Yeats’s poetic theatre : cosmic laws in four plays for dancers
Guan, Yuan Yuan
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This thesis argues that William Butler Yeats seeks to challenge the religious authority in Ireland during his time by dramatizing in Four Plays for Dancers a cosmic system that not only goes against Christian thought but also provides an alternative to Christian beliefs. This thesis further argues that Yeats has painstakingly encoded the highly radical and controversial ideas in his four dance plays with symbols and with unusual portrayals of mythological, historical as well as biblical figures, and subsequently placed the key to unlocking these hidden ideas in his most enigmatic work, A Vision (1937), because he knows full well that a flagrant dramatization of his radical ideas would have, no doubt, got himself into trouble with the religious authority in Ireland. This thesis will first provide a unified account of Yeats’s cosmic system as expounded in A Vision, by examining this esoteric work in relation to Yeats’s philosophical thoughts in his essays as well as in Per Amica Silentia Lunae. This thesis will then use the cosmic system in A Vision as a vital master key to “solve the mystery” (“Notes on Four Plays for Dancers” 135) in the four dance plays.