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dc.contributor.advisorFox, Alistair
dc.contributor.authorMatthews, Sharon
dc.identifier.citationMatthews, S. (2012). Recasting the Feminine: Archetypes and Archetypal Figures of the Female in Two Plays by James K. Baxter (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractPrevious critical commentary has considered the plays of James K. Baxter to be predominantly vehicles for his social criticism. They possess, however, a compelling subjective force, and female characters which appear to have a specific codification that demands a response beyond the requirements of the dramaturgy. This thesis investigates the source of this compelling subjectivity, and examines the relationship between this quality and Baxter’s complex and contradictory representation of the female. Baxter’s plays reflect an attempted resolution of the irresolvable conflicts between the internal world of instinctual sexual drives and the constraining forces of the external world encountered during the search for a fulfilling sexual self. This study of two of Baxter’s plays, The Wide Open Cage (1959) and The Devil and Mr Mulcahy (1967), within a psychoanalytical paradigm, illustrates the formative influence of psychic trauma on the creation of the plays, suggesting how creativity may be utilised to resolve intolerable inner conflicts through a process of projection, displacement and evacuation. Baxter’s female characters function as “transformational objects” which act to evacuate or transform intolerable psychic conflicts arising from the complex and contradictory intersection of his social, sexual and spiritual identities. The complex and ambiguous codification of Norah in The Wide Open Cage, and the equally strikingly opaque nature of Rachel, are different mytho-poetic illustrations of interior conflict formulated in response to different psychic conditions. A comparison of the psychic elaborations manifest in the archetypal figures of the prostitute/Mother and the virgin maiden in these two plays indicates that the unconscious defensive structures designed to protect narcissistic continuity become increasingly fragmented.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectJames K. Baxter
dc.subjectNew Zealand Theatre
dc.titleRecasting the Feminine: Archetypes and Archetypal Figures of the Female in Two Plays by James K. Baxter
dc.language.rfc3066en of Arts of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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