The Pursuit of the Impossible: Realistic Dramas of the "Northerners"

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Hwang, Tonggyu
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서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집 6(1982): 63-75
The Cherry OrchardGod-abandoned world
The playwrights we are to discuss in this essay are all "northerners." Their sense of light and darkness is
somewhat qualitatively different from that of us, the ordinary "southerners." The opening scene of The Cherry Orchard,
for instance, strikes us with its unfamiliar daylight:
LOPAHIN: The train's in, thank God. What time is it?
DUNYASHA: Nearly two o'clock. It's daylight already."
Daylight at two a.m., however, should surely not be unusual in the long summer days in
Skien, Stockholm or Moscow. I am not presenting a case for a "northern" ethos as such
that can be extracted from the climate, but just want to make a point that they belong
to the same spiritual longitude which produced Swedenborg, Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard.
They in many aspects. rejected rational approaches to the solution of human problems.
Some critics, Geoffrey Brereton for example, find the situation of Hedda Gabler, one of
the typical Scandinavian heroines, essentially identical to that of Emma Bovary;" but
Emma, her Latin counterpart, lacks the undefinably mysterious and destructive, not only
self-destructive, forces that govern Hedda's psyche.
George Steiner asserts that the works of the "northerners" form the fifth of the five
highest moments that flowered in the history, of the Western tragedy, and their tragic
vision is substantially different from the Greek, English, Spanish or French visions. As
he says later in discussing Ibsen, it is a "vision of a God-abandoned world and man's
splintered consciousness. "4) In other words, it is a world in which any thing is permitted
if man can take the responsibility of the outcome, as Dostoevsky says through Ivan Karamazov.
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College of Humanities (인문대학)English Language and Literature (영어영문학과)영학논집(English Studies)영학논집(English Studies) No.06 (1982)
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