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Female Space and Symbolic Violence in American Women's Drama

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2010, 23(2), pp.87-107
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jung,Byung-Eon 1

1부산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay analyzes the relationship between symbolic violence and masculine domination in American Women’s Drama, and argues that Tapestry, Crimes of the Heart, and ’night, Mother enact the ways in which female characters internalize their own dominated roles or places, that is, the social order shared by the sexes in the social matrix. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic violence, this essay examines how inequitable gender relations are sustained and reproduced through social practices and structures. As a gentle, invisible, and pervasive violence, symbolic violence functions as a means of controlling the dominated social agents, while maintaining its effects through their misrecognition of legitimacy of the social order. Symbolic violence allows for further understanding of the ways in which female characters are oppressed in these plays. So embedded in the social practices and the unconscious, symbolic violence makes female characters social agents of conformity and submission. On this basis, these plays can be examined as critiques of masculine domination by means of gentle and invisible violence. Specifically, institutions such as family, school, and church function to preserve familiar ideological mechanisms that validate masculine domination, thus making female characters view social order not as something imposed by patriarchal society, but rather as a natural and legitimate way of life. This essay concludes by arguing that, despite their own limits, these plays open up possibilities for constructing female space of autonomy and liberation by delegitimizing the oppressive culture.

Citation status

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.