Kyriaki Petrakou

Identity of a Woman: authenticity and individuality in the work of three modern (women) playwrights (Margarita Lyberaki, Loula Anagnostaki, Kostoula Mitropoulou)


This paper is intended to examine and analyze the image that female dramatic persons have for themselves – compared with the image they present or think they present to others – in the plays of the above mentioned contemporary women playwrights and the decisions and actions resulting from this image. Margarita Lyberaki lived in France during the postwar years and her literature – prose and drama – has been influenced to a certain degree by the existentialist philosophy, even if it departs from it decisively: her women, after a period of subjection in action and conception of themselves to men, decisively break the bond and become autonomous, self defined, even self-celebrated as some kind of deities (two of them are actually queens). Kostoula Mitropoulou follows the opposite path. Her female characters, most of them artists (performers and writers), although they are mistresses of their own destiny, are obsessed by their passion for men, who are unwilling to respond to their needs, want them only as lovers and this for a short time, preferring an ordinary existence with a wife and family, in which they dominate unquestionably. Her exceptional heroines are unable to cope with this male rejection and despair to the point of self-destruction. Her approach seems psychological and empirical, but the intensity of this male-female conflict can be interpreted as ontological. Loula Anagnostaki’s heroines do not depend so much on the men of their environment but mostly on the national, historical and social conditions. Still this conditions are formed mostly by men, so these women cannot escape actual or mental subjection to them and to the social roles allocated to them, which do not define them autonomously but as wives, mothers, sisters or daughters. The dynamic of the family ties is stronger for them than for men. The structures and solutions suggested by these writers, whose dramatic work was formed and produced mostly in the fifties, sixties and seventies, (Lyberaki and Mitropoulou recently passed away. Anagnostaki is still alive and creative), are analyzed and examined in the light of historical evolution, sociological studies concerning mainly Greece although not exclusively, gender theory and psychology. As women-writers they are perhaps more entitled to reveal the female experience and evolution of the last half century in the Western world from the inner self so to say, and present their position and conflict with the external world. A comparison will be made with the image of female identity in the postwar Greek drama (several important playwrights, like Kambanellis, Mourselas, Skourtis, Kechaidis, Maniotis and others) in general.

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