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A Comparative Study of the Similarities between Long Day’s Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman

Author LiuJin
Tutor KeJianHua
School Wuhan University of Technology
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords similarity comparative study character symbolic image commontheme
CLC I712.073
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Eugene O’Neill,"the Father of Modern American Drama", and Arthur Miller,"the American Ibsen" are considered to be the most outstanding dramatists of the20th century America. Through the tragedies of two American middle-class families, their masterpieces Long Day s Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman reveal the commonly existing familial and social plights the American ordinary people are faced with. Since their publication, the two great works have had a remarkably strong appeal to general audience and drawn increasingly provocative attention from the academics. So far, lots of thorough studies have been done on the two plays respectively from diverse aspects both at home and abroad. However, the study on their similarities is rendered in a too general way.Through detailed comparison and analysis, it can be found that the two plays share much similarities:firstly, the arrangement of characters is corresponding and the victims of tragedies are at the same time the makers; secondly, the two plays have much in common in symbols, for example, Mary’s wedding gown and Willy’s red car stand for the past happiness, while the drugs and stockings symbolize betrayal, and the two cold-blooded characters Hardy and Howard represent the ruthless America materialism; finally, the two realistic tragedies reveal the common themes:the family problems and the disillusionment with American Dream. These similarities show that the spiritual dilemma of ordinary people in relation to his family and the society is the two playwrights’common concern in modern times.This thesis aims to make a comparative study on Long Day’s Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman in attempts of exploring their similarities in characters, symbolic images and themes, helping the readers get a better understanding of the two distinguished playwrights and their masterpieces, and warning and guiding today’s Chinese people to set up the right value and establish a hannonious interpersonal relationship by disclosing the isolation, deformed values and spiritual dilemma of America ordinary people in20th century. The research is mainly a textual analysis based on parallel study. And feminist critical concepts and Freud’s psychological theory about Oedipus complex will be applied wherever appropriate.

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