Negotiating triple consciousness for August Wilson's female characters

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Description: In August Wilson's ten play cycle he creates a triple consciousness for his female characters, expanding the double consciousness defined by W. E. B. DuBois, which includes an understanding of the self as an American, an African American, and a woman. Some of Wilson's female characters are successful at negotiating this triple consciousness. Others are not. The factors that contribute to Wilson's female characters' successful or unsuccessful negotiation of their triple consciousness include a strong connection to heritage and community, connection to African ritual and tradition, and a control over their sexual identity. Wilson uses his successful female characters to make a powerful statement to African American women about their role within their community. Through these characters he acknowledges the need for a strong connection to community and heritage (both African and southern). Wilson's successful female characters also embrace the practice of African ritual and tradition, as opposed to Eurocentric Christianity. Finally, his successful female characters practice a "preserved femininity," a term used to describe the ability for a woman to control both her sexuality and her role within the domestic sphere as she alters predetermined gender and racial stereotypes. While I do not claim that Wilson is a feminist, his successful female characters who practice a "preserved femininity" embody elements of the "womanist" described by Alice Walker. Wilson himself acknowledges the female characters in his plays are secondary to his male characters. Every interaction with these female characters occurs within their relationships to male leads. Nonetheless, Wilson's drama is intended to instruct and speak to all African Americans, including women.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work