Unacknowledged Matricide in T. S. Eliot’s The Family Reunion

Abstract

T.S. Eliot admits the two serious problems he had not solved properly: the Furies, the disruptive perspective of the play. Eliot complains that the Furies never succeed in being either Greek goddesses or modern spooks and the audience cannot decide whether to see this drama as a tragedy of the mother or the salvation of the son. After Eliot revealed he had modeled The Family Reunion on Aeschylus’s Oresteia, many critics focus on drawing parallels and fussing about the correspondent characters in each plays. Although Grover Smith provides explanation of Eumenides as ghosts personifying Harrys’ animosity toward both his mother and his wife, he does not pursue further to theorize the theme of matricide. Martha C. Carpentier seems to delve deeper into matricide, but she concluded that the resolved matricide as a transition from paganism to Christianity. In her dealing with matricide, Martha C. Carpentier dispenses with Amy (mother) to see the play as the salvation of Harry (son). Matricide has not been adequately explored in comparison with patricide, and I want to employ Melanie Klein’s object relations theory to probe into this theme and accommodate two problems Eliot faced. Klein’s theory offers a way to simultaneously take Amy and Harry into account without exclusion, and Eliot’s unsatisfactory Furies can be seen in the light of affective effects. By accommodating Eliot’s problems with Kleinian approach, I hope this essay can bring new light on Eliot’s The Family Reunion and matricide.



Author Information
Ken Chang, National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2014
Stream: Literature

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