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University of Toronto Scarborough
Laura Jane Wey

Lec18_Nov12 Cocktail Party continuation Echoes of Alcestis in The Cocktail Party: Major Plot Details  The unexpected guest (who drinks and sings) o “Don’t go yet!” (28;30)  Edward doesn’t know about this person at all but wants him to stay  Edward wants to talk to somebody, and thinks its easier to talk to someone he doesn’t know  Blurts out important detail that he withholds from guests o “But let me tell you, that to approach the stranger/ Is to invite the unexpected…” (33) o Note that Julia, Alex and Peter, as well as Harcourt- Reilly himself, all appear as unexpected guests in 1.3 & 3  The “restoration” of the wife by the unexpected guest o Parallel of how the man comes to realize that they actually want the woman back Harcourt-Reilly as Hercules  What is in a name? o Phonetic resemblance o “Dual” nature  Double name “Harcourt-Reilly”; There is a dual nature of half god- half human  Mediates between two worlds o Offers two “ways,” represented by :the sanatorium” and the here/ “everyday life” that one “comes back” to (139-140)  he is speaking metaphorically, once someone chooses the path (sent to the sanatorium), even if they come back to the world, they are not the same people; they comes back as somebody new altogether.  - he act as a figure of someone who guide other of which path to go to  mediator of two worlds; one of the future and present o Vision of Celia’s future (174)  Celia’s death  Reilly speaks of what he has in store for her when she first met her  Reilly is portrayed like an oracle in ancient culture who can see the outcome without taking you through every step  Clear that upon first meeting Celia, he had a vision of what will happen to her in the end  Appears more-than-human at times o he has intuitive knowledge even though he doesn’t know Edward o “Work out your salvation with diligence” (126; 142)  places the speaker in a position in somehow more higher and removed from people whom he is addressing  he tells them how to go about; finding the ending that they want for themselves  Shown to have limitations o (142-145; 176) o just after Celia leaves his office o Julia is working close with Reilly (scattered, no-brain, old lady) o “Other ones” Reilly is worried about is referring to Edward and Lavinia o he is questioning whether it was right to show them the path that he’s shown Lavinia and Edward  but he had no other option o according to Julia, it is alright that Reilly doesn’t know exactly what he is saying to others  she thinks that what Reilly is responsible is to get others to think about the paths that they are taking o he does not have all the answers  he is being forgiving of his limitations o he doesn’t see Celia’s death as wasted, rather “triumphant”  he says that no one is responsible of her death How does Eliot make use of this material in his own way, what are the things that interest him that express him in this play? The Cocktail Party: Main Themes  Death o “It is a serious matter/ To bring someone back from the dead” (74)  everytime we part it is like a death and when meeting again its like a “rebirth”/ meeting someone new o Lavinia’s offer to “die to you [Edward]” so that he might “find the road back” (98-99)  Not dying in literal sense  Dying in their relationship o The “death of the spirit” feared by Edward (112)  Concept more completely developed in 67-68  “Death of the spirit”, Edward refers to as,  growing old is a reminder about the fact that you’re moving closer to death  not death of the physical body that Edward is worried about  “when you lost the desire of what you thought was most desirable”  he said it is the feeling of “feeling to be old” that he fears  it is a desire of desire; wants to be able to want something  he wish to have passion for life but now he is cold o Celia’s death (167; 168-169)  Physical death  Symbolic of something more (167)   Peter had a crush on Celia  Alex has the news of what Celia was doing before her death  Celia was captured, then seems as if she was crucified  She is spoken of being crucified, she becomes a “martyr figure”  Her body is dispersed and was “eaten up”, so there’s no more trace of her body  Edward see Celia’s life as a loss of greater cost o Death is portrayed as something human and is everywhere  Isolation/ Solitariness o Edward & Lavinia’s mutual isolation (122-123)  Reilley spe
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