A Study on W. B. Yeats's Purgatory
Purgatory is as much a play about the end of a historical cycle as it is apersonal story. The obvious decline of the old man’s family fortune is an image ofa ruined Ireland, its vigour spent and its thought forced in upon its own past.
The qualities that have caused Purgatory to be one of Yeats’s most admiredplays is the condensation and compression of his material, coupled with a lucid andimmediately accessible realistic plot. The characters, actions and images are bothnatural and symbolic, moving and meaningful. The real strength of Purgatory lies inits unobtrusive poetic quality, the harmony of realistic subject matter and symbolistdesign within a lyrical composition of undoubted concentration and power.
In Purgatory, more than anything else, Yeats solved the problem of speech inverse drama, which is one of his contributions to modern drama. Instead ofcontrasting voice patterns, he unified the action with a freely varied verse form iniambic tetrameters which is admirably suited to the terse, sharp idiom of modernspeech. The most remarkable feature of this very natural verse form is its ability toreflect emotional intensification as the rising dramatic action moves through contrastand reversal to its inevitable climax.