Abstract: This investigation centers on the forgotten figures, three Sophoclean women who exist largely in the margins of scholarship on Greek tragedy and who are often underutilized in adaptations. For instance, Judith Butler, Hegel, and Jean Racine each overlook them. These women, Tecmessa, Chrysothemis, and Ismene, have much in common. They were all royal at one time, have vital rhetorical func... read moretions, such as increasing pity and fear in the spectator and balancing the arguments of the protagonist and/or antagonist, and they ultimately disappear from their play or become mute characters, often without explanation or reference. As a result of hierarchical bias toward tragic heroes, which is inherently patriarchal, the quieter battles of the forgotten figures against gender inequality, slavery, and psychological trauma are missed and gender norms and class structure are reinforced. This study follows the example of feminist Adrienne Rich, who suggests re-reading canonical plays from a feminist point of view in order to challenge patriarchy and identify missed opportunities to discuss the merits of female characters. In doing so, the forgotten figures are shown to not only be rhetorically significant in Sophocles' plays and adaptations, but to be a necessary element of the tragic structure through their increase of pity and fear in spectators and through their ability to highlight tragic heroes, the main conflict, and contemporary societal concerns, such as psychoanalysis, gender equality, and expressionism. Adding supporting characters, like the forgotten figures, into a contemporary tragic structure is essential to align it with current interests in supporting characters, alternate narratives, and ensemble casts as illustrated by John Higgs' Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History of the 20th Century and Jeremy Rosen's Minor Characters Have Their Day: Genre and the Contemporary Literary Marketplace. Such a study will benefit performance, historiography, adaptation, classical Greek, military, gender, general theatre, and psychology studies. The forgotten figures are given precedence in this study in the hope that doing so challenges the dominant narrative, which believes that major characters are more significant than supporting characters, and ultimately lead others to do the same.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Drama.
Advisor: Monica White Ndounou.
Committee: Jacqueline Romeo, Heather Nathans, and Barbara Wallace Grossman.