The Journal for Ancient Performance
Didaskalia 16.02

Feminism(s) and Humanism in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira

By Sofia Alagkiozidou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Introduction, the play and the argument

Timberlake Wertenbaker has been a preeminent female playwright of British theatre since the 1980s. The creative translation and adaptation of past literary material is an integral part of her dramatic output, with aesthetic and political connotations. She has been heavily preoccupied with the creative translation and adaptation of ancient Greek plays, such as Euripides’ Hecuba and Hippolytus and Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos, Oedipus of Colonus and Antigone (the last under the title The Thebans in 1991). Dianeira is Wertenbaker’s version of Sophocles’ Trachiniae. The play was commissioned by Catherine Bailey, a producer well known for her five Sony Radio Academy Awards, and it was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1999.1 Dianeira was published in 2002 as the last in Volume 2 of Wertenbaker’s plays, along with The Break of Day, After Darwin, Credible Witness and The Ash Girl.2 Dianeira has been regarded by critics as a typical example of feminist theatre, despite the author’s reluctance to one-sidedly accept this categorisation,3 and the critical assessment of the relationship of Wertenbaker’s version with Sophocles’ Trachiniae has tended to be based on this categorisation. Indeed, the critical consensus has been to construct the relationship between Dianeira and Trachiniae as one of confrontation, where Dianeira is seen as a feminist rewriting of an ancient play well embedded in the patriarchal canon.4

I try to show in this paper that both the ideological discourse unfolding in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira, and its relationship with Sophocles’ Trachiniae, are more complicated. I argue that Dianeira echoes Wertenbaker’s general conception of feminism as a broad ideological movement operating within the limits of humanism, and that this conception informs the relationship between Dianeira and Trachiniae. In Wertenbaker’s version, the ancient play is a patriarchal antimodel of confrontation and, at the same time, a humanistic model of aspiration. This twofold relationship is reflected in how Wertenbaker’s Dianeira serves as both a creative translation of Trachiniae and, simultaneously, a criticism of it. The addition of the second narrator, Irene, who extensively comments on the ancient play’s characters, form and meaning, is one of Wertenbaker’s major structural and thematic modifications that serve precisely this purpose. The last part of the play (D. pp. 362–374), which Wertenbaker significantly modifies in order to endow her version with a different ideological investment, is the climax of the complex ideological discourse in Dianeira and the focus of this article. In this respect, Victoria Pedrick’s view that Wertenbaker’s version “speaks in defiance of its model” rings true, but it highlights only one dimension of the complex and contradictory relationship of Dianeira with Sophocles’ Trachiniae.5 Similarly, the humanism that critics6 have noticed only in the rest of Wertenbaker’s literary output becomes evident in Dianeira as well.

In the following discussion, I offer a brief overview of the ideological and political connotations of the radio play as the medium of performance of Dianeira. Then, I proceed to the contextualisation of Wertenbaker’s version. I sketch the ideological background of Wertenbaker’s Dianeira and I explore the form that feminism(s) and humanism acquire, and the way they are interrelated in Wertenbaker’s whole oeuvre and in Dianeira in particular. Finally, I analyse the end of Wertenbaker’s version in comparison with Sophocles’ Trachiniae.

The figure of Dianeira in Wertenbaker’s version of Trachiniae has been extensively discussed in the existing scholarship.7 Most scholars have focused their analyses on Dianeira because she expresses more vocally than any other character in the play the criticism of patriarchy, which is also the focus of their interpretation of Wertenbaker’s version. My reading of Dianeira in Wertenbaker’s version does not differ from previous scholarly readings of her characterisation. Wertenbaker’s Dianeira does undoubtedly express her anger and resentment, and thus her feminist protest, louder than Sophocles’ Dianeira. Her crisis in Wertenbaker’s version originates from the patriarchal restrictions imposed on her and the fear of masculinity, which is inextricably linked with violence. Wertenbaker’s exploration of Dianeira’s moral agency transfers the problematics from the personal to the political by presenting Dianeira’s error as a subconscious reaction to patriarchal oppression. Dianeira’s reclamation of a new subjectivity with autonomy and free agency is unsuccessful within the limits of patriarchy. Her suicide is the most tragic manifestation of the impossibility of female self-actualisation within patriarchy.

My analysis in this article focuses on the play after Dianeira’s suicide (D. pp. 362–374), a portion particularly significant for the interpretation of the entire play and its less studied part in scholarly literature. Wertenbaker’s radically different handling of Heracles’ apotheosis, the addition of the confrontation scene between Hyllos and Iole, and the audience’s return journey to contemporary Athens are major alterations of form and meaning to the ancient play. I therefore focus most on the figures of Heracles, Hyllos, Iole and the listeners of the story who occupy the part of Wertenbaker’s version after Dianeira’s suicide, in the belief that their handling by Wertenbaker clarifies the complex ideological discourse she intends to construct. My references to Dianeira will be more detailed only at specific points where comparison with Heracles is necessary.

