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Women in Verga and Pirandello: From Page to Stage

De Francisci, E; (2013) Women in Verga and Pirandello: From Page to Stage. Doctoral thesis , University College London.

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This thesis considers the transposition from short story into play, in the work of Verga and Pirandello, concentrating on a comparison between their methods of presenting the female characters in the two genres, and assessing what occurs when the voice of the narrator is replaced by the exchanges of the characters on stage. The main tenet is to challenge the critical view that women in the authors’ work represent the weaker vessel. The close reading of the selected pairs of texts illustrates how, although the female characters take a subsidiary position in the triangular relationship in which they are involved, they nonetheless remain the catalysts of the action by precipitating the main events. Even though (off stage) women at the time were being denied a political voice, it is argued here that once the characters rely on dialogue in the passage from short story to play, they gain a voice of their own on stage. Their ability for articulation thus reveals the characters as women capable of discussing their thoughts and feelings for themselves, which ultimately enables them to break away from their traditional identification with nature and emotion – making an examination of this sort particularly relevant to the topic of women. Part of the investigation briefly discusses how contemporary (male) theatre critics responded to these leading roles, and takes into consideration the women who are instrumental in providing the link from the narrative genre to the theatrical: the role of the actress, particularly Eleonora Duse who had a significant influence on early interpretations of Verga’s women and on Pirandello’s developing notions of the merging of art and reality. In conclusion, the relationship between the techniques of the two authors in adapting their works from page to stage sheds new light on why the narrative genre is particularly suited to Verga’s preoccupations, and why the dramatic form is more effective in exploring Pirandello’s umorismo. Even though the diachronic overview of their theatre shows how Verga’s approach veers towards the direction later taken by Pirandello, it also exemplifies how Pirandello exploits the means of the theatre to make significant innovations, spanning the transition from Realism to Modernism – a divergence from his predecessor which is emphasized through his treatment of the female voice on stage.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Women in Verga and Pirandello: From Page to Stage
Event: University College London
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1447137
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