Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Invisible Hand in Popular CultureLiberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Paul A. Cantor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813140827

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813140827.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 21 January 2022

The Western and Western Drama

The Western and Western Drama

John Ford's The Searchers and the Oresteia

Chapter:
(p.31) 1 The Western and Western Drama
Source:
The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture
Author(s):

Paul A. Cantor

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813140827.003.0002

Chapter One uses Aeschylus’ Oresteia as background for understanding John Ford's Western The Searchers. Both works explore the thin line between civilization and barbarism, and portray characters tragically crossing it. Like Aeschylus’ tragic figures (and the Homeric heroes to which they are related), Ford's Ethan Edwards is strong, cruel, and violent. But these are precisely the qualities he needs to defend his community against the threats it faces on the frontier. Like the Greeks and barbarians in ancient literature, the cowboys and Indians in Ford's film are mirror images of each other. Ultimately, Ethan cannot fit into the domestic community he defends, and is left isolated at the end of The Searchers. Greek tragedy and Homeric epic offer the best analogies to Ford's film, with its uncompromising vision of the tension between civilization and barbarism.

Keywords:   Aeschylus, Oresteia, John Ford, Western, The Searchers, civilization and barbarism, Greek tragedy, Homeric epic

Kentucky Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .