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The Treason and Death of Benedict Arnold A Play for a Greek Theatre   By: (1862-1933)

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In John Jay Chapman's dramatic and thought-provoking play, The Treason and Death of Benedict Arnold, readers are taken on a tantalizing journey through the complex web of emotions and motivations that led to one of the most notorious acts of betrayal in American history. Although primarily known as a poet and essayist, Chapman's ability to craft a compelling and introspective play is evident in each line of this tragic masterpiece.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolutionary War, the play delves deep into the psyche of its titular character, Benedict Arnold, allowing us a glimpse into the inner turmoil and conflicting loyalties that ultimately drove him towards treason. Chapman's portrayal of Arnold is both sympathetic and unflinching, as he humanizes a figure often seen as a mere traitor in history books. By exploring his motivations, insecurities, and desires, Chapman forces readers to confront the complexities of human nature and the difficult paths individuals traverse during tumultuous times.

One of the standout elements of the play is Chapman's masterful command of language. His dialogue is rich and poetic, effectively conveying the internal struggles of each character. Chapman's words carry weight, allowing readers to feel the tension and emotional turmoil through every line. In particular, his portrayal of Arnold's internal monologues brings a depth and intensity to the character, leaving readers enthralled and deeply engaged with his journey.

The play's setting also deserves commendation. Chapman's decision to present The Treason and Death of Benedict Arnold as a play for a Greek theatre adds an additional layer of depth and symbolism to the narrative. By incorporating classical Greek drama elements, complete with a chorus that serves as a collective voice, Chapman highlights the enduring nature of human virtues and vices, making Arnold's story universal and timeless.

Though the play focuses primarily on Benedict Arnold, it does not neglect the supporting characters whose lives were forever changed by his actions. From the vengeful patriotism of Washington to the doubt-ridden relationship of Arnold and his wife, Peggy Shippen, each character is expertly woven into the fabric of the story, adding depth to the overarching narrative.

While The Treason and Death of Benedict Arnold captivates readers with its profound exploration of treachery and its consequences, it does have a tendency to become somewhat wordy and introspective at times. Chapman's penchant for philosophical introspection can occasionally slow the pacing, requiring readers to invest time in fully comprehending the implications of each character's thoughts and motivations. However, these moments also provide the opportunity for poignant reflections on morality, loyalty, and the price of freedom.

In conclusion, John Jay Chapman's The Treason and Death of Benedict Arnold is a bold and captivating play that dives deep into the dark recesses of human nature. Through his meticulous attention to language, character development, and the unique backdrop of a Greek theater setting, Chapman offers readers a captivating exploration of Benedict Arnold's psyche and the consequences of his actions. This play serves as a reminder that even the most revered historical figures are shaped by their flaws, and that human nature is both fallible and capable of great tragedy.

First Page:

THE TREASON & DEATH

OF

BENEDICT ARNOLD

A PLAY FOR A GREEK THEATRE

BY

JOHN JAY CHAPMAN

MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY

1910

Copyright, 1911

By John Jay Chapman

CHARACTERS

BENEDICT ARNOLD.

JOSHUA SMITH.

MAJOR ANDRÉ.

MRS. ARNOLD.

WILLIAM ARNOLD, A Boy of Eight, Son to Benedict .

FATHER HUDSON.

CHORUS OF WAVES ( Men ).

CHORUS OF CLOUDS ( Women ).

CHORUS LEADER OF MEN.

CHORUS LEADER OF WOMEN.

TREASON.

DEATH.

TWO PICKETS.

A SERVANT.

SCENE

ACT I. THE SHORE OF THE HUDSON NEAR WEST POINT.

ACT II. SITTING ROOM OF BENEDICT ARNOLD IN ENGLAND IN 1801.

The Acts are Separated by a Short Vocal Intermezzo.

TREASON AND DEATH

OF BENEDICT ARNOLD

ACT I

The margin of the Hudson at West Point. Fort Putnam and the Highlands in the distance. A flag is fluttering on the fort. The orchestra represents the level of the river shore, upon which level the Chorus will enter. The characters of the drama appear on a bank or platform, slightly raised above the orchestra and Chorus. At the opening of the play Father Hudson is upon the scene. He reclines in the centre of the stage in the attitude of a river god. The nook or couch in which he rests is situated between the two levels, as it were in an angle of the river bank... Continue reading book >>




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