Predetermination and nihilism in W. B. Yeats's theatre


  • Francisco Javier Torres Ribelles



Yeats, William Butler, Literatura irlandesa, Teatro, Determinismo, Nihilismo


This paper puts forward the hypothesis that Yeats's theatre is affected by a determinist component that governs it. This dependence is held to be the natural consequence of his desire to create a universal art, a wish that confines the writer to a limited number of themes, death and old age being the most important. The paper also argues that the determinism is positive in the early stage but that it clearly evolves towards a negative kind. In spite of the playwright's acknowledged interest in doctrines related to the occult, the necessity of a more critical analysis is also put forward. The paper goes on to suggest that underlying the negative determinism of Yeats's late period there is a nihilistic view of life, of life after death and even of the work of art. The paper concludes by arguing that the poet may have exaggerated his pose as a response to his admitted inability to change the modern world and as a means of overcoming his sense of impending annihilation.


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How to Cite

Torres Ribelles, Francisco Javier. 1992. “Predetermination and Nihilism in W. B. Yeats’s Theatre”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 5 (November):143-53.