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Stoppard’s "The Invention Of Love" Essay

2729 words - 11 pages

How familiar must the audience of Stoppard’s The Invention of Love be with classical literature and with classics as a field of study? How does this affect the play’s potential audience, and why did Stoppard choose to do this?
The potential audience of the Invention of Love is limited in the first instance by the fact that it is a play for the stage. By proxy, the audience will be likely to have some knowledge of classical literature, as they will have more of a culture of theatre going. There is more of a tradition of classics amongst those that would have seen the play when it was first shown. Stoppard was a long established playwright by this time ; hence classical references will be more understood and even expected in a play about a classicist. With its star writer and subject matter the audience of the play is therefore going to be made up of a number of certain types, from Scholars, poets, and members of society that frequently use the theatres. However, Stoppard does take time to eloquently explain certain principles and scholarly¬ cruxes to a layman audience. The fact that he is a popular playwright would have also attracted the audience to attend the play. To open this play to an audience that is more interested in the writer than the subject, as well as non-classicists, Stoppard uses characters of Houseman’s life to be ignorant for the audience, so they can ask questions for them; such as, in Jacksons dual role as Loved One of Houseman and mouthpiece of the audience.
At the start of the play (first staged in 1998 ) is a good place to see how classical literature is treated, when Charon makes his reference to Aristophanes quite clear . Stoppard does not spell it out, but gives enough information to allow the audience to make an educated guess that he is referring to an ancient play. This makes it light-hearted for those who have seen the play Frogs beforehand , but for those not well-versed in the classics, they will merely understand he is referring to an ancient text. Yet you will need to be intelligent enough to follow the play in the later case. Stoppard is obviously try to engage those of the audience with a classical knowledge, by showing that he understands them and welcomes them in to a closed-off area. However, this does not make the play inaccessible to a modern audience who may have a lesser knowledge of the classics. He either builds on people’s knowledge of classical literature, while at the same time tries to introduce others to the world of classical studies. He takes the stereotype of a classical scholar to start off the play, but he presents this stereotype in a simple way so those who have no knowledge are able to understand this world. The play introduces us to modern scholars at first and then contrasted later in the play we are introduced to classics in the Victorian era. In the same dialogue, a lost play of Aeschylus is referred to and is also alluded to later, but the idea of Aeschylus is not. The play is...

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