The Offstage Character in Modern American Drama: Sam Shepard’s Buried Child

Najim Abdullah Hammood, Samer Dhahir Mahmood, Mohamed Ramadhan Hashim


This paper highlights and explains the impact of the offstage character, which is widely prevalent in the American drama, on the onstage characters and the audience as well. In the 20th century, American drama is marked by the loss and absence which depict the dark side of American society because of the ramifications of the two World Wars. These consequences are the major reasons behind man’s hopelessness, alienation and failure. With the great development in the field of psychology, at the hand of Sigmund Schlomo Freud in the 19th century, which paved the path for the writers to deeply burrow in the psychological issues that man suffers from in the modern and postmodern era. Consequently, writers, like Shepard, try to examine the hidden issues of their characters by dint of the offstage character in the context of a family that represents the society. These unseen characters have influential roles including; catalyst roles and the proximate cause which uncover the cause of the obliteration of American family members in the darkness of their sin. This paper also examines; the role played by the absent character in dealing with the critical issues of American society, such as the incestuous issues and the failure of the American dream.


Sam Shepard. Offstage Character. American Drama. Buried Child. American Dream

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