Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-8-1977


This is a structuralist reading of the theatrical works of Henry de Monther­lant. The genera I approach incorporates the theories of Claude Levi-Strauss, Ro land Barth es, Jean Piaget, Jean Rousset, and Leo Spitzer. Two major types of structure are examined: the interrelationship of characters and the interrelationship of ideas. Two theoretical mode Is are constructed. The first is a triadic mode I of the relationships among characters in tightly-knit communities, based upon the sociological theories of Georg Simmel and Theodore Cap low. The second is a semiotic model of the relationships between opposing ideas, based upon the carré sémiotique of A. J. Greimas.

The application of the first modeI to the plays of Montherlant resuIts in certain critical insights. It is demonstrated that in the social structures upon which Montherlant's theatre is focused, i.e., the family, the religious order, and the political group, triads of characters tend to be formed. Within each triad various coalitions are created and dissolved during the course of the play. Conflicts and coalitions, combined with the treachery of at least one of the members, eventually destroy the structure of the group.

The second model generates two possible semiotic squares, one based on sociality versus isolation, the other based on communication versus noncommunication. In the semiotic square, opposing forces are seen as parts of a unified system in movement that may be used to describe the psychological structure of the characters or the thematic structure of the work as a whole.

Document Type


Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

Jack Kolbert

Second Committee Member

Ernest Truett Book

Third Committee Member

John Bergen

Fourth Committee Member

Bernard Spolsky