In particular, I explore how Heracles’ case in Dianeira embodies the criticism of patriarchy in a much more vocal way than in Trachiniae. I analyse Hyllos’ and Iole’s cases, whose presence is bolder in Dianeira than in Trachiniae, as a critique of feminism’s rigid forms. I explore the humanistic implications of the audience’s awareness at the very end of the play, a part added by Wertenbaker, and the correspondences with other instances of humanistic spirit throughout Dianeira. My purpose is to show that Dianeira’s ending is as multi-layered and complex as the ideologies that mark Wertenbaker’s entire version: less enigmatic than the end of Trachiniae and more pessimistic, despite its humanism.

Dianeira as a radio play

Dianeira was performed as a radio drama on BBC Radio 3 on November 28, 1999.8 The widely recognized and highly acclaimed cast members included Harriet Walter as Dianeira, Olympia Dukakis as Irene, Alan Howard as Heracles, Joseph Fiennes as Hyllos, David Bradley as Lichas, and Simon Callow as Nessos. Wertenbaker co-directed the play with Catherine Bailey and played the first narrator of the story, who introduced the second one, Irene. The Oxford Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama lists the instruments that were used for Dianeira’s music: bass clarinet, whistle, guitar, cello and percussion.9 A reading of the play was given by Wertenbaker as part of the Royal National Theatre Platform series in London on January 16, 2001.10 No other production of Wertenbaker’s Dianeira is referred to in the Archive.

Michael Billington, in his interview of Wertenbaker in The Guardian of November 25, 1999, underlines the ‘‘random coverage’’ that the play received in newspapers due to ‘‘cultural hierarchies’’ that render radio a ‘‘marginalised medium.’’11 Dianeira was commissioned as a radio play. Wertenbaker says in an interview, ‘‘When Catherine Bailey commissioned me to write a radio play and I floated the idea of a Sophoclean translation, she said, ‘Don’t do me a boring Greek or no one will listen.’’’12 The choice of the medium of performance predetermined the choice of the ancient play that would be creatively translated. Why, though, did Wertenbaker consider Dianeira, her version of Sophocles’ Trachiniae, to be compatible with, not to say ideal for, the medium of the radio play? What did radio have to offer to the content of Wertenbaker’s version?

Scholars offer some explanations. Shih associates the radio play with the middle-class married women who constitute a significant part of its audience and a preferable recipient of Wertenbaker’s version.13 Given the character of the audience, marriage as a theme and Dianeira’s identification with the female audience are better projected by the radio play as a medium. Wilson identifies three key aspects of the radio play, especially in Britain and Canada, that promote the feminist politics of Dianeira: first, its construction of the visual through the auditory; second, its mass diffusion through inexpensive technologies; and third, its reception by individual audience members in the privacy of their homes and cars. The female audience of the radio play resembles Dianeira, who was a listener throughout her life, in a patriarchal society where history is written in masculinist terms. Wertenbaker thus politicises the medium of radio drama. As Wilson puts it, radio drama has a “potential for a radical politics by potentially engaging a wide range of people in the project of imagining a more equitable world.” 14

Apart from the aforementioned scholarly views, I believe that the medium of the radio play facilitates Wertenbaker’s dramaturgical purpose to turn the story of Dianeira into a public oral testimony of patriarchal oppression throughout the centuries. In this respect, the radio play is an aesthetically and politically ideal medium for Dianeira’s feminist objectives. Wertenbaker’s conception of theatre as a force of social and political change is served by the medium of radio, which offers easy access to a limitless audience. Radio, a medium of information, communication and entertainment at the same time, associates the fictional with the real. Thus, Dianeira’s story, although a fictional story, can trigger social and political reform by increasing the awareness of the audience, which is also the humanistic objective that concludes the written form of Wertenbaker’s version.

The Ideological Background

Working Definitions

Attempting to explore the way feminism(s) and humanism take form and meaning in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira, as well as the way they are interrelated in the play, I offer some working definitions of the major ideological concepts that I use for my argumentation below. The concepts being discussed are: first, second and third wave feminisms, postfeminism, radical feminism, socialist-Marxist feminism, liberal feminism, transnational feminism.15 My presentation of third wave feminism is the most exhaustive, because I argue that Wertenbaker’s Dianeira resonates with discourses of third-wave feminism rather than of postfeminism. Similarly, I offer details about transnational feminism and its significant relationship to Wertenbaker’s version and Wertenbaker’s humanism. My overview is analytical also in regard to liberal feminism, whose specific core tenets I associate with humanism in Wertenbaker’s version, despite the criticism of the specific term and its theoretical approaches. Moreover, I devote a comprehensive section to Wertenbaker’s humanism and its relation to Saidian humanism. I include these definitions in a synopsis of the historical evolution of feminist political theories and movements from the end of the 19th century to the present. In constructing this ideological framework, I mostly follow the academic consensus without examining in detail all the academic debate regarding several aspects of these political theories and phenomena.

