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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.35 pp.55-93

The Conflict of Symbolism and the Theory of the Mask in Yeats's Early Poetry

Lee Do-Kyung


This study is an attempt to analyze Yeats’s early poetry in the light of histheory of the mask. For this purpose the writer of the present study has firstproposed to define the ‘mask’ to investigate the theory and has reached theconclusion that the ‘mask’ is a Yeatsian term for an ideal image of life which isalways opposite to the natural self or the natural world, and the theory of the maskhas three aspects?aesthetic, moral, and philosophical?according to the role of themask. The aesthetic meaning of the theory demonstrates Yeats’s argument on thenature, the source, and the touchstone of a work of art: art is the embodiment ofthe writer’s mask of life and his inner struggle between mask and life sets him tohis creative work; the quality of a work depends upon the expression of this tragicwar. And all the more important, Yeats’s strong belief in polarity of the two termsof conflict is clarified.
The study of Yeats’s early poetry in terms of his theory of the mask hasconcluded that Yeats’s early mask is the very transcendent realm which Yeats’searly symbolism proposes to evoke and the main symbols used to express this idealworld are the images of Arcadian island across the sea, rose, the Irish mythic worldand Maud Gonne; and the synthesis of Yeats’s theory of the mask and symbolismin his early poetry causes some distortions in both his theory of the mask andsymbolism. The nature of his transcendent world is conveyed not by the symbolsbut by the imperfect realities in spite of his strong belief that “divine essence” canonly be evoked by the symbols; the nature of this ideal world has also beendistorted: it is not the super reality lying beyond reality like Mallarme’s but only anideal place where all the impurities and imperfections of the real world are removed or corrected. As for the theory of the mask, polarity, the most important basis ofthe theory, has been impaired: only the value and the love of the ideal world isemphasized, whereas those of the earthly life are restrained or its weaknesses andpainfulness are stated to describe the ideal world.

예이츠 초기시의 상징주의와 마스크 이론의 갈등



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