Background of Study Symbolism in Sam Shepard's drama Curse of the starving class


A. Background of Study

Literature is a performance in words. It strongly holds our attention, seeming complete itself; it is not primarily regarded as a source of factual information; it offers a unique delight or satisfaction. 1 Furthermore, literature does not only have common-written characterization, but also it offers satisfaction for literature-lover. This is the reason why a reader does not only comprehend and understand the text of literary-work, but a reader is also can get the benefit from the literature if they are analyzed thoroughly, as literature has vast-sense. A reader can overcome the obstacles in his life after reading it, because, most of literary works reflects the real life in society. A literary-work is not restricted by certain rule that can shackle its space. A literary-lover can interpret sense of literary work from the science or the knowledge he or she has known before. Literature is the process of writing system of a language or we call written language. Poetry, prose, and drama are three kinds of written language; but in this research, the writer only wants to discuss the drama as one kind of it. Drama as a kind of literary work may express the author’s thinking, feeling or attitude, and wish through the language, such language is not ordinary 1 Barnet, Sylvan, Norton, Berman and William, Burton, An Introduction to Literature . USA: Little Brown and Company Inc. 1963, p. 1. language, but it contains of particular language; the language contains sign or symbol. It would be difficult to imagine someone who is not interested in communication; someone who, for one reason or another was never engaged in investigating the nature of specific message or even the nature of message in general. Such a person would be someone who had failed to ponder how children learn to use language, how pets and animals indicate their desire, how long the gap is between lightning and a thunderclap, how difficult it is to understand computer manuals, how the heart beats faster in situations of fright, how music can be shooting, how people can be placed socially and regionally by their accents, how some actors are accomplished in the theatre but unsuited to films or vice versa, how certain foods begin to smell after a period of decay, how internet search engines invariably offer barely relevant information, how tabloid newspaper are different from broadsheet one. In short, it would be a person who is not concerned with the working of signs; and the length and diversity of his relatively short list should give an indication of the impossible of such a person’ s existence. Indubitably, the nature of sings has commonly been conducted through a distorting human lens. In these instances, signs have been considered to be connected to the human capacity for language and ensuing cultural product, with the bias toward the verbal. 2 2 Paul Cobley, the Routledge Companion to Semiotics and Linguistic, London and New York: Routledge Inc. 2001, p. 3. From the list of human problem as preceded above, we understand the important of sign we used it in our daily communication or in the study of literature, such as in the study of poetry, drama and prose. Sign and symbol used in drama, are usually containing of meaning and function. This meaning and function are usually unclearly and bias. So, the drama as a kind of literary work has to express that bias to be clear. Finally, we don’t find again misinterpretation toward the meaning and function of sign or symbol. Sam Shepard was one of American dramatist who used symbols, images, and myth in his dramas. He was born Samuel Shepard Rogers in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, on 5 November 1943 to Samuel Shepard and Elaine Schook Rogers. 3 After his father left the service, he moved with his family to South Pasadena, California, where he became interested in theatre while in high school, as he said: “I hardly knew anything about the theatre-I remember once in California I went to this guy’s house who was called a beatnik by everybody in the school because he had a beard and he wore sandals…and he sort of shuffled over to me and threw this book on my lap and said, ‘Why don’t you dig this,’ you know…it was Waiting for Godot.” 4 Shepard enrolled in Mount Antonio Junior College, but stayed only one year. He was an American dramatist writing today whose evoke a new sense of space in drama, because he can transfers the values of the American society and its ideal into the emotional landscapes of his plays. 5 3 Deborah A Straub, Contemporary Authors, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1988, p. 442. 4 John MacNicholas, Dictionary of Literary Biography vol. 7: Twentieth American Dramatists , Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1981, p. 232. 5 Bonnie Marranca, Theatrewritings, United States of America: Library of Congress Catalog, 1984, p. 28. One of the reasons for Shepard’s popularity as a playwright was that his unique blend of styles-using mythical American heroes, rock and roll music, poetically unconventional language- and his ability to create vivid dreamlike images and symbols that set him apart from more traditional American playwrights. He was also famous with his plays that won more than two Obie awards and the Pulitzer Prize of Drama; which ‘Curse of starving Class’ as one of them. In drama ‘Curse of Starving Class’ Shepard used the symbol to make his plays more realistic. The use of symbol in the play was symbolizing any kind of aspect of life in the family, love, relationship, choices, images, characters of people. Based on the statements above, the writer here is trying to interpret the drama, more specifically the use of symbol in drama ‘Curse of the Starving Class .’ Therefore, the writer plans to do an analysis under the title: Symbolism in Sam Shepard’s drama “Curse of the Starving Class” .

B. Focus of the Study