Three waves of feminism

Feminism can be defined as an intellectual and political movement that encompasses a range of views about injustices against women as women, and advocates social and political change as the remedy for these injustices.16 It has been traditionally divided by critics such as Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker into three waves. Although this type of division has been criticised by some feminist scholars and activists,17 the division is still widely used, and we use it here in order to present a comprehensible overview of the evolution of the feminist movement.

The first wave of the feminist political movement took place in the United Kingdom and the United States during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.18 Although the movement entailed a variety of claims, from contract and property rights to sexual and reproductive rights for women, the principal demand was the right to vote. In the United Kingdom, the right to vote was first granted to all women above the age of thirty who owned houses in 1918 and then, in 1928, to all women above the age of twenty-one. In the United States, the nineteenth amendment, in 1919, gave women the vote in all states.

Critics identify the second wave of feminist activity as occurring from the early 1960s through to the late 1980s. Indeed, the second-wave movement is considered still alive alongside the third-wave movement. Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949, published in English in 1953) and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) were instrumental in triggering second-wave feminism. The major concern of the second wave is to battle social, political and cultural inequalities and to end discrimination against women. The slogan “the personal is political,” coined by the feminist Carol Hanisch, became the motto of the second-wave movement, manifesting the second wave’s prevalent tendency to politicise aspects of the private lives of women so as to reveal the underlying sexist power structures.

The third-wave feminist movement traces its origins to the efforts of black feminists in the mid-1980s to highlight the significance of race as a contributing factor in the formation of subjectivity.19 A key figure in the third wave was the African American feminist Gloria Jean Watkins, known by the pseudonym bell hooks, who, in her book Feminist theory from margin to center (1984), criticised the second wave for ignoring the race and class divisions among women. Third-wave feminism therefore emerged in the early 1990s both as a response to what was regarded as the “failures” of the second wave and as a reaction to the backlash against the initiatives and movements of the second wave. Rebecca Walker is regarded as the coiner of the term third wave. She used this term in a 1992 article on feminism published in Ms. magazine under the title ‘‘Becoming the Third Wave.’’20

In her article, “What Is Third-Wave Feminism?” (2008) Claire Snyder offers an overview of the third-wave movement, presenting its relationship with the second wave and its distinctive characteristics.21 She convincingly argues that despite third-wave feminists’ attempt to differentiate themselves from the second-wave movement, in fact the third wave sprang from the pro-sex clan of the second wave and shares much of the agenda of the second wave, even if with a different approach and perspective.

Snyder considers the third wave to be addressing specific theoretical problems that arose within the second wave. First, the intersectionality and the multiperspectivity of the third wave addresses the collapse of the category “women” of the second wave. To put it simply, the claim of the second wave to a common “female essence or nature” and a common “female experience” is replaced with the third wave’s insistence on the different individual female experiences that different class, race and national identities necessitate for women. Second, in response to the sex wars22 of the second wave, the third-wave movement adopts “an inclusive and non-judgmental approach that refuses to police the boundaries of the feminist political,” as Snyder puts it.23 Third, as a feminist response to postmodernism, the third-wave movement embraces “multivocality over synthesis” and “action over theoretical justification.”24 It responds to the fall of the grand narratives of modernity, such as Marxism, and to the rise of poststructuralism, deconstruction and postmodernism within academia.25 Snyder considers the third wave to be a tactical response of feminism to the conditions of postmodernity rather than itself a postmodernist stage of feminism. She also characterises the third wave as “a more inclusive and accommodating version of feminism” because of its association with postmodernism.26

The detailed evaluation of material from the third-wave literature, especially that offered in Leslie Heywood’s and Rebecca Walker’s edited volume Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism (1997), allows further insights into the ideological character of the third-wave movement.27 It is argued, for example, that the third-wave movement calls into question the validity and the usefulness of attempts to define the varied and complex terminology of feminist political theory.28 Third-wave feminists regard feminism as “something individual to each feminist”29 and they “embrace a multiplicity of identities.”30 Heywood defines the third wave as “a form of inclusiveness.”31 This inclusiveness encompasses not only the different societal, racial and national identities among women, but also the multiple possible identities within an individual woman. Heywood accepts that the third wave’s concept of identity includes notions of contradiction, multiplicity and ambiguity that resonate with postmodernist critiques of the unified self and its engagement with the fluidity of sex and gender identity.32

