Drama is distinct in literature in that it can be brought to life in a way the standard novel cannot. This enables authors to explore various political issues in a more vivid way. In ‘Cloud Nine’ by Caryl Churchill and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde, both authors explore ideas about gender in various ways. Churchill’s use of cross-dressing questions conventional ideas of the binary male and female sexes because it shows gender to be a construct. Wilde also inverts gender roles by showing how the main female figures exert power and control over the opposite sex. However, one could also argue that these plays do not question conventional ideas about gender as there are a lot of moments that reveal typical male or female stereotypes.
One way in which Churchill questions conventional ideas about gender is through a gender parody with cross-dressing and drag. We see from the very outset of the play that Betty is “played by a man” (1). From this moment, Churchill is trying to point to the audience that gender is a fabrication created by social standards and can be dressed up and disguised very easily, especially when it comes to men who choose to act on behalf of women and overpower them. Judith Butler points out in her article ‘Gender Trouble’ how “drag fully subverts the distinction between inner and outer psychic space and effectively mocks both the expressive model of gender and the notion of a true gender identity”. Butler examines how drag is a clever tool
While many will agree that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is critically acclaimed to be one of the most entertaining and well-liked pieces that he has written, there tends to be a discrepancy over how the characters in the play are portrayed when it comes to the importance of gender roles. After reading James C Bulman’s article over the Globe’s more recent performance of Twelfth Night and Shakespeare’s original written version, I realized that there are many ways that this famous piece has been portrayed and each has its own pros and cons.
Femininity is a concept whose attributes are contingent on the culture it is in—what one culture may consider typically feminine traits could largely vary from what another culture views as being feminine. While theater can sometimes subvert theses ideals and present women who function in ways that are not typically feminine, theater can often present idealistic representations of women who exemplify that culture’s ideals of femininity. Take, for example, the female characters in both Guan Hanqing’s Snow in Midsummer and Hroswit’s Martyrdom of the Holy Virgins. While both texts come from largely different cultural contexts—Snow in Midsummer was written in thirteenth century China for a general population whereas Martyrdom of the Holy Virgins was written in tenth century Germany as a closet drama—both texts have female protagonists whose rebellions exemplify feminine ideals of the respective cultures.
Shakespeare uses language to explore the controversial gender roles. His use of two distinctively opposing female
The first essay, “The Roles of Women in British Drama,” represents my first exposure to a new genre of literature. The essay was also one of my first formal and interpretative essays at the college level. As a woman and a student of literature, I feel a special connection to this essay’s topic of women’s roles in literature. In addition, this essay shows my “knowledge of the social, political, philosophical, and religious forces that influence authors and the people they write about” (Oral/Portfolio). After reading some of the most prominent British plays of the twentieth century, I observed a discontinuity in the roles of women in this genre. Sadly, women’s roles in literature were very similar to their role in society. During the twentieth century, women were still trying and failing to emerge out of the roles they had been cast in by a male dominated society. Even though women were almost always portrayed as inferior to men, I found a strong exception to this stereotype through the role of Thomasina. I admire Thomasina’s intelligence and wit, but I truly admire Tom Stoppard for creating this character.
The feminist school has various goals when being used to scrutinize a piece of literature. As Gillespie points out, historically texts were written by males with primarily male protagonists, and thus, the male sentiment is most dominantly expressed in many works of literature. The lessened representation of women in literature is usually confined to typical stereotypes of the historical period. This can be seen in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and this will be further explored and discussed. Through the feminist lens, women’s presence and portrayal in the play, as well as the common stereotypes about women in Shakespearean society, can be studied carefully, despite the centuries that have passed between the play’s conception and the present. Additionally, as stated in Literary Theories: A Sampling of Critical Lenses,
One might believe that honesty is one of the building blocks of a society and is what initiates trust between people; furthermore, the Victorian era was a time period in British history where rules and morals appeared to be strict. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, a nineteenth century author who was one of the most acclaimed playwrights of his day, is a play set in the Victorian time period that demonstrates how trivial telling the truth was. Different characters throughout Wilde’s play establish their dishonestly through hiding who they really are and pretending to be someone whom they are not. In an essay titled “From ‘Oscar Wilde’s Game of Being Earnest,’” Tirthankar Bose describes the characters from The Importance of Being Earnest as playing games with one another, which is a result of the deceit that was present in the play. Although the Victorian time period is a time characterized by strong morals and values, The Importance of Being Earnest proves this notion to not apply to telling the truth and ultimately questions why truth is not valued in the Victorian time period amongst other strictly upheld values. Honesty is not valued throughout the play because some of the characters felt to need to appear as if they represented the strict morals that were common throughout the time period.
