How did women appear onstage? When? How do women feel about the presence – or absence – of the female actor? The subject of this book is female absence and the writing, reading, and making of dramatic worlds that construct woman as a metaphor. The works discussed and analysed are not the texts of women, but exemplify the male gaze on what it means to be a woman. Approved and canonical, these works from the long tradition of Western theatre have defined female identity since the times of Aristotle and Socrates; they say what is required to be a woman and how women have been historically viewed, and therefore created, by the works of men.
In the metaphorical superstructure of theatre, women have become metaphors, by means of real and experienced processes. But female disempowerment and metaphorisation have not been conclusively identified or investigated with respect to the operations of the theatrical metaphor. This work enables the reader to see and experience these mechanisms of language and action.