This thesis is an examination of the trapped lives of Marina Carr's female protagonists and their relevance to contemporary Irish women. In her six plays from The Mai to Woman and Scarecrow, each of Carr's female protagonists is trapped either in a liminal state, defined by Victor Turner as a phase in a rites of passage process, or in a patriarchal addictive society, defined by Anne Wilson Schaef as a society in which the power is maintained and perpetuated by white males with the help of all members of society including women. Portia (Portia Coughlan), Hester (By the Bog of Cats), and Sorrel (On Raftery's Hill) are trapped in a liminal state. As liminal characters, each of these women has the ability to discern the destructive nature of the addictive society around them and must therefore decide either to integrate into that society or remain in a liminal state. Since neither option is appealing, Portia and Hester choose to commit suicide rather than to submit themselves either to continual liminality or to the addictive society. Sorrel, however, chooses liminality, and her life attests to the stagnation accompanying such a choice. The Mai (The Mai¬), Elaine (Ariel), Frances (Ariel), and Woman (Woman and Scarecrow) choose to integrate into the addictive society. In so doing, they surrender their personal power and submit to the typical feminine roles and addictions of their society. Ultimately their submission to the addictive society leads each of these characters to a destructive end: The Mai commits suicide, Frances dies by Elaine's hand, and Woman lives a stagnant life and dies unfulfilled. Although Carr's protagonists are fictional, the liminal and addictive states that Carr's women experience mirror the situations that Irish women have encountered and continue to encounter today. Like their fictional counterparts, Irish women are frequently faced with either a liminal position outside of society or traditional women's roles within an addictive society"”both of which are destructive options as Carr's protagonists demonstrate through their own lives and deaths. Although Carr's protagonists do not appear to offer any solutions to these problems, her plays do meaningfully illuminate and name these problems that Irish women face.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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Marina Carr, theater, liminality, addictive society