Women in Xhosa drama : dramatic and cultural perspectives

Satyo, Priscilla Nomsa (2001-03)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study aims at highlighting a crucial aspect of Xhosa drama: The portrayal of the role women have been forced culturally to assume in society. A selection of Xhosa plays from three periods (1958 - 1965; 1974 - 1982; and 1988 - 1997) is examined. In the process of the study, the analysis and the interpretation of these dramas as well as the depiction of women characters is examined. Authors of the ten dramas under study advocate change through the powerful forces of gender stereotypes and culture distortions. The attributes that the authors commonly ascribe to women characters are passivity, irrationality, compliancy and incorrigibility. An examination of the reasons behind this proliferation of these female stereotypes and the lack of realistic women characters is undertaken. The study posits reasons why particular stereotypes appear in the works of several authors over a period of time. The women characters are products of social conditioning, that is, ideals or counter-ideals of the prevailing values of the authors' culture. They are a symbolic fulfillment of the writers' needs. The broad cultural perspectives of the authors also shape the texts they produce. These dramas treat issues and themes, which become central to the formal and structural ordering of the drama. Such themes have an impact at times on form and structure. In each case the ideology of the class represented by authors under study is indeed reflected in the text, to its detriment. The dominating themes in the ten dramas are forced marriages and women abuse. The authors are so preoccupied with injustices against women that they distort certain cultural aspects by, for example, exaggeration. Women are constantly depicted as victims, while there are no indications in the authors' depictions of women that perceptions of their cultural role and status are in reality undergoing changes. The thesis is arranged as follows: Chapter 1 introduces the aim, the scope, the theories and the methods of the study. Chapter 2 deals with the development of plot within episodes in the dramas of the first literary period (1958 - 1965). These episodes depict the different phases of the dramas. A critical evaluation of the dramas by motivating their positive and negative aspects is undertaken. Chapter 3 deals with the development of plot within episodes in the dramas of the second literary period (1974 - 1982). As in the first literary period, a critical evaluation of the dramas by motivating their positive and negative aspects is examined. Chapter 4 deals with the development of plot within episodes in the dramas of the third literary period (1988 - 1997). A critical evaluation of the dramas by motivating their good and bad points is undertaken. Chapter 5 deals with woman as character in Xhosa dramas under study. A detailed analysis of the main woman character in each drama is undertaken. Furthermore, a critical summary of how the woman has been portrayed in the dramas is presented. Chapter 6 presents depiction of Xhosa culture in the Xhosa dramas. From each drama, certain selected aspects of culture are explored and an investigation of the portrayal of these aspects is undertaken. Chapter 7 summarizes the findings of the study.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doelstelling van hierdie studie is om 'n kern aspek van Xhosa drama te belig: die rolle wat vroue kultureel gedwing is om te vervul in die gemeenskap. 'n Seleksie Xhosa dramas vanuit drie tydperke (1958 - 1965; 1974 - 1982; en 1988 - 1997) word ondersoek. In die loop van die studie, ontleding en interpretasie van hierdie dramas word die uitbeelding van vroue karakters ook ondersoek. Die skrywers van die tien dramas wat bestudeer word, betoog vir verandering deur middel van die sterk kragte van stereopites en kultureelverwronge voorstellings. Die eienskappe wat die skrywers algemeen toeskryf aan vroue karakters is passiwiteit, irrasionele optrede, gehoorsaamheid en deugsaamheid. 'n Ondersoek na die redes vir die proliferasie van hierdie vroulike stereotipes en die tekortkoming aan realistiese vroue karakters in Xhosa dramas word uitgevoer in die studie. Die studie voer redes aan waarom bepaalde stereotipes in die werk van verskeie skrywers oor 'n tydperk verskyn: hulle vrouekarakters is die produk van sosiale kondisionering, dit wil sêm ideale of teen-ideale van die heersende waardes van die skrywer se kulturele agtergrond en 'n simboliese vervulling van die skrywer se behoeftes. Die algemene kulturele perspektiewe van die skrywers beïnvloed en vorm ook die tekste wat hulle lewer. Hierdie dramas behandel naamlik vraagstukke tematies wat sentraalook bepalend is ten opsigte van die vorm en struktuur van die drama. Sodanige temas het gevolglik in bepaalde gevalle 'n invloed op die vorm en struktuur van die drama. Voorts word die ideologie van die klas verteenwoordig deur die skrywers in elke geval gereflekteer en die teks tot bepaalde nadele daarvan. Die prominente temas in die tien dramas is gedwonge huwelike en vrouemishandeling. Die skrywers is so gepre-okkupeer met die ongeregtighede teenoor vroue dat hulle bepaalde kulturele aspekte verwring deur, byvoorbeeld, buitensporige voorstellings. Vroue word voortdurend voorgestel as slagoffers, terwyl daar feitlik geen aanduidings is in die skrywer se voorstelling van vroue, dat persepsies oor hulle kulturele rol en status inderwaarheid besig is om veranderinge te ondergaan. Die proefskrif is soos volg gestruktureer: Hoofstuk 1 gee die doelstellings, omvang, teorieë en metodes wat in die studie gevolg word. Hoofstuk 2 behandel die ontwikkeling van intrige binne verskillende episodes in die dramas van die eerste literêre periode (1958 - 1965). Hierdie episodes gee 'n uitbeelding van die verskillende fases van die dramas wat in die studie ondersoek word. 'n Kritiese evaluering word van die dramas gedoen deur die positiewe en negatiewe aspekte daarvan te motiveer. Hoofstuk 3 behandel die ontwikkeling van intrige binne die episodes van die dramas van die tweede literêre periode (1974 - 1982). Soos vir die eerste literêre periode, word 'n kritiese evaluering gedoen van die dramas deur onder andere die positiewe en negatiewe literêre aspekte daarvan te motiveer. Hoofstuk 4 ondersoek die ontwikkeling van die intrige binne die episodes in die dramas van die derde literêre periode (1988 - 1997). Die kritiese evaluering van hierdie dramas sluit, soos vir die vorige periodes, 'n gemotiveerde beskouing in van die positiewe en negatiewe aspekte. Hoofstuk 5 ondersoek die vrou as karakter in die Xhosa dramas wat bestudeer word. 'n Gedetaileerde analise van die hoof-vroue karakters in elke drama word gedoen. Daarna word 'n kritiese oorsig aangebied van hoe die vrou voorgestel word in die dramas wat bestudeer is. Hoofstuk 6 bied 'n uitbeelding van Xhosa kultuur in die dramas wat ondersoek is. Bepaalde aspekte van kultuur word vir elke drama ondersoek en die uitbeelding van hierdie kultuur aspekte word behandel. Hoofstuk 7 bied 'n opsomming van die belangrikste bevindinge van die studie.

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