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Frame of Reference

- Two plays, showing similar and different theatrical techniques but

conveying similar themes central to theatre, the search for identity and
Grounds for Comparison
- Choosing the plays farthest apart in the syllabus to show the way in
which drama has changed and stayed the same
- Greek theatre vs. very modern expressionist drama, separated by an
ocean and thousands of years.
- Family, war, violence depictions, identity, fugue structure vs.
strophe/antistrophe structure (duet vs. trio), chorus vs. Ginny,
difference between view of enemy (humanized in Elliot, vilified in
Oedipus the outside is bad, no sympathy or similarities), imagery of
nature vs. disease oh YES (garden vs. nature/plague etc), memory and
the past (theme vs. being a memory play, delving super far into the
past not good in either case), leg injuries (swollen feet mark him for
damnation vs. barbed wire keeping him out of war again but making
him famous), plot structure entirely different (beginning middle and
end linked by a logical cause and effect, each event brings the next),
peripeteia, anagnorisis, catastrophe, tone shaped by the choruses,
music (rhyming couplets and chorus vs. music for real for real),
objective truth and pursuit thereof in Oedipus vs. complex, nuanced
truth in Elliot, fate v free will all about the gods and driving a ship
through the storm in Oedipus but all about familial ties in Elliot, fated
to experience the same things their fathers experiences from the
moment they set foot on base
- Write something with tension and anticipate possible
- Though separated by an ocean and almost 2500 years, Sophocles
Oedipus and Quiara Alegra Hudes Elliot, a Soldiers Fugue, are
epitomical examples of the threads
Oedipus Notes
- Family can be viewed as the world in miniature
- ideal Aristotelian structure, with a clear temporal and logical
progression from beginning to middle to end
- Oedipus - Praying before me your branches wound in wool (145;4)
- Priest - branches wreathed (145;24)
- Priest - A blight on the fresh crops/and the rich pastures, cattle sicken
and die,/and the women die in labor (145;31-36)
- musicality because of the poetic structure of the play, not written in
prose, s

Priest - hes crowned, look,/and the laurel wreath bright with berries
Kreon Drive the corruption from the landdont nurse it in your soil
root it out! (147; 109-111)
Violence not a byproduct of the situation but a choice
o Torture used to coax information out of the shepherd Twist his
arms back.. Oedipus (176;1270)
o Raising the pins, raking them down his eyes./ And at each
stroke blood spurts from the roots,/splashing his beard, a swirl of
it, nerves and clots -/ black hail of blood pulsing, gushing down.
Messenger (179; 1413-6)
Chorus You are the first I call, daughter of Zeus/deathless Athena I
call your sister artemis,/heart of the market place enthroned in
glory,/guardian of our earth./ I call Apollo, Archer astride the
thunderheads of heaven 150-151
o Strophe: 168-190 hopeful, active, invoking
o Antistrophe: 191-227 antithesis, starts with no no, miseries, etc.
we are all dying
o Strophe: 228-244
Oedipus - Next,/if anyone knows the murderer is a stranger, a man
from alien soil, come, speak up. (151;261-4)
Oedipus Let no crops grow out of the earth for them - / shrivel their
women, kill their sons (153;308-9) the ultimate punishment,
listed first, is to cause infertility in agriculture, in line with the
importance of the garden in Elliott
Oedipus Strange responseunlawful,/unfriendly too to the state
that bred and reared you - /you withhold the word of god
unbelievably nationalism to your city state (154;367-9)
o No, theres nothing worse:/ branded a traitor in the city, a
traitor/to all of you and my good friends. Kreon (159;581-3)
worst possible scenario is being disassociated from your national
identity, no relation with the outside
Duets formed by the incredibly dualities in fate vs. free will, sight vs.
blindness, call and response style music
o So,/you mock my blindness? Let me tell you this./ You with your
precious eyes/youre blind to the corruption of your life,/to the
house you live in, those you live with Tiresias (156; 469-72)
o Blind who now has eyes, beggar who now is rich Tiresias
o Son and husband both Tiresias (158; 522)
o You,/youll see no more the pin I suffered, all the pain I caused!/
Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen,/
blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind/ from this
hour on! Blind in the darkness blind! Messenger recounting

Oedipus (179;1407-11) also caesuras mimic the hanging, look

for linguistic moment like this in Elliot
Oedipus No man will ever be rooted from the earth as brutally as
you. (157; 489) Intermingling of violence and nature, which are
totally separate in Elliot, in which the garden acts as the perfect
counterpoint to the horror and brutality of the war.
Chorus has stake, provides perspective and even influences the actions
in certain instances, like the fact that Ginny acts
Believe it, be sensible
give way, my king, I beg you!
What do you want from me, concessions?
Respect him hes been no fool in the past
and now hes strong with the oath he swears to god.
You know what youre asking?
I do. (163; 725-31)
Chorus But the heart inside me sickens, dies as the land dies
(163;739) important connection between vitality and nature
Strophe/antistrophe in Chorus (168-9;954-97)
Jocasta Its all chance,/chance rules our lives (171;1069-70)
Reversal of tones in the strophe/antistrophe in 177;1313-52, dark and
morose in the strophe and antistrophe is kinda nice
priceless glory
Messenger husband by her husband, children by her childgorgeous
parallelisms contribute to a morose musicality (179; 1383)
The most violent moment, in which Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus
uses her brooch to gouge out his eyes, is described rather than
depicted, slightly different from Elliot. Both are done after the fact, but
there is an abstract physical representation of death scenes in Elliot,
but other moments are shrouded in nature, like wrapping of barbed
wire and the vines? Thoughts fam?
Pain of wounds, pain of grief check quote (181;1458-60), two elements
to pain the physical and the PTSD
Its mine alone, my destiny I am Oedipus (181;1498)
O triple roads it all comes back, the secret/dark ravine, and the oaks
closing in/where three roads join/You drank my fathers blood, my
own blood/spilled by my own hands you still remember me?/ What
things you saw me do? Oedipus (182;1533-8)
I fathered you in the soil that gave me life. Oedipus (185;1628)
moment of free will at the end where Oedipus asks Kreon to exile him
and Kreon says Only the Gods can give you that (185;470) and then
Youll get your wish at once. (186;1672)

