Bakhtinian theory and modernist theatre? : carnival and dialogism in Shaw's Arms and the Man, Jarry's Ubu Roi and Pirandello's Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore and Enrico IV
This thesis sets itself the double task of analysing the chosen dramatic texts through Bakhtin's theories of carnival and dialogism, while at the same time debating these categories, exploring their validity, and testing their possible applications to the interpretation of modernist dramatic texts. The main body of the thesis will follow a critical path through Shaw's Arms and the Man, Pirandello's Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore, Jarry's Ubu Roi, and Pirandello's Enrico IV, highlighting the process of the debunking of conventions and ideology operated by the various texts. Shaw's Arms and the Man, the most traditional and least controversial in relation to Bakhtin's categories of interpretation, shows how they can be applied in a relatively straightforward and unproblematic way; the subsequent analysis of Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore starts to suggest some problems and flaws within the Bakhtinian conceptual framework; then, in the chapter on Ubu Roi, it will be argued that Bakhtin's theories of carnivalesque subversion become problematic when taken to such an extreme as this play seems to do. Finally, the analysis of Enrico IV attempts to show how the categories of carnival and dialogism can be observed utterly disrupting any convention or certainty about life and the self, and how therefore they have a tragic potential, to which Bakhtin himself remained blind.