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Moments of Feminist Liberation in Theatre: Marriage and Agency in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Sophie Treadwell’s “Machinal”, and Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song

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Title: Moments of Feminist Liberation in Theatre: Marriage and Agency in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Sophie Treadwell’s “Machinal”, and Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song
Author: Baldwin, Bridget
Department: School of English and Theatre Studies
Program: English
Advisor: Ann, Wilson
Abstract: This thesis explores the connection between three feminist plays. Though written in different eras, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879), Sophie Treadwell’s “Machinal” (1928), and Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song (2003) share similar concerns about patriarchal control and the limitations of agency for women in conventional heterosexual marriages. Chapter One focuses on the leading women in each play prior to their marriages, demonstrating the social and economic conditions that compel each woman to marry. In Chapter Two, each marriage is identified as inequitable, if not abusive. Chapter Three identifies each woman’s “liberatory” moment; all three women leave their husbands. These scripts all forefront individual agency by seemingly depicting women becoming free from oppressive situations. However, I argue that each play ultimately suggests that the freedom of individual women in patriarchal societies is an impossibility: despite an escape from personal circumstances, an individual’s ability to act remains hindered by patriarchy.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10214/26665
Date: 2022-01
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