Henry's t r a g i c f a t e t o move through l i f e  It i s  c r e a t i n g law and  order out of darkness and y e t he goes t o h i s end watching i t all  crumble round him.  E l e a n o r and h i s f a m i l y f o r s a k e him,  antagonised, t a k i n g lands and r u l e . his  achievements  P o l i t i c a l l y they  lower  f u r t h e r by a l l i a n c e a g a i n s t him w i t h France.  He a l i e n a t e s h i m s e l f from the Church by t h e murder of Becket. His  ending i s i n the same darkness he came from and h i s k i n g -  ship i s nothing.  In the f a c e o f death t h e f o r c e s of l i f e and  c h a r a c t e r i n him disappear l e a v i n g a body, l i k e any o t h e r , t h a t i s s t r i p p e d by t h e need and poverty of h i s own p e o p l e — the demands and elements  o f l i f e t h a t he fought t o curb and  r e s t r a i n by e n f o r c i n g law and o r d e r .  H i s l i f e was the f i g h t ,  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , Curtmantle (London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1961), v i i i - i x . A l l f u r t h e r quotes from t h i s p l a y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d by page number i n the t e x t .  75 c l a s h , and t e n s i o n o f a p e r s o n a l i t y moving w i t h i n t h e environs of t i t l e  and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .  W i l l i a m M a r s h a l l , whose r e m i n i s c e n c e  Throughout t h e p l a y t h i s i s , seems t o  q u e s t i o n t h i s l i f e i n p i n n i n g t h e c h a r a c t e r and a c c o m p l i s h ments o f Henry a g a i n s t t h e backdrop o f t h e t i m e s , which were as l a w l e s s as c r e a t i o n , but which were t h e t a b l e a u o f Henry's a t t e m p t s a t l a w and h i s own l a w l e s s n e s s .  This play  i s f a r c l e a r e r about t h e phenomenon o f man t h a n i s The F i r s t b o r n , because Henry's c h a r a c t e r i s p l a c e d i n f a r g r e a t e r d e t a i l and r e l i e f w i t h i n t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e permanent c o n d i t i o n o f man.  F r y ' s sense o f man's t r a g e d y  i s i n t h i s p l a y t h e overemphasis o f m a t e r i a l and a u t h o r i t a r i a n concerns. his  flaw.  race.  Henry i s t o o much o f a hero and t h i s i s  He i s not content t o be one man and not t h e human  He c o n t r a d i c t s man's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o accept  s e e k i n g t o impose h i s own m o r a l s t a n d a r d s  on i t .  life  A l l that  remains o f Henry i s t h e meaning o f h i s l i f e i n W i l l i a m M a r s h a l l ' s mind, w h i l e t h e f a c t s belong t o t i m e , and h i s l i f e belongs t o t h e u n i v e r s e .  But Henry spent h i s whole  working against t h i s very formlessness  life  and l o s s o f t h e sense  of b e i n g . F r y ' s sense o f t r a g e d y and t h e t r a g i c e x p e r i e n c e t h r o u g h o u t t h e memory o f Henry's l i f e .  H i s tragedy  about by h i s complete m i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f l i f e . of p e r s p e c t i v e i s wrong.  Richard Gettner took h i s  echoes  i s brought  H i s sense perspec-  t i v e o f l i f e f r o m h i m s e l f , i n s t e a d o f g e t t i n g a l o o k a t him-  76 s e l f through l i f e .  Moses d i d t h e same i n r e p r e s e n t i n g I s r a e l ,  o n l y t o l e a r n t h r o u g h b i t t e r e x p e r i e n c e what G e t t n e r had ceived i n enlightenment.  per-  Henry does not even l e a r n what  e x p e r i e n c e has t o show him, f o r he f i g h t s i t every i n c h of t h e way.  He i s a g r e a t man  i n s p i t e of the circumstances,  whereas Moses was a g r e a t man  because o f t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s .  He equates h i m s e l f and t h e young p r i n c e s w i t h t h e  Plantagenet  cause, w i t h o u t r e a l i s i n g t h a t what i s best f o r t h e c o u n t r y i s not what he sees as best f o r i t i n t h e P l a n t a g e n e t s . puts k i n g s h i p and r o y a l t y b e f o r e t h e c o u n t r y ' s Because t h e G a l l i n g and The power I Can t h i s be  He  cause.  N o t h i n g but good, v o i c e of P l a n t a g e n e t i s one v o i c e , answering a l o n g t h e same r o a d . g i v e them i s t r u s t and a f f e c t i o n . i l l spent? (pp. 55-56)  How  As a r e s u l t o f t h i s l a c k o f p e r s p e c t i v e Henry's s t r u g g l e s f o r o r d e r reduce h i s achievements and f r u s t r a t e h i s aims i n t h e i r own anarchy so t h a t everybody t h a t s t a n d s a g a i n s t him  stands  r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e same anarchy i n l i f e , an anarchy whose conf l i c t s become p e r s o n a l squabbles i n t h e way of  freedom a g a i n s t a u t h o r i t y t h a t p l a g u e d Egypt i n The  born a l s o became a b a t t l e of p e r s o n a l i t i e s . of  t h a t the s t r u g g l e First-  The d i v i n e r i g h t  k i n g s e s t a b l i s h e d t h e l i f e of a n a t i o n as t h a t of t h e k i n g  and Henry f u r t h e r d i s t o r t s h i s own  p e r s p e c t i v e by  calling  t h e l i f e of t h a t k i n g t h a t of t h e P l a n t a g e n e t cause.  