Jessie's Quest for Autonomy through Suicide in Marsha Norman's night Mother

Seminar paper from the year 2001 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3 (A), University of Freiburg (English Seminar), course: Proseminar: Death in American Literature, 10 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: ‘night, Mother, a more recent American play, which, in form of a dialogue
between a mother and her adult daughter deals with the daughter’
desperation for missing autonomy and her decision to gain control over her
life by ending it, has met with controversial reception from critics after
winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1983. On the one hand it was celebrated as a
successful drama by a female playwright, whereas it was denied on the other
hand as betraying Feminism.
Still, in my paper this struggle will not be continued. What I am interested in
here is, how the play treats the subject of free death as a specific way of
dying. In our current society this subject arouses either greed for sensation or
it is looked upon as a taboo and the public treatment or defense of it is
normally denied. Examining the plays reception by critics it is striking that the
protagonist’s carried out death is mainly deemed positive or even compared
with a heroic deed. In the face of this debate I will examine Jessie’
desperation with her life and show, if she is in the end really successful in
reaching autonomy and a personal identity through suicide.
The first objects of my research are going to be Jessie’s current situation, her
inward state of mind and how she comes to the decision that death might
constitute a solution to her problems. The next step will be a discussion of
this decision and its justification with the help of two different works on
suicide, of which one is rather a scientific study and the other one a
philosophical treatise on the topic. Finally, I will have a look at those critiques
which are in favor of Jessie’s suicide as a positive and successful action and
put them in context with the plot of the play, which will lead to a conclusion
of what Jessie has actually reached and in how far her suicide might be seen
as a wrong reaction.
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Seitenzahl 19, (Printausgabe)
Erscheinungsdatum 30.04.2003
Sprache Englisch
EAN 9783638188739
Verlag GRIN Publishing
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