Acting Women pp 111-131 | Cite as

The wilful woman

  • Lesley Ferris
Part of the Women in Society book series


Autocratic and immature, the term ‘wilful’ has a certain double edge: applied perjoratively to a child, it conveys headstrong, obstinate, self-willed. But used in a wider context it also implies strength, autonomy, decisive action. A person who performs ‘wilful’ actions intends them deliberately, not accidentally. In this chapter I argue that the ‘wilful woman’ is a central female image in our theatrical canon; an image riven by its own double edged meaning of adult strength and childish obstinacy; a source of anarchy, an attack on the status quo, and therefore traditionally presented as an ‘evil woman’. Additionally, there is a subtext to the term ‘wilful’ in the world of the theatrical patriarchy which views women simply as children, at times uncontrollable and destructive, incapable of maturity and adultness.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Lesley Ferris 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley Ferris

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations