• History and the Political Ethos Represented on Pushkin's Stage: The Dramatic Poet and the Historian

    Miklos Mezosi (see profile)
    Russian literature, Nineteenth century, Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeevich, 1799-1837
    Item Type:
    Historical drama, Chronicle play, Aristotelean Poetics, 19th-century Russian literature, Pushkin
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    In this paper I point out how the machinery of politics is set on the stage in Pushkin’s Boris Godunov. To illustrate how the theme of politics appears and how it becomes a substantial element of the drama, I first to dwell on Shuisky, one of the key figures in the play, as well as on some minor characters. These figures are so built that through their thoughts and actions the disposition of the homo politicus can most appropriately be shown. I give a comparative analysis of a part of the dialogue between Shuisky and Vorotinsky at the beginning and a segment of the dialogue between Marina and the Pretender. I reveal the parallel traits in the construction of these two excerpts to find that this part of the dialogue between Marina and the Pretender evokes Shuisky and Vorotinsky’s scene. I show that this compositional contrivance of the poet has a special bearing upon the final interpretation of the drama. As we advance in the play, it becomes clear that this play is a drama of legitimacy. The way the individual scenes are arranged in the play reveal Pushkin’s ironic attitude toward all the characters that take part in the struggle for power which is the basic action of Boris Godunov. The pathos of these characters’ diction proves false in the mirror of the composition of the drama. In the light of the dialogue between Shuisky and Vorotinsky and the subsequent mass scenes we are no longer willing to believe in the pathos of Godunov’s speech delivered upon his coronation. Similarly, we will have doubts about everybody else’s sincerity and straightforwardness affected personally in the political game. There is only one scene in the entire play whose grandeur is not questioned. This is Grigory and Pimen’s scene in the Chudov monastery. With this scene Pushkin pays homage to the historian.
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    4 years ago
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