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Tragic Bonds: Death, Disorientation, and Trauma in Euripides

Abstract

In my dissertation, I investigate close interpersonal bonds between characters in Euripidean drama as they are subjected to the pressures of trauma. In focusing on how trauma and violence shape the development of affective bonds on stage, I examine the disorientation caused by death, grief, trauma, displacement, and violence in three tragedies by Euripides: Heracles, Alcestis, and Trojan Women. By analyzing the ways in which characters re-orient themselves in the aftermath of death and trauma, my goal is to investigate the significance of uncertainty and change in Euripides, and more generally the ways in which the art form of theater operates as a medium for the discussion for these questions.In chapter one, I introduce Euripides’ dramatization of the process of disorientation. In chapter two, I analyze Euripides’ portrayal of friendship as strained by trauma and suicidal desire in the Heracles. Chapter three centers on the notion of loss in the Alcestis. In chapter four, I focus on the existential disorientations experienced by the characters in Trojan Women. In my concluding chapter, I reflect on how the theater art form uniquely exposes its spectators to change and uncertainty.

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