Friendship: Perspectives From Two Modern Plays
Keywords:friendship, modern drama, Western culture, Chekhov, Ibsen
From ancient times until the nineteenth century, loyalty, trust, understanding, forbearance, and empathy were only some of the merits one expected to find as the foundation of true friendship in Western culture. For instance, Aristotle insists that friendship must be “reciprocal” and “must involve a wish for the good of the loved one as an end in itself”. Any friendship based on personal gains, whether tangible or not, would have been dismissed as false friendship. The transition from the relatively simple life of Aristotle’s time and the following centuries to the complex modern age has produced a dramatic change in the Western culture, a change that evidently encompassed the concept of friendship. Whereas the Industrial Revolution initiated a gradual change, shifting the world’s economy from an agricultural to an industrial one, the transition from friendships of ‘excellence’ to friendships of ‘utility’ and ‘pleasure’ was rather more accelerated, in the sense that what was viewed as superficial relationships became, over a short period of time, dominant in modern Western culture and recognized as manifestations of friendship. This study explores this cultural change as depicted in two modern dramas— The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov and A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.
Als, Hilton. (2005). “Kicking Up Dust”. The New Yorker. 6 / 27 / 2005. Vol. 81:18
Als, Hilton. (2016). “Estate Value”. The New Yorker. 2 / 22 / 2016, Vol. 92: 2.
Als, Hilton. (2017). “Rewind”. The New Yorker. 5 / 8 / 2017. Vol. 93:12.
Bent, Eliza. (2007). “Goodbye to All That”. American Theatre. May/June 2007. Vol. 24:5.
Bernstein, Elizabeth. (2016). “On Relationships: Why Making New Friends is Harder for Grown-ups”. Wall Street Journal, Eastern Edition. New York: 19 April 216: D.1.
Chekov, Anton. (1903). “The Cherry Orchard”. Masters of Modern Drama. Eds. Haskell M. Block and Robert G. Shedd. New York: Random House, 1962.
Cunningham, Antony. (2013). Modern Honor: A Philosophical Defense. New York: Routledge.
Geoffrey, Greif (2008). Understanding Men’s Friendship. London: Oxford University Press.
Grayling, Anthony C. (2013). Friendship. New Haven and London: Yale University Pres.
Hardin, Russel. (2002). Trust and Trustworthiness. New York: Russel Sage Foundation.
Hollinger, Karen (1998). In the Company of Women: Contemporary Female Friendship Films. London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Ibsen, Henrik. (1879). “A Doll’s House”. Types of Drama: Plays and Contexts. Eds. Sylvan Barnet et. al. New York: Longman. 7th edition, 1997.
Pangle, Lorraine Smith. (2002). Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship. London: Cambridge University Press.
Rader, Rosemary. (1983): Male/Female Friendship in Early Christian Communities. New York: Paulist Press.
Roulston, Christine. (1998). “Separating the Inseparables: Female Friendship and its Discontents in Eighteenth Century France”. Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, Winter 1998-99. (215-232).
Toner, Jules and Andrew Tallon. (2001). Love and Friendship. Marquette University Press.
Welsh, Alexander. (2008). What is Honor?: A Question of Moral Imperatives. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.