Dramatizing Desire in Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story

Zied Khamari


In postmodern philosophy, desire is often considered as a positive liberating force that ought not to be seized or controlled. Actually, the postmodernist thinkers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari disprove Freud’s negative perception of desire as lack and contend that desire is a dynamic energy that seeks to emancipate the subject. In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari suggest that desire should be liberated from its consideration as lack and flow freely instead. In the same vein, Jean-François Lyotard questions the validity of the Freudian assumption that desire is a negative force. In his Libidinal Economy, Lyotard focuses on the workings of libidinal intensities in the Capitalist System and claims that Capitalism is based on the exploitation of libidinal energies. Lyotard insists that the System aims at controlling the subjects through manipulating their libidinal energies and transforming them into organized arrangements. Similar to Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard believes that libidinal intensities shall be allowed to circulate freely without the intervention of the System to regulate their movements into organized structures. Briefly, Deleuze and Guattari’s as well as Lyotard’s libidinal politics attempts to destabilize the centrality of the System through the liberation of the structures and the release of libidinal intensities.


In this paper, the study of the notions of desire and libidinal politics in Albee’s play through the Deleuzo-Guattarian and the Lyotardian perceptions shall demonstrate that the playwright pictures the continuous conflict between libidinal forces, and therefore the individual will, and the American System. Through this very clash between the personal and the communal, Albee attempts to draw attention to the repressive nature of the System and the importance of the liberation of the libidinal forces and the emancipation of the oppressed subjects.


Desire, Libidinal Politics, Libidinal intensities, the Capitalist System, the American Society, Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard, Albee.

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