The slogan “the personal is political” is still the core of third-wave feminism, but the third wave is more interracial and multicultural than the second wave.33 Third-wave feminists see themselves as advocates of a gender activism that serves a broader agenda for social, economic and environmental justice.34 Snyder characterises the third wave as a “diverse”, “antifoundationalist”, “multiperspectival”, “sex-radical version of feminism”, “inclusive of all,” demanding the constant engagement of participants in the same way as radical democracy.35


Postfeminists believe that women achieved second-wave goals, and are critical of third-wave feminism.36 The term was first used to describe a backlash against second-wave feminism in the 1980s. Postfeminist texts continued to appear in the 1990s, and today the term is used as an umbrella term for various theories that critically approach feminist discourses. Postfeminism has received criticism from scholars and activists. Susan Faludi in her book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women argues that the backlash against the second wave distorted the content of feminism and led to the feminist movement being blamed for several of women’s problems in the late 1990s, even though these were mainly fabricated by the media. According to Faludi, this backlash manifested as a conservative reaction to female achievements in the social arena of the equal-rights battle. Even so, as McRobie has shown, the prefix “post” creates the false impression that equality has been achieved and women now can concentrate on the pursuit of something else.37

Sub-movements and theoretical schools of feminism

Apart from the division into waves, feminism has been divided into sub-movements reflecting various theoretical approaches, which originate from the first wave and pass through the second wave into the third wave of feminism. I offer here an overview of radical feminism, socialist-Marxist feminism, liberal feminism and transnational feminism.38

Radical feminists support the complete overturning of social structures and institutions, which they regard as inherently patriarchal.39 They argue that political reform is not enough and that only the eradication of established social practices and institutions can be a viable solution to the problem of patriarchal oppression against women. They regard women’s oppression as the result of the exercise of male authority in a patriarchally organised social hierarchy. Radical cultural feminists advocate the idea of a common “female nature” or “female essence” with the aim of promoting what they consider unappreciated female qualities. They regard the difference between the sexes as culturally constructed and not biologically defined. Radical cultural feminism emphasises female oppression not only by the state and its establishments, but also, and indeed foremost, by the all-pervasive power of patriarchal culture. Radical cultural feminists propose reforms that extend beyond the legal and political spheres. They advocate a vision of a broader cultural and social change as a means of reaching full equality between the sexes. Radical separatist feminists argued for complete female abstinence from any personal and political role presupposing male interference, including heterosexual relationships.

For socialist-Marxist feminists, gender inequality is related to the class inequality in the capitalist system. Women’s labour, both in the domestic environment and in the public domain, is either unpaid or underpaid. Marxist feminists relate feminism’s battle against inequality to Marx’s theory of class oppression and class struggle in a capitalist society. Some socialist feminists, however, argue in favour of the separation of gender and class categories. They do not regard gender oppression simply as a subcategory of class oppression in capitalism.40

Liberal feminism consists of liberal political philosophy and various modes of feminist philosophy.41 Liberal feminism advocates women’s personal and political autonomy. Personal autonomy is defined as “living a life of one’s own choosing”, and political autonomy as “being co-author of the conditions under which one lives.” Autonomy is based on the principle of free choice and on internal and external conditions that allow this principle to materialise. These conditions are called “enabling conditions” by the liberal feminists.42 The majority of liberal feminists acknowledge that women’s personal and political autonomy is undermined by the “patriarchal nature of inherited traditions and institutions.” They regard paternalistic political and moral laws as a misuse of state power.43

Liberal feminists underline the importance of the capacity for reflection and imagination, often violated by patriarchally organised family life, as a precondition for personal autonomy.44. Some liberal feminists adopt Rawls’ contractualist liberal theory of justice in their advocacy of political autonomy.45 They argue that the current social structure is unfair in its distribution of benefits and burdens and that the patriarchal nature of inherited traditions and institutions is one of the reasons for this injustice.46 Okin argues that just families with “equality and reciprocity” are a prerequisite for the implementation of Rawls’ theory of justice.47 Okin’s argument connects personal with political autonomy into an inseparable unity.

There are many subcategories of liberal-feminist theory, which often critique each other. Comprehensive liberal feminists ground their theory in moral doctrines, whereas political liberal feminists ground their theory in political values. Both comprehensive and political liberal feminists reject the dichotomy between the private and public spheres, which they regard as a source of oppression and inequality against women.

Liberal feminism has been criticised from many different points of view. Some argue that liberal feminism is not liberal enough.48 Comprehensive liberal feminism criticises political liberal feminism for not being feminist enough, since it accepts the public values of a society that remains patriarchal.49 Other feminist positions attack liberal feminism for what they call its “moral individualism.”50 Conservatives stress the loss of liberation that the realisation of liberal feminist position would presuppose in its restructuring and reforming of social relationships and institutions.51 Multicultural feminists argue that liberal feminism projects only one comprehensive conception of the good life, ignoring the various conceptions in a multicultural society.52 Nonetheless, liberal feminism is generally acknowledged as one of the most significant subcategories of feminist movement, along with radical feminism and socialist-Marxist feminism.

