19 Pages

Language and Values in Hare’s Plays

WithRobert L. King

The instrument for defining and negotiating that position is language, and David Hare’s most complex attitudes toward its usefulness are manifested through dramatic speech, delivery, and lighting. Hare’s works do not participate formally in the debate over meaning that began with the language reformers of the seventeenth century, but they often use the very terms that have framed that debate and, as a result, they challenge audiences to examine their own values. Hare’s concerns the ways in which language means are all projected through the style of Tony Ferris: the worth of moral absolutes, meaning and reality; the self as source of meaning; the limitations of literal diction; the efficacy of speech. Hare confronts with deliberately obscured uses of right and wrong as topics of argument; his common thread is the character of the speaker, but that source of rhetorical ethos can be as empty as the language people use.