Reflections of Bergson’s Theory on Long Day’s Journey into Night, Death of a Salesman and The Glass Menagerie

Aksu E.

3rd BELL (Bülent Ecevit University English Language and Literature) Department International Graduate Student Conference, Zonguldak, Turkey, 17 - 18 May 2018, pp.13

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Zonguldak
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.13


Throughout the history of thought, philosophers and thinkers have tried to understand and explain 'time' in their own way. Yet, the conventional concept of time -a chronometric, linear construct- had not changed much until the beginning of the twentieth century when the French philosopher Henri Bergson published his revolutionary ideas about 'time'. For Bergson, the previous thinkers' explanations of time were unacceptable since they rated time with space and divided it into three distinct units such as the past, the present and the future. Challenging this long-established belief, he asserted that the past and the present are not different entities which succeed one another linearly. Instead, the past and the present intermingle with each other according to Bergson. His attack on the traditional concept of time contributed to modern people's loss of trust in mechanistic time and paved the way for breaking the illusion of it in Europe. Later, his radical opinions reached America and enabled the American intellectuals to question their views on time. However, in America, the new time perception introduced by Bergson did more than just providing a new understanding of time, it also helped the breaking of another deception; the American Dream. Since the American Dream is closely related to the idea of progress, it can only be realized in a linear time sequence which was rejected by Bergson. Demonstrating the deficiencies of the linear time concept, Bergson's ideas also imply the meaninglessness of the American Dream. It is possible to find the marks of Bergson's duration theory in the masterpieces of the American drama. Accordingly, in this article, it is aimed to analyse Bergson's duration theory in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie investigating the characters Mary Tyrone, Willy Loman, and the three members of the Wingfield family; Amanda, Tom and Laura.