Power and Resistance: Disappointment of Socialism in Howard Brenton’s Magnificence

Ramin Farhadi, Mohammad Amin Mozaheb

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The Events of May 1968 influenced the stage of the British playwright Howard Brenton substantially. He paid much attention to the aftermaths of May 1968 in his plays to revision the strengths and pitfalls of the Events. In his play Magnificence (1973), he stages contemporary British social history under the influence of May 1968 along with the terrorist attack against then British Minister of Employment, Robert Carr, by representing a group of young socialists squatting empty houses and exchanging their socialist and idealistic ideas with one another. This study, therefore, aims to explore the way in which Brenton’s drama revisions the defeat of the socialist ideals of May 1968 Events by dramatizing lack of harmony and conflicting opinions regarding the modes of public resistance among the dissenters. The study also articulates that Brenton’s historical drama grants him a license to make use of the recent past, May 1968 and also embodied as Lenin appeared in the middle of the play, to evaluate the present and express strong disapproval of the British conservatism which has completely silenced any dissident voice in the British society. The study applies Foucauldian notions of power and discourse, as well as close reading of the play to fulfill the research objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-278
Number of pages12
JournalAthens Journal of Philology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019


  • Historical drama
  • Howard Brenton
  • May 1968
  • Michel Foucault
  • Socialism


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