To Speak or Not to Speak: The Silence and the Fear of Social Alienation in Arnold Wesker’s Annie Wobbler
Abstract: In the hierarchized space of society, individuals are always expected to fit in and perform certain roles in order to be accepted and accommodated into it. Any questioning of the dominant ideology and deviation from the socially prescribed rules immediately brings the deviant individual under a social scanner, and every measure is taken to eliminate or silence such disruptive presence. Patriarchy, being a supremacist discourse, attempts to promote and perpetuate its hold on society as much through promoting narratives of male superiority and worthiness as through constructing a false discourse of female inferiority, ineligibility and lack. Needless to say, the most significant impact of this manipulated knowledge can be seen in the historical expulsion of women from the territories of speech and free expression. This paper re-reads the British playwright Arnold Wesker’s 1981 play Annie Wobbler with a view to highlighting how the female protagonist of the play breaks free from the shackles of a “normative” existence and reclaims her identity by voicing forth the silenced tales of her forbidden and potentially disruptive experiences. I have also tried to underline the various hazards of such a deviant act and how the female protagonist ultimately succeeds in subverting the patriarchal narratives of normalcy and respectability.
Keywords: Patriarchy, Silence, Society, Speech, Tale, Telling
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Published in August 2019