Abject Relationships: Expressing Affection with Violence in Phaedra's Love
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- Student papers (HF-IKS) 
This thesis argues that Sarah Kane’s “Phaedra’s Love” is designed to open a discussion on the struggles of the feminine sexual and emotional identity and its relationship with desire, framed as abject in the male dominated society. The words of the script and the actions performed on stage, the behavior of the characters and their interactions with each other highlight the abjection of their interpersonal relationships, specifically through the use of violence and violent metaphors. However, instead of focusing on femininity alone, Kane presents to her audience that both masculinity and femininity suffer from the patriarchal perspective. In order to confirm my argument, I will firstly describe abject theory and its use in critical analysis. Then I will proceed to focus on violence as a social abject, that is an abject product of society, of which the most abject version is rape. In the third chapter I will describe the background of the myth of Phaedra and Hippolytus and the evolution of the play through the centuries and specifically the changes made by Sarah Kane on Seneca’s classic, so as to illustrate that those alterations are instrumental for the successful conveyance of its new message. Finally I will analyse the script of Phaedra’s Love dissecting each scene, paying attention to the use of violence and violent language. Phaedra’s Love has received harsh critiques for its absurd and extreme use of gore and inyour-face violence. On the other hand, the evolution of the use of violence in the entertainment industry, from Seneca’s to Kane’s time, implies a difference in the meaning said violence holds. What this thesis will argue is that, while violence was the core of classical entertainment, not a representation nor a symbol, but a tool in and of itself, the same cannot be said of how violence is used in contemporary art, where it becomes a metaphor for emotional and psychological pain. The research will expand on the topic of the artistic visual representation of social issues, finding its space within the feminist discourse and theatre studies, producing new instruments for engaging in the social debate about the abjectification of femininity from the part of what has been called “diseased masculinity”.
Master's thesis in Literacy Studies