Eleanor  c h a l l e n g e s t h e f u t u r e o f t h e s t a t e i n Henry's w o r l d w i t h a reminder  of t h e w o r l d t h e y a r e a l l p a r t o f (where no l i f e  more v a l u e t h a n any o t h e r ) when she says t o  Becket  has  77 Ask y o u r s e l f where i t i s you s t a n d , s a y i n g Where i s t h e King? Look round at t h e u n r e a l i t y o f t h e l i g h t And t h e u n r e a l i t y of t h e f a c e s i n t h e l i g h t . You and he, you t o l d him would r e a c h a p l a c e Where you might not know what was b e i n g made o f you, Or u n d e r s t a n d t h e c o n c l u s i o n when i t came. (pp. 43-44) The  c o n f l i c t of t h e K i n g and t h e A r c h b i s h o p  becomes a c o n f l i c t  t h a t s p l i t s t h e f r i e n d s h i p o f Henry and B e c k e t , and  reflects  a deeper c o n f l i c t , t h a t o f t h e S t a t e and t h e Church.  This  p a r t i c u l a r squabble r e a c h e s i t s p i t c h when Henry f e e l s t h a t B r i t a i n i s t o o s m a l l t o c o n t a i n them b o t h , w h i l e wonders "who (p. 47)  Eleanor  w i l l grow l a r g e enough t o c o n t a i n t h e  island?"  She t r i e s t o warn Henry, but he i g n o r e s h e r .  Let me say t h i s t o t h e man who makes t h e w o r l d — And a l s o t o the man who makes h i m s e l f the Chruch. Consider complexity, d e l i g h t i n d i f f e r e n c e . Fear f o r God's s a k e , y o u r exact words. Do you t h i n k you can draw l i n e s on t h e l i v i n g w a t e r ? Together we might have made a w o r l d o f p r o g r e s s . Between u s , by our t h r e e v a r i a n t s of human n a t u r e , You and Becket and me, we c o u l d have been The complete r e a c h i n g f o r w a r d . . . . (p. 47) He cannot u n d e r s t a n d .  E l e a n o r ' s f i n a l remarks when Henry  makes a p r i s o n e r o f her i n her own  court describes the  signif-  i c a n c e of Henry's a c t i o n s and p r e d i c t s t h e outcome of such a rule.  But t h e y do not l e s s e n t h e t r a g e d y of Henry's f a t a l  misunderstanding. You t a k e me back t o y o u r s e l f i n the o n l y way You know, by f o r c i b l e p o s s e s s i o n , As you took y o u r own v i s i o n o f the w o r l d W i t h a b u r l y rape i n t h e d i t c h . Your hopes, t h e r e f o r e , Are born b a s t a r d s , o u t s i d e t h e laws I r e c o g n i s e . The t r u e law h i d e s l i k e t h e marrow of the bone, Feeding us i n s e c r e t . T h i s ' l e x non s c r i p t a ' may prove t o Not u n i t y but d i v e r s i t y , And t h e n who w i l l be t h e outlaw? (p. 81)  76  You, w i t h i n y o u r s e l f , Are the one raped, w a i t i n g f o r punishment. The shadows w i l l only deepen f o r you. They w i l l never lift Again, In  (p. 83)  t h i s p l a y E l e a n o r alone m a i n t a i n s a sense of p e r s p e c t i v e .  She r e c o g n i s e s "the t r u e law . . . f e e d i n g us i n s e c r e t . " She does not f i g h t Henry l i k e Becket, but submits t o the system of law and form and order i n l i f e , hazardness i s a p a r t . the to  of which a l l  The paradox of Henry's l i f e  hap-  lies in  l a w l e s s n e s s of Henry's attempts t o b r i n g law and o r d e r the anarchy of h i s t i m e s .  And t h i s anarchy l i e s i n the  s t a t e of the kingdom f o r i t i s "not nature but human nature [ t h a t ] i s c h a o t i c , s p l i t t i n g the reason away from the emotions H e r e i n l i e s the tragedy of Henry's l i f e humanity f a c e s . all  and the tragedy t h a t  I t i s a q u e s t i o n of r e a l i t i e s and t r u t h s ,  of them being shadows of the one t r u e r e a l i t y .  Human  nature i s c h a o t i c , a shadow of nature d i s t o r t e d as i t f a l l s on the broken ground of reason d i v o r c e d from emotion. p e r i e n c e i s the agent t h a t changes these forms. circumstances t h a t r e f l e c t of  Ex-  I t i s the  or d i s t o r t the image and essence  life. R i c h a r d Gettner see r e a l i t y c a l l i n g f o r t h the sound of  great s p i r i t s and mocking us w i t h a wretched human c a p a c i t y , (p.  45)  In The Dark Is L i g h t Enough he i s a t r a g i c  figure,  an unhappy f i g u r e of wretched human c a p a c i t y u n t i l the sudden 48 ^ E m i l Roy,  1 9 6 5 ) , 270/  "The Becket P l a y s , " Modern Drama (December,  79  and r o m a n t i c r e v e r s a l .  A f t e r i t the great s p i r i t of the  hero and t h e i n s i g h t o f t h e s a i n t respond t o r e a l i t y making d e a t h a r e v e l a t i o n t h a t t o F r y i s comedy.  But Henry i s f u l l  o f a wretched human c a p a c i t y t h a t mocks t h e r e a l i t y o f i t s s t r u g g l e s f o r l a w and o r d e r w i t h t h e d i s t o r t e d r e f l e c t i o n s o f i t s own l a w l e s s n e s s . The o r i g i n a l s p i r i t t h a t spoke t o e a r l y Quakers, i t t r a n s c e n d s t h e l i m i t a t i o n s o f any s e t o f r e l i g i o u s  though prin-  c i p l e s o r b e l i e f s , sees t h e t r a g e d y o f t h e human c o n d i t i o n i n man's b l i n d n e s s t o e x p e r i e n c e .  