Bored to death: William Inge’s women and The feminine mystique
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Ever since Robert Brustein’s review of The Dark at the Top of the Stairs in November 1958, the role of the female characters in William Inge’s plays has been of interest to a number of critics. At that time, Brustein claimed that Inge’s female characters were "men-taming women" who were castrative to their husbands. After the publication of his review, many critics followed in suit and also described Inge’s women in the same terms; however, only one of these critics, Janet Juhnke, examines the correlation between Inge’s female characters and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Junke takes issue with Brustein’s claims and disagrees with his label of the female characters are predatory, castrative wives. While Juhnke makes some good points, her analysis of Inge’s most well-known plays lacks much depth. Even Come Back, Little Sheba, which she spends the most time discussing, has not been completely explored for its connections to the trends presented in Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. In fact, a compromise between Brustein’s and Juhnke’s observations may be possible in that Friedan found that women trapped in the feminine mystique often did become castrative wives. Thus, this thesis will take a close examination of the comparisons between William Inge’s female characters and the women Friedan describes in The Feminine Mystique. It argues that these women exhibit symptoms similar to those Friedan describes: boredom, a preoccupation with sex, and unhealthy mother-child relationships.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, Dept. of English.
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 35-36)