Sergeant Musgrave's Dance Essay

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In the following essay, Thome describes Musgrave as an "Old Testament avenger" in a morality play indebted to the Elizabethan romantic and dramatic tradition.

Next to Harold Pinter, John Arden is perhaps the most respected contemporary English playwright. And this despite the fact he has made a break with realism which carries his work back in method to the Renaissance. His best known play, written in 1959 and signalling his break with kitchen sink realism, is Serjeant Musgrave's Dance. But Arden's acceptance has not been instantaneous, nor have his plays lasted long at the box office on their first run.

Musgrave, for example, lasted 28 performances, largely because its initial audiences could fathom neither its medium nor its message. The liberal spectators saw in the play a tract about pacifism which seemed to show that pacifism does not work. The conservatives saw a statement that human weakness and evil confound...

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This section contains 2,098 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Sergeant Musgrave's Dance Study Guide
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Sergeant Musgrave's Dance from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.