Where c i r c u m s t a n c e s  observe t h e l i g h t i t i s t h e d u t y o f t h e e n l i g h t e n e d t o educate i g n o r a n c e and t e a c h t h e p a t h o f t r u t h . H i s t o r i c a l l y t h e form of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r  spiritual  endeavour came i n t h e c o n t e x t o f a c i v i l i s a t i o n and c u l t u r e c e n t r e d on t h e t e a c h i n g s o f C h r i s t i a n i t y .  But Quakers  acknowledge t h a t t h i s s p i r i t appears i n many o t h e r ways. The humble, meek, m e r c i f u l , j u s t , p i o u s , and devout s o u l s a r e everywhere o f one r e l i g i o n ; and when death has t a k e n o f f t h e mask t h e y w i l l know one a n o t h e r , though t h e d i v e r s l i v e r i e s t h e y wear here makes them s t r a n g e r s . T h i s w o r l d i s a form; our b o d i e s a r e forms; and no v i s i b l e a c t s o f d e v o t i o n can be w i t h o u t forms. But y e t t h e l e s s form i n r e l i g i o n t h e b e t t e r , s i n c e God i s a S p i r i t ; f o r t h e more m e n t a l our w o r s h i p , t h e more adequate t o t h e n a t u r e o f God; t h e more s i l e n t , t h e more s u i t a b l e t o t h e language o f a S p i r i t . 4 9 F r y ' s p l a y s l o o k a t t h e same phenomenon, whether i t i s t h r o u g h t h e eyes o f a s a i n t who sees t h e s p i r i t o f h i s God i n t h e w o r l d he i n h a b i t s , t h r o u g h t h e eyes o f a Roman s o l d i e r ^ C h r i s t i a n Faith, section  22?.  80 and  an E p h e s i a n widcw ( o r a n  witch) the  E n g l i s h c a p t a i n and  a s l o v e s u d d e n l y l e a d s t h e m i n t o a new  eyes of a d e s e r t e r t h a t are  o l d woman, o r t h r o u g h t h e  t o the r e a l i s a t i o n that the life,  b o t h g o o d and  r e a l i t y o f h i s God  e v i l , and  t h a t i t i s not absolute  p a r t i c u l a r creed,  by To  significant  because i t s nature  is a  c o n c e r n w i t h some more b a s i c i n n e r r e a l i t y .  understanding  of patterns characters  and  in life are not  of the l i f e  In  the  o f t h i s r e a l i t y p e o p l e c e a s e t o be i n d i v i d u a l s  of unique passions  life.  and  I n s t e a d t h e y become  p e o p l e a s we  know t h e m , b u t  t h a t t h e y c a r r y w i t h i n them.  Fry's are  vehicles  Whenever t h e y move  w i t h i n t h e m t h a t s p e a k s and  Fry's v i s i o n i s of the i s the  expressions  forces resistant to i t .  speak i t i s t h i s l i f e  plays  but  of  includes a l l  or another.  not  of  opened  confined  to Fry, i n h i s plays, r e l i g i o n i s  and  through  s e l f l e s s concern  Q u a k e r s and  specific  life,  eyes of a hero t h a t are  human n a r r o w m i n d e d n e s s t o one  f o r any  supposed  opened t o a r e a l i s a t i o n  h i m s e l f t h r o u g h t h e f a i t h , t r u s t , and an  a  c o s m o s , and  s t r u g g l e o f h u m a n i t y and  acts.  t h e theme o f  i t s visions.  his  His  plays  r e j o i c e i n t h e s e v i s i o n s a s moments o f t r u t h t h a t r e s o l v e c o n t r a d i c t i o n of t h i n g s i n the p e r s p e c t i v e to l i f e ' s ity  and  plays  anatomy.  express the p r i n c i p l e s t h a t are  contemplative  i n the  man  relevance  F r y e x p r e s s e s h i s f e e l i n g s and  b e l i e v e s i n t h e w o r t h o f s u c h a way  show t h e m t o us  of t h e i r  and  patterns  of t h e i r l i v e s .  h i s p l a y s h a v e t o be  sensibil-  of l i f e .  i n v o l v e d and  His  Quakers  Fry i s a  accepted  the  as  e x p r e s s i o n s of cosmic humanity, not r e a l i s t i c t i o n s o f a s e l f - c e n t r e d human c o n d i t i o n .  interpret  APPENDIX K THE  POETIC-RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND A CONTEMPORARY FORM OF ROMANCE DRAMA IN FRY'S PLAYS  So f a r any t h o u g h t s on t h e v e r s e i n F r y ' s dramas have been obscured by t h e c o n s i d e r a t i o n s o f t h e l i t e r a r y The p o e t r y i s one o f t h e most i m p o r t a n t  content.  contributions t o  t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p F r y e s t a b l i s h e s between t h e g e n e r a l romance n a t u r e o f h i s drama and t h e a f f i r m a t i o n o f t h e m y s t e r y o f existence. way  The purpose o f t h i s appendix i s t o examine t h e  t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i s e s t a b l i s h e d , and t o g i v e some sense  o f p e r s p e c t i v e t o t h e l i t e r a r y c o n s i d e r a t i o n s o f t h e Quakerl i k e genius  i n Fry's plays.  F r y b e l o n g s t o t h e r e v i v a l o f p o e t i c drama w h i c h  first  s t a r t e d s t i r r i n g i n B r i t a i n w i t h W.B. Y e a t s a t t h e t u r n o f the nineteenth century.  As a genre i t d i d n o t show much  l i f e , o u t s i d e o f what appeared on s t a g e a t t h e Abbey  Theatre,  u n t i l t h e 1930's and t h e v e r s e p l a y s o f Auden and Isherwood. F o l l o w i n g T.S. E l i o t ' s f i r s t p l a y i n 1935,  Murder i n t h e  C a t h e d r a l , v e r s e drama was a t h r i v i n g form u n t i l t h e f i f t i e s . But, though p o e t s and p l a y w r i g h t s l i k e Stephen Spender, Norman N i c h o l s o n , R o n a l d Duncan, Anne R i d l e r , P a t r i c D i c k i n son and Donagh MacDonagh gave e v i d e n c e o f t h e i n c r e a s i n g i n t e r e s t i n p o e t i c drama, o n l y E l i o t and F r y have  achieved  any s t a t u r e i n t h i s f i e l d .  