The Attraction England Left Out


Author/Creator ORCID




Dance and Theatre


Bachelor's Degree

Citation of Original Publication


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During the Dance and Theatre trip to London, I had the opportunity to see the National Theatre's production of The History Boys by Alan Bennett. At the time I had been reading Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love as part of my preliminary research for my paper topic -- tracing the influence of Oscar Wilde on Stoppard's writing. Watching the production, I was struck by the similarities between the lives of these modern private school boys and A. E. Housman and his schoolmates from more than a century ago in Invention of Love. Both shows, I realized, demonstrated similar battles between the rigid morality of upper class English society and the inevitable passions that occur as a part of everyday life. This tension appeared to be based on an idealization of the ancient world as the paradigm of literary and scientific accomplishment, while omitting the references to baser realities of the time. The more I researched, the more I realized that both Stoppard and Bennett were reflecting a real paradox of English morality that existed throughout history. I found the challenge of this paper to be linking my three playwrights, not only to each other, but also to the historical circumstances they were trying to represent.