Moving out of the Attic: Susan Glaspell and the American She-Tragedy

  •  Zaid Ibrahim Ismael    
  •  Jinan Waheed Jassim    


Midwestern American dramatist Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) was one of the early voices in the American theater who explored gender issues and woman’s rights at the beginning of the twentieth century. She portrays women in distress, trying to find an outlet from the vicious circle of loneliness and abuse in which they live. Despite the fact that her characters resist oppression and degradation and try to defy the patriarchal authority that restrains them, they are often overwhelmed by this powerful male-dominated system. As a result, they grow defensive and resort to violence and murder in order to avenge themselves from the society that dehumanizes them. They ultimately fall prey to their tragic fate, not necessarily death, but psychological disintegration and incarceration. Glaspell’s tragic heroines are outsiders, living in a world that thwarts their dreams to have a free life beyond the prescribed roles and social demands of house management, domesticity, and social propriety. This study applies the feminist theory of Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, introduced in their seminal work The Madwoman in the Attic, to two of Glaspell’s major plays, namely Trifles and The Verge. It also aims at tracing the elements of the Restoration ‘she-tragedy’ in these plays to prove to what extent Glaspell is a master of this form of writing.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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