Williams  These two and C h a r l e s  d i f f e r e d c o n s i d e r a b l y from v e r s e d r a m a t i s t s as a w h o l e ,  63 because  t h e i r drama was  Eliot  also  religious.  and W i l l i a m s were b o t h c o n v e r t s t o t h e Church  E n g l a n d , a n d became p o e t s o f a r e l i g i o u s v e r g e s on t h e m y s t i c a l . ^ "  of  experience that  They f o r m u l a t e d t h i s  experience i n  t e r m s o f o r t h o d o x C h r i s t i a n f a i t h a s i n t e r p r e t e d by t h e C a t h o l i c t r a d i t i o n of the Church his  c o n v e r s i o n and H i g h Church  tan  t r a d i t i o n o f New  t h o u g h t — t h e Way ideal  E l i o t went t o  Anglicanism through the  E n g l a n d , S a n s k r i t , and I n d i a n  r o u t e , by way  contemplative.  religious  W i l l i a m s went on  o f t h e R o s i c r u c i a n s and s t u d i e s  ceremonial magic,  c a b a l i s m , alchemy  manner o f Y e a t s .  W i t h A.E.  o f C h r i s t i a n o r t h o d o x y — t h e Way  and t h e i m p l i e d b e l i e f  of  h o w e v e r , was  from  living  Affirmation  i n t h e r e l e v a n c e and d i g n i t y o f t h e  m a t e r i a l c r e a t i o n and t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f u l t i m a t e Fry,  of  W a i t e ' s books as h i s s o u r c e ,  v a g u e and t r i v i a l f a n t a s i e s o f t h e o c c u l t t o a  tradition  redemption.  b o r n a n d b r o u g h t up r e l i g i o u s ,  be-  coming a Quaker i n h i s y o u t h — c o m p l e t e l y out of t h e l i n e orthodox d o c t r i n e .  a  and t h e o c c u l t i n t h e  a n d E. U n d e r h i l l a n d m y s t i c i s m a s a c o n t a c t , he went the  Puri-  o f R e j e c t i o n and t h e M e d i e v a l M o n a s t i c  of the c l o i s t e r e d  different  of England.  These t h r e e d r a m a t i s t s s t a r t e d  p l a y w r i g h t i n g c a r e e r s i n a s i m i l a r way  of  their  as r e g a r d s form  ( c h u r c h f e s t i v a l drama s t a g e d w i t h i n a r i t u a l i s t i c ,  or  J o h n H e a t h - S t u b b s , C h a r l e s W i l l i a m s ( L o n d o n : Longmans a n d G r e e n , 1955), p. 11. A l l the biographical information i n t h i s p a r a g r a p h comes f r o m t h i s p u b l i c a t i o n , pp. 11-15.  84 f o r m a l framework), but soon went t h e i r ways t o d i s c o v e r "those images o f human e x p e r i e n c e i n which t h e d e s i r e d r e l i g i o u s d e s i g n can be so a c h i e v e d p o e t i c a l l y , t h a t what 2  i s p a l p a b l e i s p o e t i c and not r e l i g i o u s i n purpose."  But  even a t t h e b e g i n n i n g t h e c h a r a c t e r o f F r y ' s f e s t i v a l pageant, The Boy W i t h A C a r t , was v e r y d i f f e r e n t from t h i s same form i n T.S.  E l i o t ' s Murder i n t h e C a t h e d r a l and t h e  b e g i n n i n g o f C h a r l e s W i l l i a m s more mature work—Thomas Cranmer o f C a n t e r b u r y , and i t p r e c l u d e d t h e r e s t of h i s drama.  An u n s o p h i s t i c a t e d p a s t o r a l w i t h a genuine  religious  m o t i v a t i o n , i t l a c k s t h e s e n t i m e n t a l i t y and p a g e a n t r y so 3  o f t e n apparent i n E l i o t and W i l l i a m s .  The d i r e c t n e s s of  the  v i s i o n appears i n t h e d i r e c t n e s s o f t h e d i c t i o n , w h i l e  the  p o e t r y i s f e l t t h r o u g h t h e e v o c a t i o n o f t h e moods o f  nature.  I n s t e a d o f t h e s u b t l e , s o p h i s t i c a t e d , and  complex  r e l i g i o u s p a g e a n t r y o f t h e o t h e r two, i t speaks o f t h e c o u n t r y and i t s l o v e l i n e s s from t h e depths o f a l i f e a t one w i t h n a t u r e and t h e c o u n t r y s i d e , and i t s l i f e g i v e s somet h i n g o f t h a t d i r e c t v i s i o n o f God w i t h which Cuthman i s characterised.^" F r y uses p o e t r y i n h i s dramas as t h e v e h i c l e f o r h i s p o e t i c p a s s a g e s , f o r h i s w i t , puns, b a t h o s , and humorous Ibid. 2  3  John Ferguson,,. "The Boy W i t h A C a r t , " Modern Drama, V I I I (December, 1 9 6 5 ) i 288. 4  I b i d . , pp. 288 and 291.  65 but impersonal v i t u p e r a t i o n , rhapsodic with death and v i o l e n c e . rhythm and  The  l o v e , and  familiarity  value he f i n d s i n verse i s  a t e n s i o n t h a t r e a l i s m cannot achieve.  with our f e e t i n two  We  live  d i f f e r e n t worlds at the same time, he  says. I t i s t h i s t e n s i o n between two meanings which verse conveys, f a v o r i n g sometimes one, sometimes the other. The p r o s a i c or c o l l o q u i a l can be r h y t h m i c a l l y j u s t s u f f i c i e n t l y charged t o r e s o l v e i n t o the i m p l i c a t i o n of verse at a moment's n o t i c e , even halfway through a sentence, and back a g a i n , without d i s t u r b i n g the u n i t y of the speech, i n the way t h a t the s p i r i t and f l e s h work i n o u r s e l v e s without n o t i c e a b l y sawing us in half.5 Stephen Spender f e e l s t h a t Fry d a z z l e s h i m s e l f w i t h a strong sense of what can be done with words, but without a sense of the words themselves, so t h a t death and v i r t u e are a l l juxtaposed  l o v e , crime  i n j o k i n g l a n g u a g e — s o that  attempt at a c h i e v i n g a p o e t i c a l i t y of purpose t h a t the s p e c i f i c a l l y r e l i g i o u s i s l o s t . ^ i s p a r t of Fry's purpose. aware of l i f e , and  and any  replaces  But t h i s j u x t a p o s i t i o n  He uses poetry t o make us more  i n An Experience of C r i t i c s he shows t h a t  behind the image of "a man  r e e l i n g i n t o x i c a t e d w i t h words"  7 i s h i s long and  p a i n f u l labouring.  