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Communication dans un congrès

Performative betrayals: Christian gender politics or Christianity on trial in Oscar Wilde's Salomé

Abstract :

Oscar Wilde’s symbolist drama Salomé (1892) was written directly in French, a language the playwright “adore[d] without speaking it well” (Ellmann).  In order to avoid awkward phrasing in the dialogues, Wilde minimized the importance of language in favour of the show. In consequence in Salomé silence is at least as important as speech, and showing or suggesting through performance makes up for telling. The eponymous heroine is therefore mainly shaped by quotations. These are either stated by third characters or “translated” into images through performance. The enunciated quotations epitomize the male characters’ gaze while the “performed” ones, which are actually scraps and bits from Biblical, Greek and Roman myths, are more inherent with Salome’s “essential nature”. Consequently, in this gender-oriented drama, Salomé appears as a discursive and plastic construct which brings together male representations of the feminine as both an ideal and a threat  (notably the 19th century myth of the femme fatale) as well as performative evocations of archetypal female characters (such as Isis, Ishtar). The above characterization process aims at opposing two versions of a Janus-faced Salomé, whose identity can either be  a man’s issue lying outside her control , or  an embodiment of the archetypal  matriarchal female. In both cases, Salomé functions as a self conscious postmodern construct whose self is shaped by texts and narratives. 

However, when Herod is imploring her not to listen to her mother and to ask for something else than Jokanaan’s head, she answers:  “It is not my mother’s voice that I heed. It is for mine own pleasure that I ask the head of Jokanaan”.  By so doing, Salomé breaks with the tradition she stems from, both biblical and mythological, and attempts to start a new one in which pleasure becomes a yardstick by which she defines herself for us who are invited to use it, too, in order to redefine  identity and gender. 

Type de document :
Communication dans un congrès
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Contributeur : Okina Univ Angers Connectez-vous pour contacter le contributeur
Soumis le : lundi 18 octobre 2021 - 13:48:01
Dernière modification le : jeudi 6 janvier 2022 - 03:28:47
Archivage à long terme le : : mercredi 19 janvier 2022 - 20:46:10


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  • HAL Id : hal-03382980, version 1
  • OKINA : ua13626



Emmanuel Vernadakis. Performative betrayals: Christian gender politics or Christianity on trial in Oscar Wilde's Salomé. Translating Myth, Sep 2013, Colchester, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-03382980⟩



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