Elliot, a Soldiers Fugue Notes

- duality set up straight from the beginning with the settings, empty
space (jailhouse light) and garden space (teeming with life)

different in scope from Oedipus, with huge grand columns, empty

space with white underwear
Military code repetition creates a rhythm
Im a Marine. Who are you? Mami, quiero chuletas. Pasteles.
Morsilla. Barbecue Ribs. Sorullito. Macaroni salad. Sopa de fideo.
When I make it back home, you gonna make me a plate, right? A
montn of ribs. But no pigs feet. Aint no other Puerto Rican on this
earth be cookin no pigs feet. (9) importance of identity introduced
early, combination of identifying a a marine
Ginny is introduced objectively A room made of cinderblock./A
mattress lies on a cot containing thirty-six springs./ If you lie on the
mattress ,you can feel each of the thirty-six springs. / One at a time. /
As you close your eyes. / And try to sleep for the full four hours. (7)
begins as an objective third party like the chorus when they perform
their invocation to the Gods, but as Ginny interacts with the characters
she gains perspective, as does the chorus in Oedipus when they
interact with the characters. Important because it shows that in 3000
years, the idea that a compelling narrator is one that has stake in the
action has not been forgotten.
Lance Corporal Elliot Ortiz, Third Light Armored Recon Battalion First
Marine Division. Elliot (11) identity so fiercely intertwined with
being in the army, see detachment from this later when he says his
name and the TV producer or whatever wants his full title
o verbally stating your identity is something Oedipus does a lot
leave the past in the past Elliot quoting Pop (12) , which is
something Tiresius and Jocasta also encourage Oedipus to do the
same, And dont ask me about it when I get home. If I feel like tlking
about it I will but otherwise dont ask. Pop (24)
Military code./ Make no demands. / Military code. / Treat women with
respect. / Military code. / Become friends with fellow soldiers. Ginny
(13) like the anaphora of I call in the invocation of the gods creates
rhythm and musicality
Duality of war and the garden, violence and Bach (light as a feather
13), personal self and military self
Fugue at the end of act one similar to strophe/antistrophe in Oedipus,
Oedipus has contrasting tones that create a counterpoint, while the
music here is all very different: the rapper Nass Got Ur Self a Gun, a
linguistically casual version of a military cadence, and a light as a
feather Bach passacaglia played on the flute.
The descriptions of things are great juxtaposition, room made entirely
of cinderblock vs. the hot wet cold muddy Vietnam
Original garden vs. what Ginny has done to it really the only place
where it goes death life rather than life death
o It used to be abandoned. There was glass everywhere. Right
here, it was a stripped down school bus. Here, a big big pile of
old tires. (20)

o There are certain plants you only plant at night. Orchids. Plants
wth provocative shapes. Plants you want to touch. Sexy plants.
My garden is so sexy. If I was young, Id bring all the guys here
I sit out here at night, imagine romances in the spaces between
banana leaves. See myself as a teenager, in Puerto Rico, a
whole different body on these bones. Im with a boyfriend,
covered in dirt. (21) garden and nature strongly tied to
fertility and vitality, same theme in Oedipus
o If you want a taste of this ripe avocado, you got to pick if off the
tree all by yourself. Ginny (47)
humanizing the others Today this one little shrimp kept hanging
around, chasing after the tank. Looking at me with these eyes. I gave
him my crackers I was saving for idnner. I made funny faces and he
called me dinky dow. Thats Vietnamese for crazy, I guessHe inhaled
those crackers, then he smiled and hugged my leg. He was so small
he only came up to my knee. (25) also The guy says the Vietnamese
word for mother. / He has a soft voice/ Dog tags. / The wife. / The
children. / Handwriting. / A family portrait. all 3 men, (30-1)
though the war is a creature of violence, the actual depiction of it in
the play is minimal. A simple spoken Bang indicates the gunshots
the first time Elliot and Pop kill their first men.
Importance of sound: whispers, echoes, boots squishing in the end
Oedipus wishes he deafened himself too
Grandpops description of the fugues perfectly reflects
strophe/antistrophe: The fugue is like an argument. It starts in one
voice. The voice is the melody, the single solitary melodic line. The
statement. Another voice creeps up on the first one. Voice two
responds to voice one. They tangle together. They argue, they become
messy. They create dissonance Two, three, four lines clashing. (35)
Seventy four thorns dug deep into his skin. Ginny Seventy-four
barbs chew into his bone. Pop (40-1)
Maybe 41-42 language dissolution a little bit when hes injured nah
I was trying to forget, but thats how they see me now. Thats what I
am. Thats how Stephanie sees me. And the guys. (56) trying so
hard to maintain his original identity, just as Oedipus searches for his,
but both have this constructed fallacy of who they are that they must
parallelism between Pop and Elliots injuries: infected leg injuries that
are itchy and stick to gauze