Revisiting The Father: Precarity and subversive performativity

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The ambiguity of August Strindberg’s approach to women has engendered varying interpretations, including accusations of misogyny. Among his allegedly misogynistic plays is the 1887 naturalistic masterpiece, The Father. Chronologically coinciding with the rise of the women’s movement in Sweden, The Father, rather than endorsing a misogynistic culture, allows for an alternative reading that contributes to the destabilisation of gender binaries and an understanding of gender identities as relational and performative. In its portrayal of a fierce struggle between a seemingly diabolic wife and a upposedly
tyrannical husband, the play delves deeply into the dynamics of gender and the subversion of normatively established orders. This article analyses Strindberg’s play in relation to Slavoj Z ˇ izˇek’s conception of the ‘femme fatale’ and Judith Butler’s account of gender performativity to illustrate how the play’s central characters performatively subvert the hegemonic norms by which they are constituted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-302
Number of pages14
JournalFeminist Theory
Issue number3
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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