He sees words as  ornament on the meaning and not the meaning i t s e l f and  an says  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "Why V e r s e , " Playwrights on P l a y w r i g h t i n g , ed. Toby Cole (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1962J,  pp. 129-130.  ^Stephen Spender, " C h r i s t o p h e r CLXXXIV (March 24, 1950), 364.  F r y , " The  Spectator,  7  C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , An Experience of C r i t i c s Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 5 3 ) , pp. 23-24.  (New  York:  86 t h a t j u s t as comedy i s a w o r l d o f i t s own,  "so a v e r s e p l a y  i s not a p r o s e p l a y which happens t o be w r i t t e n i n v e r s e . " P o e t r y i s t h e language i n w h i c h man e x p l o r e s h i s own amazement. I t i s t h e language i n which he says heaven and e a r t h i n one word. I t i s t h e language i n which he speaks o f h i m s e l f and h i s predicament as though f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e . I t has t h e v i r t u e o f b e i n g a b l e t o say t w i c e as much as p r o s e i n h a l f t h e t i m e , and . . . i f you do not happen t o g i v e i t y o u r f u l l a t t e n t i o n , o f seeming t o say h a l f as much i n t w i c e t h e t i m e . And i f you a c c e p t my p r o p o s i t i o n t h a t r e a l i t y i s a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t from our s t a l e view o f i t , we can say t h a t p o e t r y i s t h e language o f r e a l i t y . 9 P o e t r y and t h e t o t a l s t r u c t u r e o f c h a r a c t e r , d e s c r i p t i o n , s t a g e s e t t i n g and a c t i o n a r e i n s e p a r a b l e and t o u n d e r s t a n d one i s t o u n d e r s t a n d a l l , f o r " t h e p o e t r y i s t h e a c t i o n , and t h e a c t i o n i s t h e f i g u r e of t h e poetry." ® x  F r y ' s drama b e l o n g s t o t h e r o m a n t i c comedy g e n r e , a f o r m t h a t has been n o n - e x i s t e n t s i n c e t h e t i m e s o f Shakespeare and F l e t c h e r as f a r as t h e E n g l i s h t h e a t r e i s concerned.  J.H. A d l e r ( i n "Shakespeare and C h r i s t o p h e r F r y " )  f e e l s t h a t i t i s t h e u n f a m i l i a r i t y w i t h t h i s genre t h a t  lies  b e h i n d t h e adverse c r i t i c i s m and bewilderment F r y has caused i n some c i r c l e s .  x x  M.K.  Spears' a r t i c l e "Christopher Fry  ^ I b i d . , p. 26. Q  ' C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , "How L o s t , How Amazed, How M i r a c u l o u s We A r e , " T h e a t r e A r t s (August, 1952), 73. 1 G  F r y , An E x p e r i e n c e of C r i t i c s  (New Y o r k , 1953),  p.27.  ^ E d u c a t i o n T h e a t r e J o u r n a l , I I (May, 1959), 85 and 87. F u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s t o r o m a n t i c comedy and F r y a r e a l s o cons i d e r a t i o n s d e r i v e d from t h e n a t u r e of r o m a n t i c comedy and d e f i n i t i o n s of t r a g i c o m e d y i n t h e s i x t e e n t h and s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r i e s i n E n g l a n d . Sources f o r t h i s were F.H. R i s t i n e ,  67 and the Redemption of J o y " i s a most p e r t i n e n t example of t h i s s i n c e i t speaks s p e c i f i c a l l y of f a n t a s y and romance 12 i n Fry's plays.  Spears f e e l s t h a t F r y ' s c e n t r a l weakness  is a r o m a n t i c i s m m a n i f e s t e d i n a k i n d o f ingenuous immaturi t y , i n a r e f u s a l t o accept l i m i t a t i o n s and r e s t r a i n t and t h e u n w i l l i n g n e s s t o s u b o r d i n a t e h i m s e l f t o t h e d r a m a t i c medium, (p. 43) H i s o t h e r o b j e c t i o n i s t o F r y ' s r e v e r s a l of comedy from t h e t r a d i t i o n a l r i d i c u l e of f o l l i e s and v i c e s u p h o l d i n g c i v i l i s e d norm a g a i n s t t h e i n d i v i d u a l ' s w i l f u l  departure  f r o m i t , t o a r i d i c u l e of v i r t u e and i d e a l i s m as r e a l i s m and w o r l d l y m a t e r i a l i s m , convention,  (p. 29)  cynical  He makes custom,  common sense and w o r l d l y wisdom r i d i c u l o u s , r e -  deeming j o y f r o m them and a s s o c i a t i n g i t w i t h t h e and  idealistic,  compatible  the  (p. 30)  spiritual  However, t h i s i s i n f a c t a l l v e r y  and r e l e v a n t t o F r y ' s i n t e n t i o n s .  