This Play the Duchess of Malfi by John Webster is quit a gender striking play. In many ways are roles played my genders in the 21st century really messed with in this work. I believe that the Gender roles that we have no have became much more just and are far more equal for a woman in today's day and age. A woman is allowed to do as she pleases pretty much on her own terms. There aren't arranged marriages anymore and a brother does not have control over his siter. Webster had a very fascinating take on gender roles and how they were portrayed in his
The theme of gender is presented to the audience as dramatic irony as well, since this play was written in 1912, the play shows how women were in that certain period of time, they didn’t have as many rights, they weren’t treated equally with men, in fact they were seen to be lower than men. However in the time that this play was written which is 1945 women had a lot more rights due to the fact that when men left the country for war, which according to Mr.Birling wasn’t supposed to happen, all the women were the people who looked after the country and kept it going, women became more interdependent and the society just grew and became a lot more open minded with their thoughts. JB Priestly has tried to show the importance of women in the play as well in the play as well at some places but very indirectly, like in that part where the inspector says, “There are a lot of young women living that sort of existence in every city and big towns in this
The most prominent woman figure in this play is Linda, but the male characters in this play also give us insight into women’s roles and help feed the feminist analyses
While women are stereotyped as weak and defenseless and want to be seen as strong without being called a “dyke,” men want are stereotyped as aggressive and apathetic but, the want to be able to show emotions and vuneralbilty without being labelled a “sissy.” Feminism illustrates that people are three-dimensional complex beings and not simple underdeveloped, plotless sketches. An example of why a balanced view of feminism is needed in society is Shakespeare’s play: Hamlet. While most could argue that Hamlet is a representation of a lack of feminism for women, it is apparent that by the end of the play the women have found the “yellow brick road” of feminism and are able to exploit and defy those that had recently oppressed them at the first
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the main story told is of the battle between silliness (Feste, Maria, romance, pranks, and drama) and seriousness (Malvolio, dourness, rules, and stresses of life). One facet of this is gender – the main protagonist Viola presents as male for most of the play. Shakespeare, whether intentionally or not, has shown prime examples of projected identity based on sex, gender roles, and the power associated with each sex. These messages were revolutionary at the time, and only in recent decades are people really beginning to examine them, but Shakespeare has been known to slip messages into his works that were far ahead of his time. Shakespeare uses Viola’s identity as a character in relation to gender roles and gender itself, and Olivia’s relationship with her.
Caryl Churchill is a prolific playwright whose body of work spans several decades. Current scholarship acknowledges her contributions to both feminist theatre and twentieth century British drama. Grounded in the Women’s Movement of the 1970s, Churchill’s work primarily focuses on contemporary feminist issues. In this paper, I will be discussing a selection of Churchill’s plays from the middle of her career, Vinegar Tom (1976), Cloud Nine (1979), and Top Girls (1981) through an intersectional feminist lens.
The plays ‘Top Girls’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ are written in ways that explore the issues surrounding gender equality and gender differences. Churchill explores the ideas of a feminist utopia where the men and women live in separate spheres which are prescribed to suit the stereotypical roles of the genders. For example at this time power dressing was a real strategy used by the new breed of feminists struggling for identity in society. We learn about the relationship between women and working. However, Williams’s characters in A StreetCar Named Desire crucially succumb to the prescribed gender roles where the women are expected to be meekly obedient in a patriarchal society ruled by the opposite sex.
In a society that is so rapidly alternating by this very second, it remains a mystery to many as to what gender roles and relationships are truly apparent within current cultural backgrounds. The play ‘When One Door Closes’, written by Yaron Lifschitz and Libby McDonnell, is a production that encompasses a storyline involving Nora, Hedda Gabler and Miss Julie. The overarching objective was to place these well renowned characters in the same room and to examine the effects of doing so. Evidently, what is revealed in this play is the pure exposure of current gender roles in society that even daily individuals may not be aware of. This includes the ideology that women are now becoming dominant and that men, in this era, can potentially obtain female qualities. In order to support this concept, the lolly, underpants and male vocal scenes will be discussed.