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Patriarchal Princesses and Wicked Witches: A Feminist Reading of the Depiction of Women in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Patriarkala prinsessor och ondskefulla häxor : En feministisk läsning av kvinnoporträtten i Arthur Millers The Crucible (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Based on the Salem witch trials of 1692-1693, Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible treats a historical event that could be considered overflowing with patriarchal oppression. Despite the author’s clear disapproval of the historical cruelty, the play continuously reveals patriarchal structures and shows misogynist tendencies in its depiction of women. This essay suggests that the two main female characters Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor function as representations of binary oppositions based on the patriarchal assumption of two categories of women: the ‘bad girl’ and the ‘good girl,’ which both reinforce the idea of women as unnuanced objects rather than multifaceted subjects. By arguing that Abigail and Elizabeth represent the binary pairs ‘selfish/sacrificing’ and ‘promiscuous/frigid,’ the essay finds that the two women are depicted as ‘either/or’ and that the unnuanced portrayals result in an unsympathetic reading of them. Finally, the essay concludes that regardless if the woman is a ‘good girl’ or a ‘bad girl,’ she is socially punished or given unflattering characteristics in order not to compete with the male protagonist in terms of reader sympathy.

Abstract [sv]

Arthur Millers pjäs The Crucible skildrar häxprocesserna i Salem 1692-1693, en historisk händelse som kan anses vara genomsyrad av patriarkalt förtryck. Trots författarens uttalade förakt gentemot häxprocessernas grymhet finns det tydliga och återkommande patriarkala strukturer i den stundom misogyna pjäsen, särskilt i dess kvinnoporträtt. Denna uppsats visar hur de två kvinnliga huvudkaraktärerena Abigail Williams och Elizabeth Proctor fungerar som representationer av binära motsatser baserade på den patriarkala idén om två kategorier av kvinnor: den ’dåliga flickan’ och den ’duktiga flickan’, vilka förstärker synen på kvinnor som onyanserade objekt snarare än mångfacetterade subjekt. Genom att argumentera för hur Abigail och Elizabeth representerar de binära paren ’självisk/självuppoffrande’ och ’promiskuös/frigid’ finner denna uppsats att Abigail och Elizabeth är porträtterade som ’antingen/eller’ och att den onyanserade karaktäriseringen resulterar i en osympatisk läsning av dem. Slutligen påvisar uppsatsen att oavsett om kvinnan är en ’duktig flicka’ eller en ’dålig flicka’ blir hon socialt bestraffad eller försedd med osmickrande karaktärsdrag i syfte att inte konkurrera med den manliga protagonisten om läsarens sympati.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 26
Keywords [en]
feminist criticism, gender, Arthur Miller, binary oppositions, dichotomies, patriarchy, feminism, witch trials
Keywords [sv]
feministisk teori, kön, Arthur Miller, binära motsatser, dikotomier, patriarkat, feminism, häxprocesser
National Category
Specific Literatures Specific Literatures
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-66002DiVA, id: diva2:1178549
Subject / course
English
Educational program
Secondary Education Programme: Upper-Secondary School: English (300 ECTS credits)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-02-06 Created: 2018-01-30 Last updated: 2018-02-06Bibliographically approved

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