A d l e r con-  s i d e r s i t as a n o t h e r p o i n t i n h i s argument, when he t h a t "romantic  says  comedy i s v e r y a p p r o p r i a t e f o r a v i s i o n of  t h e w o r l d t h a t i s one of j o y a c c e p t i n g a v i s i o n t i n g e d w i t h m y s t e r y and an awareness of e v i l . "  (p. 93)  The  problems  Spears sees c o n f r o n t i n g t h i s t y p e of comedy a r e  actually  E n g l i s h Tragicomedy (New Y o r k : R u s s e l l & R u s s e l l , I963) and M a d e l e i n e Doran, Endeavours of A r t (Madison, W i s c o n s i n : U n i v e r s i t y of W i s c o n s i n P r e s s , 1 9 6 4 ) , pp. 186-206. P o e t r y , L X X V I I I ( A p r i l , 1 9 5 1 ) , 2 8 - 4 3 . The argument i n t h i s paragraph comes f r o m t h i s a r t i c l e and A d l e r ' s a r t i c l e ( a l r e a d y c i t e d ) . A d l e r ' s comparisons of F r y and Shakespeare a r e a comparison t o Shakespeare's r o m a n t i c comedies e x c l u s i v e l y . Both belong t o t h e same genre. (Page r e f e r e n c e s bracketed i n t e x t . ) 1 2  83 aids that contribute to Fry's plays, therefore.  I t i s no  problem i f t h e theme has t o go beyond comedy and  tragedy  t o a t t a i n a cosmic or m y s t i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e , or i f t h e theme of our a n n u a l l i f e i s not t a k e n s e r i o u s l y , f o r t h e adds t o t h e r o m a n t i c comedy.  Nor  fantasy  i s comedy i n danger of  b e i n g t o o f r e e i n h a v i n g t o go beyond t r a g e d y and and human l i f e i f cosmic j o y i s t h e norm. p e r i l o u s about a r o m a n t i c a d m i r a t i o n  comedy  There i s n o t h i n g  f o r strangeness  and  wonder and a d e n i a l of e v i l ' s e x i s t e n c e , f o r F r y ' s most d i r e c t way how  o f s t i m u l a t i n g a f e e l i n g of "how  l o s t , how  m i r a c u l o u s we a r e " i s by d e a l i n g w i t h l i t e r a l  amazed,  miracles,  wonder, r o m a n t i c e n d i n g s , and p l o t s where c o n f l i c t i s not e x t e r n a l (and i f i t i s t h e a u d i e n c e knows t h a t i t w i l l melt away t o g i v e a h a p p i e r ending on t h e w h o l e ) .  When Spears  c o n c l u d e s w i t h a remark t h a t F r y ' s p l a y s are  "thematically  s u p e r f i c i a l i n t h a t t h e t r i u m p h i s a s s e r t e d and not  earned,"  and t h a t t h e y do not redeem j o y but a f f i r m i t , he does not seem t o r e a l i s e t h a t t h i s i s not v a l i d c r i t i c i s m at a l l . (p. 43)  W i t h a b e t t e r sense of p e r s p e c t i v e , A d l e r comments  t h a t F r y ' s r o m a n t i c comedy, l i k e Shakespeare's, has a p e r v a s i v e i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n t e n t t h a t i s d i f f i c u l t t o reduce t o a formula, ing  and which a f f i r m s w i t h o u t s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , e x i s t -  f o r t h e d e l i g h t t o be d e r i v e d from t h e a f f i r m a t i o n , (p.87) In t h e i r r e v i v a l of p o e t i c drama E l i o t and F r y were  " t r y i n g t o e s t a b l i s h v e r s e not f o r i t s own  s a k e , " but  89 13 because i t c o u l d " d e a l w i t h t h e f u n d a m e n t a l s . " It is a scheme i n w h i c h t h e p u b l i c mind can be s l o w l y r e c o n d i t i o n e d J  to  t h e mystery.  Both E l i o t and F r y s t r e s s the i d e a t h a t  f o r m i s e s s e n t i a l t o t h e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f a permanent t r u t h and t h e f o r m o f F r y ' s drama i s r o m a n t i c comedy.  Fry's  i n t e n t i o n s f i n d no problems i n b e l o n g i n g t o t h i s genre f o r both a r e c h a r a c t e r i s e d by a c e r t a i n atmosphere o f j o y o u s  life  and an escape i n t o a d e l i g h t f u l i m a g i n a r y w o r l d i n w h i c h problems a r e i l l o g i c a l , p h y s i c a l dangers u n r e a l , language h i g h l y p o e t i c and t h e people s o l i d , t r u e and g e n u i n e . ^ x  i s v e r y t h e a t r i c a l , as any tendency t o f a n t a s y i s , and, a r e s u l t , as e n t e r t a i n i n g as r o m a n t i c comedy's  It as  excitement,  s p e c t a c l e and s u r p r i s e were t o Shakespeare's and F l e t c h e r ' s audiences, f o r i f t h e t h e a t r e can h e l p us t o see o u r s e l v e s and t h e w o r l d f r e s h l y , as though we had j u s t rounded t h e c o r n e r i n t o l i f e , i t w i l l be what e n t e r t a i n m e n t s h o u l d be, a h o l i d a y w h i c h s e t s us up t o c o n t i n u e l i v i n g a t t h e t o p o f our bent.15 I b e l i e v e t h e need f o r p o e t r y i s an e s s e n t i a l p a r t of t h e human c o n d i t i o n . . . . S u r e l y t h e b u s i n e s s of t h e t h e a t r e i s t h e e x p l o r a t i o n o f t h a t n a t u r e , so t h a t t h e l i s t e n e r can perhaps be aware o f more about h i m s e l f ? 1 6 And as f o r t h e o t h e r w o r l d , o t h e r t i m e , o t h e r p l a c e s e t t i n g s of romantic  comedy,  •'Adler, op. c i t . , p.  95.  I b i d . , p. 86. 15 F r y , "How L o s t , How Amazed, How M i r a c u l o u s We A r e , " T h e a t r e A r t s (August, 1952), 73C h r i s t o p h e r F r y , " T a l k i n g o f Henry," The T w e n t i e t h C e n t u r y , CLXIX ( F e b r u a r y , 1961), 190. 