Transnational feminism emphasises the different experiences that women have around the globe.53 In contrast to the global feminism of the second wave movement, which based the need for solidarity among women on the shared experience of patriarchal oppression, transnational feminism is grounded in the political commitment of individuals to challenge injustice and oppression. Transnational feminism advocates intersectionality, an approach to feminist issues that considers class, race and ethnicity. Transnational feminism also advocates concrete specificity and self-reflexivity. In other words, it focuses on specific processes of globalisation with the aim of making it fairer, viewing its own theories with a critical eye.

Feminism(s) and Wertenbaker’s Dianeira

In her interviews, Wertenbaker clearly states her conception of feminism as a broad ideological movement in progress and beyond fixed definition. When asked if she “accepted the radical feminist label often attached to her work,” she answered:

No. Because I don’t think people know what they [critics] mean when they say ‘radical feminist.’ I don’t know how I got that reputation. People used to ask me if I was a feminist, or a feminist writer. Well, of course I’m a feminist, but what does that mean? What’s so good about feminism is that it is so broad.54
Wertenbaker is a playwright and a translator, not a political philosopher. Her engagement with feminist ideas and terminology resists classification in a strict sense. Nonetheless, I will sketch the evolution of those of her ideas that testify to feminist awareness, paying particular attention to the various feminist resonances in Dianeira. The purpose of this analysis is not to attach a label to Wertenbaker and her version of Sophocles’ Trachiniae, but rather to provide a better understanding of the complex ideological discourse that unfolds in the play.

Wertenbaker’s ideological engagement with feminism has undergone several stages of evolution throughout her career as a playwright.55 She combined various elements originating from different feminist positions. She moved from a position very close to what could be labelled “radical feminism” in the late eighties to a more “inclusive feminist position” in the last decade of the twentieth century. Wertenbaker called for a new type of feminism, which would respect women’s individuality without advocating for the backlash theory of the nineties. She remained feminist, whilst asking for reform of the movement, especially the second wave of feminism, which she considered dismissive of women’s maternal and wifely roles.56

Wertenbaker’s feminism of the nineties, as reflected in Dianeira, her literary output of the period and her interviews, belongs to the third-wave movement, broadly defined, and not to postfeminism. Wertenbaker avoids definitions and adopts a broad agenda of social and political reform. She is preoccupied not only with gender, but also with the impact of race, class, nationality and sexuality on the formation of identity. She castigates any form of discrimination and inequality. In this respect, “intersectionality” and “multiperspectivity” can fairly be attributed to Wertenbaker’s literary output of this period. Wertenbaker’s insistence on the need for profound social and political change, which will eliminate inequality and injustice from the family, the nation and the globe, shows that she distances herself from the backlash argument that equality has been achieved and that therefore women should undertake other endeavours.

Wertenbaker’s feminism of the nineties, therefore, can be regarded as a feminist response to postmodernism, since in several of her works it is combined with postcolonial insights.57 In other works, Wertenbaker deals with the fall of the grand narratives of modernity, such as outmoded forms of Western feminism and Marxism.58 In Dianeira, the postmodern element can be traced in the fluidity of gender identity, which is emphatically presented throughout the play as socially constructed.59 It can also be traced in contradictions and ambiguities as inherent elements of identity, with Dianeira’s suicide being the climax of this inner tension.60

“Transnational” or “cross-border” feminism is another strand of Wertenbaker’s thought.61 She joins other female playwrights of the 1990s in advocating the idea of a transnational participatory democracy based on equality, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, leading to a profound change of family and nation.62 Wertenbaker’s transnational feminism can be seen as part of the third-wave feminism discourse, since it accepts the multitude and the diversity of female identities instead of investing in the universal female identity and experience of second wave’s global feminism. In Dianeira, the transnational feminist element can be found in the location where the narration of the story takes place, a “Kafeneion.” The word recalls Wertenbaker’s idea of “Café Europa,” the vision of a multicultural and multinational Europe in which any form of discrimination and inequality will be erased.63 The explicit reference to the Balkan Wars at the very end of the play (D. pp. 371, 374), which connects Sophocles’ Trachiniae to contemporary manifestations of violence, is another element suggesting transnational feminist problematics.64 Gender inequality and personal violence extends itself to political injustice and violence on an international level. Wertenbaker’s transnational feminism is related to the humanistic ideal of peaceful coexistence without coercion that will be discussed below.

