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The Chinese Taoism of Fred Faulk in Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana



This paper explores the Chinese cultural influence on the character of Fred Faulk in Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana via a comparative approach. Departing from the traditional Christian interpretations of the play and its characters, the paper argues that Tennessee Williams' creation of Fred Faulk is influenced by Chinese culture in general and by Taoism in particular. Faulk's Taoist lifestyle is an integral part of his character and helps establish the play's Taoist theme as a philosophical framework. A critical eva-luation of Faulk's character from a Taoist perspective rather than a traditional Christian approach can show how he fulfills a distinct function within the play's larger dramatic structure. Tennessee Williams shows the Chinese influence on Faulk in three ways. First, Faulk is directly influenced by his Chinese cook's philosophy of "Mei yoo guanchi," (沒有關係) or "no sweat." Second, Faulk's personality is strikingly similar to that of Hannah Jelkes, who has obviously been much influenced by Chinese philosophy and so points us to Faulk to foreshadow Hannah, who then reminds us of or points back to Faulk part of Tennessee Williams's dramatic strategy. Third, Faulk's lifestyle perfectly mirrors that of a Taoist sage and hermit such as Jiang Taigong and Chuang Tzu. The paper first establishes the clear connections between Chinese Taoism and Tennessee Williams, and then analyzes Faulk's personality via concepts of parallelism favored by American comparative literature scholars. Although Fred Faulk is an "absent" character, he is an important symbolic figure and an organic part of Tennessee Williams' Oriental theme - one which has not yet really been studied. The importance of Faulk becomes clear through an in-depth analysis of his personality and comparison with the play's main characters. As a character in absentia, it is not surprising that critics have not paid sufficient attention to him, let alone to the Chinese Taoist theme he and Hannah embody. Yet, Williams has given Faulk a unique lifestyle that not only resembles that of Hannah but that sharply contrasts with the lifestyles of his wife Maxine and his friend, the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon. Such comparisons make Tennessee Williams' own Taoist attitudes toward life as reflected in the play all the more clear.

Parallel abstracts

本文從比較文學角度來檢視中華道教文化對《鬣蜥之夜》劇中角色佛雷德.福克的影響。不同於從傳統基督教的視角來檢視福克這一人物,本文以福克受中華文化,尤其是道教影響的事實為切入點,從道教理念的視角來檢視此一人物,進而展示道教理念對全劇的重要性。田納西.威廉斯創作的福克這一人物是受了中國文化影響的,尤其是受了道家文化的影響。這一影響可從三個方面來論證:一、福克可以說是直接受到他們旅館中國廚師「沒有關係」處世哲學的影響;二、福克的性格和韓娜.基爾科斯非常相似,而韓娜顯然在中國旅行中受到中國文化影響, 而在劇中威廉斯似乎以後者影射前者, 這就間接暗示福克也受了中國文化影響;三、福克的生活方式極像道家著名隱士莊子。本文後段以美國比較文學平行理論來分析福克的性格和比較他與劇中主要人物的關係。雖然福克在劇中沒有出場,他對劇中主要人物的影響是顯而易見的,且具有重要的象徵意義。通過對福克性格進行深度分析以及對他與劇中主要人物進行比較就可以清楚地看到他在劇中的重要性, 尤其是他在中國文化主題中的重要性,而此一主題的重要性到目前為止還沒有任何評論家提到過。


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