T. S. Eliot’s spiritual journey in designing the cocktail party as a drama of conversion
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In his quest for spiritual fulfillment, Thomas Stearns Eliot conducts a meticulous religious study which teaches him distinctive interpretations of human existence and their various functions that they are supposed to assume in the world. Eliot’s personal attachment to religious knowledge and his reflections of religious studies inevitably manifest themselves in his literary works; be it his dramas or poems, mostly in the forms of philosophical and psychoanalytical analysis of his characters and the detected problems observed in their relationships. The Cocktail Party, a play starting off as a drawing-room comedy soon converts to a serious analysis of human psychology and the nature of human interactions. While engaging with these particular points, the play offers possibilities to discuss several religious allusions, though dealt with subtly. Integrated with religion, characters’ attitudes towards a given situation and their final decision position them in their quest either in “hypothetical” enlightenment or in a “supposed” repetition of a vicious circle. The enforcing power behind the play is interestingly a psychiatrist, who adds dynamism and mystery to the plot and has a special task in making the play a drama of conversion. The inner conflicts of the characters which ultimately lead to a series of problems in their relationships are the main concern which causes the characters search for different solutions. Accordingly, they make their own choices to cease their inner struggles. This paper aims to explore the concept of conversion in Eliot’s The Cocktail Party with references to the playwright’s religious journey in his literary career.