Representations of imprisonment and escape in the theater of Armand Salacrou
This study of Armand Salacrou's theater seeks to analyze the themes of imprisonment and escape in eight of the author's thirty-two plays, through a close reading of these texts. The introduction includes a short biography of the playwright, in order to clarify his place in twentieth-century French theater. The dissertation is divided into two sections: Part I deals with literal, i.e. physical imprisonment, as it is represented in four plays: La Terre est ronde (first performed in 1938), Le Soldat et la sorciere (1945), Les Nuits de la colere (1946) and Boulevard Durand (1961). All four of these plays have an historical background; they also have either an actual war or a conflict between opposing ideologies as part of the setting; and all four dramas contain a certain amount of violence, either on stage or off, recounted by one of the characters. Not surprisingly, three of these four plays were first performed shortly before or after World War II.
In Part II, figurative imprisonment is studied, as represented in the following plays: Atlas-Hotel (1931), Les Frenetiques (1934), Une Femme libre (1934) and L'Inconnue d'Arras (1935). Although no characters in these four dramas suffers actual imprisonment, most of the principal characters live in metaphorical traps: they are captives of philosophical and/or psychological obsessions.
The analysis of these texts discloses that a paradox is at work in the representations of imprisonment and escape: the Salacrian characters who are literally imprisoned (those in Part I, chapters 1-4) are figuratively freer than those who are not physically incarcerated, the latter being found in both Parts I and II. Inverting the two sides of the paradox, those who are the most free physically are the least free metaphysically.