Finding That Balance

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Even after hearing the opposing opinions of those who disliked "Goodnight Desdemona Good Morning Juliet," I'm sticking to my guns. I really liked the play. There was an important question concerning "feminism" that was brought up in class on Wednesday. Is MacDonald's play a feminist play? Well, we have to first know what a feminist is before we can make that decision. According to, feminism "empowers people to transform and reimagine the roles of men and women."

MacDonald firmly stated that her play is NOT a feminist play. I'd like to disagree. I believe that GNGM is a play whose logical timeline of events symbolizes the logical timeline of events in the world of men and women. In the beginning of the play, Constance Ledbelly is exactly what her name implies- She is a led-belly, a person who is weighted down by the world around her. Also, Karyssa Blair mentioned in class one day that led is a malleable substance and can be bent wherever one wants it to be bent. So, Constance is able to be bent wherever those around her want her to be bent. This can be compared to the roles of women before the feminist movement. Women were ALL ledbellies. They were also able to be manipulated by whoever was around them.

As the play progresses, Constance is introduced to Desdemona, the fiery equivalent of a feminist, and Juliet, the equivalent of an old-fashioned woman whose dependence lies strictly upon men. In the midst of the chaotic imaginary Shakespearian world, Constance must encounter both women and decide which type of woman she identifies herself with more. I beleive that MacDonald is trying to make the point that Constance relates to neither extreme, but, being an alchemist of sorts, molds both personalities to form herself. Therefore, I understand where MacDonald was coming from when saying that her play is NOT feminist. However, as we said in class on Wednesday, it doesn't matter what original author intent was. I've come to identify this play as a feminist play due to the fact that Constance, in examining the roles of men and women in her own life, was empowered to draw conclusions about her life. She was obviously changed, and we can see this change when the Chorus says "The alchemy of ancient hieroglyphs/ has permeated the unconscious mind/ of Constance L... Where mingling and unmingling opposites/ performs a wondrous feat of alchemy,/ and spins grey matter, into precious gold"  (Epilogue, pg. 89).

I believe that the chorus is saying that Constance's "grey matter," or brain, was changed into Gold. Her ideas were changed and molded. We can assume these ideas to be about her role in life as a woman and how she will relate to the men in her life after she was changed. Therefore, through the actions of the play, Constance undergoes a change, and this creates a feminist aura around the play. 


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