In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews417 last two decades' theoretical developments in the first two chapters, as well as Deats' winnowing and judicious endorsements of those she favors throughout the text, the reader is surprised when tried-and-true character analysis emerges as the persistent focus of the book. In fact, many ofthe scholars she cites in the first chapters would deny the existence of character as it is used here. Sex, Gender, and Desire in the Plays ofChristopher Marlowe does demonstrate the strengths as well as the weaknesses ofDeats' approach. Readers interested primarily in Marlowe 's dramatic characters are advised to start with Chapter Three. SARA EATON North Central College Francis M. Dunn. Tragedy 's End: Closure and Innovation in Euripidean Drama. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Pp. viii + 252. $45. Tragedy 's End is an ambitious book. Dr. Dunn has set out to analyze the endings of Euripidean plays, their methods, variations, and differences from the play-endings of other tragedians, and the significance of these things to the interpretation of Euripides. Tragedy 's End provides the reader with a useful analysis of the techniques employed in the Euripidean ending. Dunn builds his argument on close and careful readings of the texts, and thorough knowledge of the secondary literature . The book is full ofthought-provoking insights into various Euripidean plays. However, the book lacks the unifying thesis it seems at the outset to promise; its chapters finally seem rather a collection of essays which explore different plays and theoretical models. The book is divided into three sections. The first collates and analyzes the set oftechniques and formal gestures Euripides uses to end his plays. The second discusses variations in the use of these end-markers in three plays. The third examines the use of variations in ending techniques in three later plays to redefine tragedy and explore new genres. The first section is the most generally useful to the scholar. Here Dunn defines and analyzes the "closing gestures" used by Euripides to signal the end of his plays. The chorus will always give the closing speech, and the last scene often employs marching anapests to move the cast offstage. The chorus' last speech is usually a universalizing gnomic moral statement. Often the chorus also speaks of departure to other places, and bids each other (and, by extension, the audience) farewell. Euripides frequently uses a deus ex machina or human equivalent (e.g. Medea) to wrap up the story, explain events or prevent further destruction . The closing scene will often include a prophecy of future events, or an aition explaining to a ritual or landmark known to the audience. Dunn distinguishes between Euripides' practices and those of Aeschylus and Sophocles, neither of whom generally use ending prophecies, aitia, or di. He argues that Euripides' multiplication of formal end- 418Comparative Drama markers, compared to the other tragedians, is a product of his differing approach to closure. Where the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles give the impression of ending when the story is naturally over, Euripides' endings seem almost arbitrary; the story has not ended, he has simply stopped telling it. Euripides' play-ends thus need to be marked formally precisely because the stories do not end "by nature" where the dramatic presentation stops. The next two sections, ofthree chapters each, are close readings of six of Euripides' plays. In his chapters on the Hippolytus, Trojan Women, and Heracles, Dunn explores the use Euripides makes of the repetition, reversal, and erasure of the end-markers he has established as the norm for his plays. The chapters on Helen, Orestes, and Phoenician Women examine Euripides' exploration or development of different genres, focusing again on his use of end-markers in these plays. These chapters are not uniformly convincing, but each rewards the reader with Dunn's subtle insights into the plays he treats. His chapter on Trojan Women, for example, points out that this play reverses the usual position of end-markers. There is no deus ex machina at the end even though Hecuba prays for one. When the cast urges each other to "look up" to the roof of the skene, a common motif when a deus appears , what they see is not a saving divinity, but...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 417-419
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.