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Wilder's Women: Radical Agents Against Tradition

Sadie Marsh
Presenter(s)
Sadie Marsh
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This research examines two of Thornton Wilder’s more experimental plays, published in 1931 - The Long Christmas Dinner and The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden. Historically, critics have said Wilder’s portrayal of womanhood and motherhood is traditional and conservative. However, a closer reading of these two plays reveals the opposite. Through a gender-inquiry lens, Wilder’s women emerge as radical agents for themselves, defying the typical conventions of women in the early 1900s.

By researching womanhood and motherhood in the first three decades of the twentieth century, it is evident that Wilder’s women are more active advocates than customary, an interesting perspective coming from Wilder, the son of devout Puritan parents. This research examines two of Thornton Wilder’s more experimental plays, published in 1931— The Long Christmas Dinner and The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden. Historically, critics have said Wilder’s portrayal of womanhood and motherhood is traditional and conservative. However, a closer reading of these two plays reveals the opposite. Through a gender-inquiry lens, Wilder’s women emerge as radical agents for themselves, defying the typical conventions of women in the early 1900s.

By researching womanhood and motherhood in the first three decades of the twentieth century, it is evident that Wilder’s women are more active advocates than customary, an interesting perspective coming from Wilder, the son of devout Puritan parents.

Biography

Sadie Marsh is a senior from Lexington, Kentucky. She is majoring in English, minoring in Religious Studies, and receiving her Elementary Teaching license. During her time at Salem she has discovered a passion for researching the agency women gain and lose through motherhood. Sadie Marsh is a senior from Lexington, Kentucky. She is majoring in English, minoring in Religious Studies, and receiving her Elementary Teaching license. During her time at Salem she has discovered a passion for researching the agency women gain and lose through motherhood.