Auden's Contribution to American Poetic Drama

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Auden's Verse Drama:

      Auden's first play a Charade had remarkable influence on the verse play in 1930. The Dance of death, Dog Beneath the Skin, the Ascent of F6 and the Frontier, specially his four poetic plays, which he wrote during the middle phase gave him reputation. His plays are a mixture of playful amateurishness and verbal skilfulness. This makes his plays quite entertaining and interesting. The purpose of his writing was to entertain the reader and the spectator and also to convey his idea to a broader world.

Auden's verse drama The Dance of Death was acted at the Group Theatre in 1933 and was published in the same year. Its theme presented by the Announcer is a picture of the decline of a class, how its members dream of new life but secretly desire the old, death is shown as a dancer in this play. The piece has much impact as satire.
W. H. Auden

The Dance of Death:

      Auden's verse drama The Dance of Death was acted at the Group Theatre in 1933 and was published in the same year. Its theme presented by the Announcer is a picture of the decline of a class, how its members dream of new life but secretly desire the old, death is shown as a dancer in this play. The piece has much impact as satire. In this verse drama he was drawn to Marxism all the more because it offered a strict intellectual discipline, a creed apparently untouched by religiosity.

Dog Beneath the Skin:

      His next play was Dog Beneath the Skin. It was written in 1935 in collaboration with Isherwood. It is much more a successful play. The play is a fantasy containing much satirical and comic material. It is free from vulgarity. The hero in this play who is too much an idealist is corrected by that of his companion, who has experienced the corruption and folies of the village. Journalism, medical science, religion fascism are all attacked with a joyous mixture of parody, popular songs, choruses and melodrama. Though light, the play attracts serious attention and provokes thought.

The Ascent of F6:

      Auden's next play The Ascent of F6 was published in the next year, 1936. The play is much more ambitious and much more successful. The purpose of this play is as much satiric as tragic. The theme of the play is that England is suffering from an Oedipus complex and that the noble hero of the play Ransome in seeking the consultations of the nursery rather than spiritual truth. Together with the serious allegorical theme, there are scenes of social satire which involves peers, generals, society beauties and squabbling mountaineers.

On The Frontier:

      On The Frontier is a melodrama in three Acts and was published in 1938. This play is free from the many eccentricities which mar the previous play. The play represents the satirical analysis of the causes of war which inclines the reader to pay more attention than to the passionate and desperately simplified optimism still latent in the play.

The following are the highlights of Auden's verse drama:-

(i) Auden attempted verse-drama successfully in order to entertain. More over he wanted to convey his views to a wider audience by writing the poetic plays.

(ii) The Dance of Death was acted in 1933. According to the announcer, the play presented to the audience a picture of the decline of a class, of how its member dream of a new life.

(iii) His next play Dog beneath the skin was written in collaboration with his friend Isherwood. It was a very successful play. It is a fantasy without telling satirical and comic material.

(iv) The ascent of F6 was also written in collaboration with Isherwood in 1936. It was more successful than his previous plays.

(v) On the Frontier is a melodrama in three acts published in 1938. It is highly appreciated because it is free from omit accentricities.

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