Jean Conway

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dorothy McMahon, James Heldman, Robert Ward

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


T.S. Eliot is a monumental figure in literature. He distinguished himself as a poet in his youth, as a critic in his middle age, and as a dramatist in his later years. Because of the vitality of Eliot’s early literary works, his dramas are frequently bypassed by critics when discussing the major themes that interested him as an artist. The purpose this study is to examine thoroughly Eliot’s position on isolation and alienation as revealed in his seven plays: Sweeney Agonistes (1926), The Rock (1934), Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Family Reunion (1939), The Cocktail Party (1949), The Confidential Clerk (1954), The Elder Statesman (1959). Only by a consideration of the whole of his dramatic writings can it be seen that the theme of total isolation and alienation which the early plays have in common with his poetry moves through intermediate solutions in the middle plays to be finally abandoned for an affirmation of human relationships in the later plays. This thesis will attempt to reveal the full pattern of the isolation motif, as well as to explore secondary elements in the dramas that directly relate to it.


Arts and Humanities | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Theatre and Performance Studies