Matrophobic Aspects in Marsha Norman’s Getting Out

Aisha T. Alahmari


This paper will attempt to prove that the American playwright Marsha Norman uses the American stage to explore the mother-daughter relationship, which is universally meaningful to women. The paper analyzes the nature of the relationship between Mother Holsclaw and her daughter Arlene in Marsha Norman’s play Getting Out. The maternal relationship between mother and daughter is tinged with matrophobia. Norman, the female playwright, emerged in a time where female writers had to take the extra mile to prove themselves among male theatre patrons, and the fact that she touches on the relationship between mothers and daughters added some difficulties for her to be accepted. However, we all know that Norman is a successful Pulitzer Prize dramatist now. The paper conducts a thorough and detailed analysis of the play and traces the theme of matrophobia through the mother-daughter relationship in the play. The analysis is aided by Elaine Showalter’s discussion of feminism and the phases it went through. With the help of few outstanding writers on feminism and motherhood like Adrienne Rich, and D. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein, the paper investigates Norman’s own different mother figures who shaped her life experience and the different mother figures who go through Arlene’s life too. The question is where Norman stands from this idea of matrophobia and its existence in a daughter’s life, and to what extent it affects her character’s ability to mother her own son. Despite the awkward relationship that Arlene has with her mother, she actually defies the demon of matrophobia and looks forward to joining her son.


American Drama, Matrophobia, Feminism, Marsha Norman, Theatre

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