Echoes of liberal feminism are persistent in the play and intertwined with humanistic spirit. Apart from a humanistic element that will be further treated below, the value of human intellect and will stressed in Dianeira is associated with the liberal feminist idea that women have the same intellectual capacities as men.65 The value ascribed to reflection and imagination, both as a formative element of Dianeira’s subjectivity and as form of defence against patriarchy, also recalls liberal feminist ideas.66 The extension of the corrosive implications of gender inequality from family to nation reflects liberal feminist problematics, apart from transnational feminism.67 The same goes for the condemnation of the paternalistic political and moral laws in the play.68 The emphasis on personal and political autonomy in Dianeira, with the reclamation of a new personal and political identity being the principal movement of the play, recalls liberal feminism as well.

In Wertenbaker’s Dianeira, we can also find single coexisting elements of various strands of feminism, such as radical, socialist-Marxist and liberal, as well as common elements of all feminist positions. Two dominant ideas in Dianeira, the identification of the personal with the political and the claim to free female agency and subjectivity, are common elements of all major feminist positions.69 The feminist rewriting of an ancient Greek myth is an element of all feminist positions. The idea that patriarchy is the source of personal and political crisis is an element of radical feminism.70 The preoccupation with violence, which is related to male sexual desire, is also a radical feminist element.71 The preoccupation with motherhood that characterises the play is an element of both radical and liberal feminism.72

Furthermore, the technique of historicization, which is deployed in Dianeira with the use of Irene as a second narrator and the complexity of a narrative constructed by different media and different temporal levels, is an element of socialist-Marxist feminist theatre.73 The same is true of the idea that female labour must get paid, which is repeatedly mentioned for the case of Irene.74 The last scene, with the persistent silence of Iole representing the impasse of feminism’s rigid forms and the need for a new type of feminism, helps create the last impression from the play.75 It adds the dimension of self-reflexivity, which is an element of third-wave feminism.

Wertenbaker’s Humanism and Saidian Humanism

Wertenbaker’s conception of feminism as a form of humanism is clearly stated in her interviews. Wertenbaker, on being asked how she would define feminism, answers, “I can’t. I see feminism as humanism, and the questioning of authority, any authority, and therefore male authority since most authority is male. But beyond that, I can’t define feminism.”76 She openly proclaims her attraction to humanism, which she relates to classical Greece in another interview with Michael Billington: “What I love about the Greeks is that they’re trying to define what a human being is about.”77

Wertenbaker’s position regarding humanism during the 1980s and 1990s is seen by critics as pioneering, since the reclamation of humanism occurred only after Edward Said’s preface to the republication of Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis in 2003.78 Sara Freeman connects the cross-cultural and translatorial elements of Wertenbaker’s plays with a type of humanism that, like Saidian humanism, moves “between an inside view of culture to an outside view of culture.”79 In other words, the coexistence, the juxtaposition and the intermingling of various literary and ideological elements from literary pieces of different spatial and temporal origin within the same play offer a synthetic and multiperspectival view of the cultures that produced them. This synthetic literary approach is well attuned to Wertenbaker’s humanistic vision of human coexistence without discrimination, injustice and violence. But what exactly is Wertenbaker’s humanism and what is its relation to Saidian humanism? I will first offer an overview of Saidian humanism and then I will analyse its similarities and differences to Wertenbaker’s humanism.

Said’s humanism offered a vision of “cultural coexistence without coercion,” as Emily Apter puts it in a comprehensive analysis.80 Humanism meant for Said the “synthetic approach to different cultures” and the belief in the ability of literature and translation to ascribe value to human individuality. The importance of “human intellectual power and will” is underlined by Said in his introduction to Auerbach (M, xxii). According to Said, humanism is grounded in a depository and network of shared cultural and intellectual experience, which is created by the translation practices of the important oeuvres of the world, Western and non-Western, from the early Middle Ages to the present. Part of Saidian humanism was the embrace of Goethe’s Weltliteratur, a global literature, Western and non-Western, that conveys for Said a humanistic vision despite and beyond the different set of beliefs of the major religious systems, such as Christianity and Islam.

Humanism and politics were inseparable in his work. Apter characterises Said’s humanism as “emancipatory” and associates it with Frantz Fanon’s humanism. As core values of this type of humanism, she identifies individual freedom, universal human rights, anti-imperialism, release from economic dependency, and self-determination for the unprivileged. Aamir Mufti has shown that Said developed a “critical secularism” out of humanism, which was particularly associated with a minority consciousness, the feeling of “dislocation, statelessness, psychic un-homing.” 81 Having been raised as a Christian in Palestine and Egypt, where Muslim culture was prevalent, Said seized this “critical secularism” emerging from his humanism as a means of moving beyond the religious and cultural tensions of his environment. For Said, humanism encompassed universal moral principles that constituted an expression of the metaphysical order beyond traditional religious boundaries. This is what Apter calls “a repressed politics of transcendence.”82

Wertenbaker’s humanism has much in common with Said’s. Her multicultural upbringing as an Franco-American raised in the Basque area of south-west France gave her a sensitivity to social and political issues very close to Said’s “minority consciousness position.”83 “Othering” due to race, ethnicity, class and gender occupies a central place in Wertenbaker’s literary production. Humanism becomes a force for resistance and the moral foundation of a reformed political vision. In this sense, Wertenbaker’s humanism is as inseparable from politics as Said’s. They share a commitment to human rights, freedom, and social and economic justice on a national and global scale. They both believe in the liberating power of human intellect and will. Humanism conveys for both the vision of a global humanised world materialised by human intellect and will.

