In Private Lives, which senses are stimulated and do characters focus on any particular sense?

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The play is set in a time when marriage was based on love, not economics or convenience. Amanda and Elyot have fallen in love with each other again, but they are both married to other people. They are torn between staying true to their current spouses and exploring the passion that has been reignited for them.

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In this play, the main plot device that the story turns on is that Amanda and Elyot, who have been divorced for years, meet by chance and fall in love again. The main reason their emotions are reignited is their passionate chemistry for each other. Being a play set in...

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the early 20th century, this physical electricity is not portrayed with explicit sexual content, but with words and gestures. They're sensing a mutual attraction rekindling between them and Elyot says, when Amanda mentions his seeing the Taj Mahal in the moonlight during his travels, that "moonlight is cruelly deceptive" as he gazes at her face. Elyot describes how Amanda's beauty attracts him as much as ever:

"You're looking very lovely in this infernal moonlight, Amanda. Your skin is clear and cool. And your eyes are shining and you're growing lovelier and lovelier every second as I look at you. You don't hold any mystery for me darling; do you mind? There isn't a particle of you that I don't know, remember—and want."

It is clear that the sense of sight is crucial in helping the audience realize the strong mutual attraction between these lovers. But what they observe with their eyes (the moonlight plays up Amanda's beauty in Elyot's eyes) is communicated in words that refer to the sensation of touch, like "clear and cool" as he imagines touching her skin as he once did. He is describing their intimacy and reminding her of how well he knows every "particle" of her.

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The most interesting use of sensual stimuli in Private Lives by Noel Coward is the use of sound. As you think about this, it is important to remember that Coward's work was intended to be produced as live drama rather than read, and so the sounds are ones that would have affected not just the characters in the play, but also been immediately apparent to the audience. You can get some idea of the effect by watching videos of the play such as Private Lives on YouTube. The first major use of sound is when the Amanda and Elyot hear "their song" when dining with their new spouses at the hotel. As Amanda and Eliot quarrel when they are reunited, their loud voices, slaps, and the sound of objects breaking as they throw them contrast with the polite, modulated conversation of Sibyl and Victor.

Because scenic effects are limited in stage drama, Coward also has the characters describe the scenery in dialogue (such as the view from the hotel) to create visual effects.

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