1 4  l 6  90  t h e r e ' s something t o be g a i n e d by being sometimes at one remove from t o d a y — y o u can get a c l e a r e r l o o k at what you might c a l l the permanent c o n d i t i o n of man— and I can never r e a l l y see more than minor d i s t i n c t i o n s between the past and the p r e s e n t , d i f f e r e n c e s i n k i n d r a t h e r than b e i n g . The immediate t h r e a t t o l i f e was the same, b a s i c a l l y , i n the time of the Black Death. The H-bomb p r e s e n t s the same moral dilemma w i t h which man i s always being confronted.17 In t h i s t h e s i s we have seen how  a l l F r y ' s p l a y s are  p a r t s o f a whole, and t h a t as a combination of the r e l i g i o u s and pagan they have i n common the r e l i g i o u s s p i r i t  of t h e i r  author's p r e o c c u p a t i o n s w i t h t h e mystery of e x i s t e n c e . Through the c o n f l i c t s o f l i f e , death, and l o v e comes the i n n e r s t r u g g l e of b e l i e f and doubt where l i f e  i s the theme  and where u n i t y r e s o l v e s the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s t o i t i n each p l a y ' s mood.  Life i s a spirit  everywhere, exuberant through  l o v e and joy and i n s i s t e n t i n freedom and b e l i e f , and a l l Fry's plays a f f i r m t h i s l i f e .  In t h i s , we have a l s o seen  how they p a r a l l e l Quakerism, where the s p i r i t  speaks from  behind the form, where every deed f i n d s i t s p e r s p e c t i v e i n the  s p i r i t u a l l i f e , and where the s a n c t i t y of l i f e  rever-  berates i n the i n s i s t e n c e on r e s p e c t f o r l i f e , h u m a n i t a r i a n ism  and the nourishment of i n n e r l i f e on r e v e l a t i o n .  a m y s t i c a l b e l i e f i n the goodness  With  of a l l l i f e t h a t i s most  Quakerly, F r y ' s p l a y s study the metaphysics of the human c o n d i t i o n and, though he i s not a m y s t i c , h i s p l a y s t r a c e the  form of the mystery as the theme w i t h i n the p l o t  i n the p a t t e r n of i d e a s i n the mood. 1 7  I b i d . , p. 169-  And now,  and  finally,  9 1  we see t h a t t h e ideas  i n Fry's p l a y s a r e enhanced by t h e i r  dramatic form, as e n t e r t a i n i n g romance drama, and a t r a g i comic development of comedy from tragedy  (both as t h e f o r m a l  seventeenth century comic ending from t r a g i c events, and as F r y ' s cosmic i n t u i t i o n from e x p e r i e n c e ) .  This affirms the  p o e t i c - r e l i g i o u s concern w i t h t h e mystery o f c r e a t i o n i n Fry's plays.  The p a r a l l e l t o t h e Quaker p o s i t i o n i s present  here a t j u s t as fundamental a l e v e l as i t i s i n a l i t e r a r y context.  Carried t o a natural conclusion,  t h e Quakerly way  of l i f e presumes a s i m i l a r happy e n d i n g — t h e j o y o f i n s i g h t and  o f d i v i n e r e v e l a t i o n through t h e development o f i n t u i t i o n  from experience and a d i r e c t r e l i g i o u s concern w i t h t h e mystery of  creation. In t h e l i g h t  sacred and  of a l a c k . o f d i s c r i m i n a t i o n between t h e  and s e c u l a r i n l i f e , t h i s f i n a l equation of t h e p o e t i c  r e l i g i o u s experience i n F r y i s an i d e n t i f i c a t i o n  Quakerism would seem t o make and depend on.  that  From t h e i n i t i a l  separateness o f t h e o l o g y and a e s t h e t i c s t h e d i s c u s s i o n o f Quakerism and F r y has brought us t o an examination o f l i f e and  a r t and t h e common source o f t h e r e l i g i o u s and p o e t i c  experience.  That they have i n t h i s l a s t chapter  apparently  r e s o l v e d themselves i n t h e i r common d e r i v a t i o n i s not an attempt t o deny t h e d i f f e r e n c e trabween t h e r e l i g i o u s and poetic.  I t i s instead a s h i f t i n perspective.  Throughout  the t h e s i s my i n t e n t i o n has been t o l a y t h e Quaker p o s i t i o n alongside  F r y ' s , as i n Chapter I , and t o t a l k of Q u a k e r l i -  92 ness s i d e by s i d e w i t h F r y ' s p l a y s , as i n Chapter I I .  In  Chapter I I e s t a b l i s h e d t h e i r s i m i l a r n a t u r e and concerns f r o m an i n t e l l e c t u a l and l i t e r a r y p o i n t o f view.  Here, I .  have attempted t o r e t u r n t o t h e s e s i m i l a r i t i e s a t "the most fundamental p o i n t , t h e i r o r i g i n , w i t h t h e i d e a o f a r t i n t h e image o f l i f e and t h e f a c t t h a t t h e p o e t i c and r e l i g i o u s experiences are a l i k e . P o e t r y i s a l l i e d t o m y s t i c i s m ( i n t h e sense o f t h e t r u e c o n t e m p l a t i v e ) and s t a n d s t o i t i n t h e r e l a t i o n o f t h e s k e t c h t o t h e f i n a l work o f a r t . . . . I n t h e n a t u r a l o r d e r o f t h i n g s . . . i t i s an analogue o f t h e m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e which i t r e s e m b l e s and i m i t a t e s f r o m a f a r . 1 8 P o e t r y and r e l i g i o n a r e equated l i k e a r t i f i c e and e x p e r i e n c e by W i l d e r , who d e c l a r e s t h a t " t h e poet sees h i m s e l f s o l e l y as a c r a f t s m a n , " though as a man he may know t h e r e l i g i o u s 19 experience. "The r e l i g i o u s l i f e i n v o l v e s o u r t o t a l response t o t h e u n c o n d i t i o n e d , " w h i l s t " t h e a e s t h e t i c l i f e moves t o 20 ward t h e s h a p i n g o f t h e work o f a r t . "  As an a r t p o e t r y  t a k e s i t s own d i r e c t i o n though i t " t a k e s i t s b i r t h a t t h e m y s t e r i o u s s o u r c e s o f being and a f t e r i t s own f a s h i o n r e 21 v e a l s them by i t s own c r e a t i v e movement."  