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Women's Madness in Head-Rot Holiday by Sarah Daniels

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2013, 26(3), pp.61-87
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Kyung Ran Park 1

1제주대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Head-Rot Holiday starts with a scene preparing for a Christmas party at the Penwell Special Hospital. The special hospital, however, is a euphemism for a psychiatric prison for women, who call it the ‘Head-rot Hotel’. The patients-criminals are persuaded to put on their best clothes for the Christmas disco with male inmates who are invited to join them. The play dramatizes the entangled lives of the three main characters: Dee (aged 22), Ruth (33) and Claudia (29). They are detained in this hospital for many different reasons without the limit of time. Dee has reached the end of the road and has nowhere to go. Ruth sometimes can’t remember if her life is real or part of a song. However, she hates being watched by the men who work there. Ruth refuses to be an object of voyeurism, as she is big and handled by men during her bath. Claudia, a black and a mother is too arrogant to realize her own situation and she cannot afford to raise her own children. They cannot lead their own lives and even during the Christmas party, they are forced to mingle with the male inmates from the prison. They have no freedom to enjoy their own Christmas time, when they want to throw themselves into disco. Just like the female patients, the nurses have also been driven from ‘normal’ hospitals, as they stood against the male authority of the medical institution. The play also portrays the compassion the women harbours, even though they are confined in an isolated space as insane criminals, and the contradiction of the society they belong to, which has ruined their lives. By exploring the secret world of special hospitals such as Broadmoor, Rampton and Ashworth, Daniels poses a series of “vital questions: what is treatment and how sane is it, what is therapeutic about our institutions, and how normal is it to be ‘feminine’?”(Clean). They are not independent emotionally and economically to take care of themselves and their loved ones. They are forced to be in the special hospital and thus put under the constant scrutiny of the medical institution that has traditionally been controlled mainly by males. However, these women try to embrace and support each other.

Citation status

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