Athol Fugard - Relevance of Gender

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  • Topic: Gender, Boesman and Lena, Athol Fugard
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  • Published : May 22, 2013
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university of stellenbosch|
English 378|
Athol Fugard Elective|
|
Kobus Badenhorst
16550471Prof. De Kock|
5/11/2013|

Relevance of gender in Athol Fugard’s plays|

Athol Fugard’s plays focussed primarily on the after effects of dramatic events such as apartheid, the border war and South Africa’s poverty. All though these themes such as poverty, guilt and internal struggle of characters are easily recognized in Fugard’s plays, the relevance of gender is never directly confronted as an issue of discussion. After reading most of Fugard’s plays, the reader will notice that Fugard indirectly describes the struggle of the female gender during dramatic events in his plays. Firstly the play, The Island, will be discussed. This play was written by Fugard in 1972 and first performs on 2 July 1973 at The Space in Cape Town. It is a play performed by two characters and is thus easy for the audience to not lose focus on the characters. Both Winston and John try to cope with the situation of being imprisoned at Roben Island. Both of them seem to handle it well, by trying to keep themselves busy and to see the positive out of the situation, but unfortunately Winston can not keep himself from expressing his sexual frustration in scene 3. Not only does Winston degrade the female gender by his comments on them when Winston finds out that John’s sentence is reduced, but Winston also shows the humiliation he feels by acting as Antigone. Both these scenes will be discussed to show how Fugard places emphases on the humiliation and struggle of woman. Scene two starts of by Winston having to put on a wig and fake breasts in order to play the role of Antigone in the play called The Trail of Antigone. This scene shows how humiliated Winston feels by playing the role of a woman. His anger towards John for giving him this role is shown by him telling John that “[he’s] not doing it [and that John can take] Antigone and shove it up his arse!” (Fugard, 207). It seems as if Winston is angrier at John, than the fact that he has to play the role of a woman. Winston does not actually realise that he is insulting the female gender by showing his anger towards John for doing this to him. Winston feels that by dressing himself as a lady, he “made a bloody fool of himself” (Fugard, 208). This foreshadows the disrespect which Winston and many other men had for women in the 1970’s time period. Lastly Winston tells John to “take [his] two titties [while he has he’s] balls and play Creon” (Fugard, 209). Winston does not share the same feeling as John towards the female gender, because he can not even play the role in front of John. Equality is an absent human right in this case, because the role of a woman is degraded by Winston. John tries his best to educate Winston in equality between men and woman, by John putting on the wig and breasts, but Winston only sees the humiliation. In seen three the disrespect which Winston foreshadowed for woman is final proven by Winston verbally bashing the female gender and John, to emotionally express Winston’s jealousy of John being released sooner out of jail. Winston pictures the woman’s role as a provider of sexual pleasure, thus making the woman seem as an object rather than a person. He starts of by telling John that the first thing he needs when he leaves jail is “a fuck, a really wild one!” (Fugard, 219). The role of a woman only being a source of children is an ancient perception which is still applied by some men. The fact that Winston tells John that “they’ll fix [him] up with a woman” (Fugard, 220) when John leaves jail, shows that Winston is obsessed by the idea of John having the freedom to obtain a woman. After these words, Winston starts to have an emotional breakdown by shouting at John about how John will stink like a woman’s sexual organ. The aspect of freedom and a woman is connected, because the only thing Winston symbolizes freedom with is a woman. The discrimination of a woman only...
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