They also both participate in literary humanism, Wertenbaker as a playwright and translator, Said as a scholar of comparative literature. They both value world literature, Western and non-Western, which crosses spatial and temporal borders, and they both value translation as a practice of intercultural discourse that, like world literature, defies limitations of space and time. Wertenbaker not only translated works from various languages, but also incorporated other works of literature in her plays, with the technique of “a story within a story.”84 This technique consistently serves to initiate a vivid dialogue between different cultures, reframing the spatial and temporal references of the integrated oeuvres and thus allowing renewed types of interconnectedness to emerge.85 Both she and Said saw the world’s interconnection through world literature and translation as a depository of shared learnedness and a source of shared humanism.

There are two distinctive elements in Wertenbaker’s humanism, however. The first is a bold emphasis on gender and gender inequality. The second is absolute secularism, which eliminates any sense of the divine, either as metaphysical principle or as religious belief. Wertenbaker’s humanism is informed by her underlying feminist awareness. The critique of social injustice is articulated with a feminist vocabulary, because the primary category of injustice that Wertenbaker acknowledges is that of gender inequality, which generates all the other forms of injustice, extending its corrosive impact from the family to the nation and the globe. Similarly, Wertenbaker’s absolute secularism is related to the feminist belief in political change only by political means. Critical secularism allowed Said to navigate between Christianity and Islam and to project a vision of paradise as a “perfected secular society.” Humanism is for Said the intellectual space, if there is any, where God can be traced in the form of a universal principle of justice. Wertenbaker’s humanism is the antidote to the savagery of social and political reality, but it is an antidote exclusively intellectual and political in nature.

Humanism and Feminism in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira

Wertenbaker offers a reformed vision of both humanism and feminism, based on their intermingling. Wertenbaker’s humanism is liberated from its androcentric tradition, since it incorporates feminism as a principal medium of critique of established sexist power structures. On the other hand, Wertenbaker’s feminism assumes a broad agenda of political reform, where gender inequality is the beginning and not the exclusive end of a global humanised world. In this respect, Wertenbaker’s mixture of feminism and humanism resonates with the inclusiveness of the third wave feminism and its preoccupation with issues of class, race and sexuality. It also resonates with the principal tenets of transnational feminism. The emphasis on human intellectual power and will relates Wertenbaker’s humanism to liberal feminist positions.

The combination of feminism and humanism in Wertenbaker’s work has provoked critical discussion of the coexistence of interrogatory and affirmative elements in her plays and thus of the relationship of these plays to postmodernism in the 1980s and beyond.86 Interrogatory elements were regarded as arising from the feminist and postcolonial insights that called into question the value of society and its institutions. On the other hand, the affirmative element was to be found in the value ascribed to community and culture, which was primarily humanistic in nature. The possibility of an unproblematic coexistence of interrogatory elements, suggestive of postmodernist problematics, with the affirmative elements of humanistic orientation was shown by critics of the British theatre in the 1980s.87 The interrogative affirmation has been acknowledged as a great virtue of Wertenbaker’s plays, such as The Grace of Mary Traverse, Our Country’s Good, The Love of the Nightingale and Dianeira.88

In Dianeira, the interrogation of established social structures and institutions is mostly articulated with feminist vocabulary, which becomes a very effective tool for challenging patriarchy in Wertenbaker’s hands. The critical view of Wertenbaker also includes feminism itself in its rigid forms. The affirmative element coincides with the projection of the feminist and humanistic objectives of gender equality and peaceful coexistence. It is with this vision that Dianeira concludes, prescribing the new type of humanistic feminism, or feministic humanism, that Wertenbaker proposes. This is envisioned as more inclusive of both sexes, more transnational and more compatible with humanistic objectives. It reflects the ideological discourse of the nineties, since whatever the form of categorisation and the selection of terminology for sketching the feminist theory and activity of that period, the emphasis on race, class, and ethnicity, as complementary to gender aspects of subjectivity, is indisputable.89

The handling of anger, which Wertenbaker regards as the basic motif in her version, testifies to the interrelation between feminism and humanism. In Dianeira anger, which acquires political character in feminist discourse, dominates the play and is the motivation for the political reform and the reclamation of a new identity sought by Wertenbaker’s heroes.90 On the other hand, human intellect and will as force of rational control of anger is a prerequisite for the establishment of a new political order and a new individual identity. Feminism, seen as a form of humanism that offers the tools and the purpose of reform in Dianeira, is therefore an ideological movement that marks Wertenbaker’s entire play.

