Document Type


Date of Award



Outsiders in literature, Drama, 20th century, Strangers in literature, Noncitizens in literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Marilyn Gaddis Rose

Second Advisor

George Wellwarth

Third Advisor

Allan S. Jackson


This study deals with a prevalent modern Western character: the intruder. As the term suggests, this character interferes, interlopes, trespasses. He explicitly violates or penetrates another's private sphere, be this physical, emotional, or intellectual, and he consequently becomes involved with the person or persons upon whom or upon whose property he intrudes. This involvement is voluntary on the part of the intruder, although sometimes more accidental than it is premeditated, and it is always involuntary on the part of those, whom, for want of a better term, I shall refer to, as the “intruded upon.” “Intrusion,” indeed, seems usually to be closely associated with the use of force and violence, often with an act of aggression. “Intrude,” “intruder,” “intrusion”–act, actor, and action–it will be noted, are inherently dramatic, for they all connote action, conflict, inter-personal involvement, and change.

The intruder studied here is an outsider and a stranger. He is not known to the characters who constitute what might be called the dramatic community of a play. In most cases the origin of the “intruder” is equally unknown or obscure. In some cases, he can not even be defined in terms of his social status; he does not seem to belong to any social group, nor does he seem to practice a profession or a specific trade. Other intruders, however, can be socially identified, and others again, finally, were known to the community or individual members thereof at one particular time in the past, but under different circumstances and in different capacities.

Thus, in one way or another, the “intruder” is a newcomer: he appears suddenly on stage, seemingly from nowhere, unknown to the other participants of the drama; he thrusts himself upon them without permission or welcome and upsets the dramatic status quo. The intruder may become the center of the play, the protagonist who drives the dramatic action forward, or he may remain a secondary figure whose function is only to serve as a catalyst to bring out the inherent conflict and differences within the dramatic community upon whom he has intruded. In any case the intruder is responsible for the drama. Without him there would be no conflict or, at least, no open conflict. The importance of the intruder figure then lies not only in his own inherent qualities as a dramatic character, but also in his function in the framework of relations existing among the other characters. For the interpretation of the “intruder” it is thus imperative to analyze the intruder himself and his relation to the other dramatic figures involved in the action.

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