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Power of Gaze and Space in Suzan-Lori Parks' THE VENUS

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2012, 25(2), pp.161-187
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yu,Sung-Yi 1

1부산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to explore how Parks illustrates the working of power as a matter of gaze and space on black female’s body and how THE VENUS differs from the typical black women. The body of the Hottentot VENUS is seen as a ‘novelty’ and ‘pleasure’ of white male spectators’ eyes and an ‘object’ of dissection of medical study. Confined to limited space like a cage, an anatomy laboratory, a museum and a court, THE VENUS is forced to admit herself as an inferior being by patriarchal system of white society. The cage is for making her body docile, the lab impairs her humanity, the court convicts THE VENUS as social ills, and the museum justifies the violence and oppression on a black woman by displaying THE VENUS’s dissected bottom and genital. Although THE VENUS seems to fail to escape from the great power of gaze and space, she tries to subvert and break it up through her own strategies like imitating the white’s attitudes and ways, or mimicking their languages. She mocks at them and reveals the ambivalence of civilized peoples toward a colored woman through ‘showing her ass’ in public. THE VENUS implies the possibility of subversion of power relationship between the white and the black and the position of the watcher and the watched as well. Consequently, THE VENUS shows how the white society uses the power of gaze and space in order to oppress a black female and how THE VENUS disturbs and subverts the control of the white. Therefore, I assert that THE VENUS is a subjective being who chooses her fate and a new type of black female who rejects to subordinate herself to the great power of gaze and space.

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