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Title:Women's madness in three major dramatic traditions: Greek, Elizabethan, and Japanese Noh
Author(s):Bainbridge, Erika Ohara
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Graves, Robert B.
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Asian
Women's Studies
Abstract:This dissertation concerns woman's madness in dramas of three different cultures: Ancient Greece, Elizabethan England, and Medieval Japan. Delineation of women's four social roles (virgin, wife, mother, and crone) is a methodological tool to analyze women's madness caused by friction between individual emotional needs and social roles ascribed by the several patriarchal systems.
Madness of virgins is connected to magical foresight, depicted differently in each dramatic tradition, and virgins are often portrayed as refusing to accept maturity. Some dramas value such virgins, while others call them mad, revealing each culture's mode of suppression.
In a patriarchal society where marriage is a tool to enlarge social power, wives are treated as objects. They can protest the social system by pursuing their own free sexual choice, and "love" often becomes synonymous with freedom. Some dramas define such women as insane, while others define as mad the world that oppresses them, and women may symbolize any socially suppressed group.
Greek drama portrays mothers who sacrifice their children for their own individual needs, while Japanese Noh highlights mothers who become deranged through the loss of their children. In Elizabethan drama, created by a transitional Machiavellian society, two types are found: dedicated mothers who cannot follow the drastic change of values in their children's minds and dominant mothers who try to participate in the male power game themselves using their children as deputies.
Western culture fears mystical aspects of crones, while Noh believes that ultimate beauty is expressed through crones. How a culture treats women when they cease being "women" is a clue to its attitude toward women in general.
Madness in drama always erupts from unhappy events but does not merely absorb deviant elements which fail to fit the ordinary structure of society. In all three dramatic traditions, madness is given a constructive role beyond its ostensible meaninglessness and harmfulness, a creative function which sanity could never perform. In Greek drama madness ensures the independence of the human mind. In Elizabethan drama it sweeps away the old decadent regime and establishes a new order. In Noh it is a pathway to religious atonement.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Bainbridge, Erika Ohara
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136535
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136535

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