Therefore, i n  t h e u l t i m a t e e x p e r i e n c e t h a t animates p o e t r y t h e poet f i n d s h i m s e l f18 on r e l i g i o u s ground. Amos N. W i l d e r , Modern P o e t r y and t h e C h r i s t i a n T r a d i t i o n (New Y o r k : C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s , 1952), pp. 12 and 13. I b i d . , p. 15. 20 I b i d . , p. 3. 21 ^ Ibid. 1 9  x  93  At t h e end o f t h e s e c t i o n on The Dark I s L i g h t  Enough  (Chapter I I ) i n a q u o t a t i o n f r o m C h r i s t i a n F a i t h on t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l d i s t i n c t i o n between s a c r e d and s e c u l a r  art, a  more f r u i t f u l d i s t i n c t i o n between i n s p i r e d a r t and u n i n s p i r e d a r t i s suggested.  I n s p i r a t i o n opens t h e doors o f  r e v e l a t i o n , and, i n terms o f t h e p o e t i c  and r e l i g i o u s  e x p e r i e n c e s , i n s p i r a t i o n i s t h e common, h i g h l y source.  The terms s a c r e d and s e c u l a r  subject matter.  I believe that  personal  r e f e r merely t o  F r y t o u c h e s on such r e l i g i o u s  p o e t r y by h i s Q u a k e r l i k e concerns w i t h a way o f l i f e r e v o l v e s around v i s i o n s o f t h e mystery o f e x i s t e n c e . more, he f i r m l y b e l i e v e s as w e l l as p o e t i c  i n poetic  that Further-  e x p e r i e n c e and i n s p i r a t i o n  language and e f f e c t s as t h e t r u e means o f  g r a s p i n g and e x p r e s s i n g t h e t r u t h o f r e a l i t y and t h e s p i r i t of t h e m y s t e r y , and he uses t h e i d e a l mechanics o f romance drama t o a f f i r m both t h e j o y o u s and t h e m i r a c u l o u s i n a w o r l d o f d r a m a t i c mystery, exuberant l i f e and e x c i t i n g v i s i o n s .  APPENDIX B JLETTER FROM CHRISTOPHER FRY TO IAIN KIRKALDY-WILLIS' • ; —'^CONCERNING THIS THESIS "' ' • "  37 B L G M F I E L D R O A D  ^  / « £^  'C'ilr  IVOR'S  '  J w  r_  .  LONDON  "W 9  Aly*>M<k  '•  v^cir.^.  ^Y  f  J"-r«?7>v ^lyK»<5w- T V ? ' '  1364-  C  '  /A  "~~  t/^e. ^  -nrc(£<:>&•  if  WORKS CONSULTED 1. a.  Primary  Sources  Dramas  Fry, Christopher. The Boy W i t h A C a r t . London: F r e d e r i c k M u l l e r L t d . , 1357. F i r s t p u b l i s h e d by t h e O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s i n 1939. . Curtmantle. London: Oxford 1961. C o p y r i g h t e d 1961. . The D a r k I s L i g h t - E n o u g h . u n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1954.  University Press, London:  Oxford  _________ The L a d y s N o t F o r B u r n i n g . London: U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1963. C o p y r i g h t e d 1943. e d i t i o n 1949. 1  Oxford First  . A P h o e n i x Too F r e q u e n t . London: Oxford s i t y Press, i960. F i r s t p u b l i s h e d by H o l l i s i n 1946.  UniverCarter  > Three P l a y s . London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , I960. 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" E l e g y o f t h e F o u r t h Month, L i f e and L e t t e r s T o d a y , X X X V I I ( A p r i l , 1 9 4 3 ) , 2 3 . A poem. . "Cock i n a S h o w e r , " L o n d o n M e r c u r y No. 3 8 , A u g u s t , 1 9 3 8 , p . 3 G 7 . A poem " t o R a n t o b u s s i . " t  . 3.  " C h r i s t m a s F a i t h , " M c C a l l s , I X (December, A poem.  1 9 6 2 ) ,  . "The P l a y o f I d e a s , " New S t a t e s m a n a n d N a t i o n , XXXIX ( A p r i l 2 2 , 1 9 5 0 ) , 4 5 8 T " . "Drama i n a House o f W o r s h i p , " The New Y o r k October 1 4 , 1 9 5 1 , Sec. I I , 2 .  FT  " A u t h o r ' s S t r u g g l e , " The New Y o r k T i m e s , Sec. I I , i i i , 1 .  Times,  February  1 9 5 5 ,  "Why V e r s e , ? " P l a y w r i g h t s o n P l a y w r i g h t i n g , e d . Toby C o l e . New Y o r k : H i l l a n d Wang, 1 9 6 2 . P r e v i o u s l y i n V o g u e , CXXV ( M a r c h 1 , 1 9 5 5 ) , 1 3 6 - 1 3 7 . . " L e t t e r s t o an A c t o r P l a y i n g Hamlet," Shakespeare Survey, ed. A l l a r d y c e N i c o l l . Cambridge: a t t h e University Press,1 9 5 2 . . "How L o s t , How Amazed, How M i r a c u l o u s We A r e , " T h e a t r e A r t s , XXXVI (August, 1 9 5 2 ) , 2 7 . A l s o appeared as " P o e t r y i n t h e T h e a t r e " i n S a t u r d a y Review, XXXVI (March 2 1 , 1 9 5 3 ) , 1 8 - 1 9 . .  "Comedy," T u l a n e Drama R e v i e w , I V , i i i ( M a r c h , 77-79. F i r s t appeared i n A d e l p h i (London), X X V I I (November, 1 9 5 0 ) , 27-29. I 9 6 0 ) ,  . " R e d b r e a s t i n t h e Snow," The T w e n t i e t h C e n t u r y , CLXIX ( F e b r u a r y , 1 9 6 1 ) , 2 1 8 . A poem. . " T a l k i n g o f H e n r y , " The T w e n t i e t h C e n t u r y , C L X I X "(February, 1 9 6 1 ) , 1 8 5 - 1 9 0 . . "On K e e p i n g t h e S e n s e o f Wonder," V o g u e , "[January, 1 9 5 6 ) , 1 2 2 .  CXXVII  . 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