Agency In Gender And Performativity Essay

1347 words - 5 pages

"Performativity must be understood not as a singular or deliberate "act" but rather as a reiterative and citational practice by which discourse produces the effects it names" there is no power that acts but only a reiterated acting that is power in its persistence and instability" Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter.In Judith Butlers essay, Bodies That Matter, she states that the power in performativity comes from reiteration rather than a singular authority. She also brings up the question of whether agency can exist within the strong confines of reiteration and performativity. One of Howard Pinters characters in the play Homecoming, Ruth, is caught in a position where she is subject to the performativity of her gender and the question of whether or not she has agency in the situation seems ambiguous.Ruth, the only woman in the play, acts as the mother, whore, wife, and daughter to the men around her, she is being subjected to the utmost performativity of her gender.Ruth's submission to the construct of these desired roles appears to be reactionary which brings up the question, does Ruth has agency or if she is a marionette in the fulfillment of masculine desires. The proposal is that Ruth, paradoxically, has the most agency and power among the characters in Homecoming precisely because she is so completely performed by her gender.The blood family in the play consists entirely of males, a coarse father whose wife is dead, his compliant brother, and the fathers three children, a boxer, a taxi driver, and Ruth's husband Ted (who has been away from the family since he got married) When Ted and Ruth arrive at the fathers house he immediately disassociates from her and realigns himself with the family dynamic.The males in the family , at first impression, are arranged into a rigid patriarchal structure but it is soon apparent that beneath the facade there is no system, only a web of behaviors which exist for personal validation. The males don't relate to each other, even in conversation, their dialogue is essentially a series of monologues. Although each male has separate desires there is one common desire; for Ruth to be the docile, adaptable, female.Ruth is the only character who cannot be characterized in the sense that her roles are constantly changing. Throughout the play she skips between roles effortlessly, playing games with the males and taking whatever role she finds the most appealing for the situation. For example, there is a scene in the plat when the men are making sexual advances toward Ruth and she is not only allowing their simultaneous advances, in the presence of Ted, she is participating in the act. Ruth is the silent, compliant, whore as the men bestow their affections on her. In a moment of insight, Max narrates the ambiguity of her character " she is a tart..the wife..a lovely girl.. a beautiful woman..a mother." Ruth, as if on cue to Max's powerful realization, rises abruptly and demands food and whisky and the men rush to...

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