We are our Heroes: Understanding Western Culture through Faust, Don Juan, and Joan of Arc
The purpose of this work is to identify and analyze patterns in three of the most popular characters in Western (Europe and the Americas) theatre history. Faust/Faustus, Don Juan, and Joan of Arc are the subjects of hundreds of plays over the course of four centuries. Because they are so popular, they must hold some significance in our understanding of Western culture. By using the works of cultural critic and scholar Camille Paglia and contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber, this thesis compares and contrasts the narratives and expressions of the characters central to these three myths. Chapter 1 introduces the works examined in this thesis as well as key concepts. Chapter 2 unites the three figures under the assertion that all humans are subject to nature, of which sexuality is an expression. It then analyzes the implications of such an assertion. Chapters 3 and 4 explore the three figures in relationship to the ‘agency v. communion’ dichotomy found in human nature as exemplified by Paglia and Wilber . Chapter 5 explores some of the implications of chapters three and four, namely the cultural significance of Joan of Arc’s androgyny, and how she exemplifies a possible answer to the challenges faced by Faust/Faustus and Don Juan.
Table of Contents
Introduction : heroes and populism -- Nature, sex, and power -- Agency and communion in Don Juan and Faust (US) -- Agency and communion balanced in Joan of Arc -- Implications of Joan of Arc's androgyny