Feminist discourse in the last part of Wertenbaker’s Dianeira

Wertenbaker’s Heracles: a static figure, patriarchy as an impasse

Wertenbaker radically changes the end of Trachiniae in Dianeira.91 Any hint of the apotheosis is purposefully omitted. Heracles’ death occurs within the limits of the play as an irreversible reality. Heracles does not undergo any process of transformation, as in Trachiniae, because as a personification of patriarchy he cannot embody political change. On the contrary, what his case discloses is the way patriarchy perpetuates itself, even if with destructive results for its conveyors. Furthermore, the different presentation of Heracles’ last orders and the different meaning of “filial obedience” without a metaphysical dimension allow Wertenbaker to elaborate her criticism of patriarchy, which is more intense, extensive and obvious than the criticism of patriarchy in Trachiniae.92

The beginning of Irene’s narration of Heracles’ agony is indicative of the feminist problematics of the play. “Now we have the great man, once strong and beautiful, the man of great works, ravaged and humiliated by disease and now we have his anger and the scarring of his son.” (D. p. 362). Wertenbaker overturns the masculine model of a self-made and self-reliant man, echoing the feminist idea of “relational autonomy”: that an agent is embedded in society through relationships of care and interdependence.93 Heracles’ physical and emotional weakening offers Wertenbaker an ideal opportunity to project the feminist alternative model of selfhood. “Now” is the time that Heracles’ identity, along with the authority granted by patriarchy, will be tested by circumstances.94 Anger is the ultimate manifestation of Heracles’ attempt to preserve this identity at any cost. It is ironic that the patriarchal ideology which determines Heracles’ identity results in the irrevocable loss of that identity (D. p. 364), (Tr. vv. 1105-1106). “The scarring of his son” unveils the mechanisms of the initiation of the young male into patriarchy.

Heracles’ incitement to Hyllos to choose between his mother and his father shows that despite his suffering Heracles remains attached to patriarchy to the end (D. p. 364), (Tr. vv. 1064-1069).95 Heracles’ enduring attachment to patriarchy is also revealed by one of Wertenbaker’s major changes to the story. In contrast to Trachiniae (Tr. vv. 1174, 613), where Heracles’ awareness of the coincidence96 of the oracles results in relief from pain, illumination and transformation,97 in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira (D. p. 366) Heracles’ dominant feeling is meaninglessness, even after the recognition of the oracles and up to his death.

The way Wertenbaker translates the moment of Heracles’ illumination in Trachiniae shows the different meaning that the coincidence of the oracles acquires in Dianeira. “Λαμπρὰ συμβαίνει” (Tr. v. 1174), “Now it all twists together and glistens in the light. My destiny made manifest. What was all that work for? Nothing. Vanity. Passing.” (D. p. 367), (Tr. vv. 1172-1175). The recognition of a metaphysical order that contains and at the same time surpasses the individual in Trachiniae is replaced in Wertenbaker by the persistent feeling of nothingness. This feeling results from the absence of the metaphysical element. Heracles understands the content of the oracles, but he does not consider their coincidence to be meaningful, metaphysically essential and formative of a new identity for him, as they were in Trachiniae.98 Heracles’ feeling of nothingness recalls Dianeira’s feeling of nothingness (D. pp. 344, 360), exposing the impasse that patriarchy generates for both genders in Wertenbaker.

In contrast to Trachiniae, where he personifies transformation (Tr. vv. 1174, 613), Wertenbaker’s Heracles is a static figure like Dianeira. Wertenbaker emphasises Dianeira’s motionlessness in order to stress the female isolation and exclusion from the public sphere in a patriarchal society.99 In Trachiniae, Dianeira’s isolation within the domestic environment is also implicitly criticised,100 but the criticism of patriarchy does not escalate to the extent of eliminating Heracles’ transformation. Wertenbaker deprives Heracles of this masculinist privilege in her version, stressing the criticism of patriarchy far more strongly than Trachiniae did.

Whereas, in Trachiniae, Heracles’ orders to Hyllos are implicitly presented as divinely ordained, although their purpose is not revealed (Tr. vv. 1175-1178, 1204, 1247-1248),101 in Dianeira they are presented as Heracles’ personal wishes (D. p. 367). Heracles’ incitement to Hyllos, “Do what I ask with joy and with due respect for the law that orders sons always to obey their fathers” (D. p. 367), has no metaphysical reference as in Trachiniae, but it makes explicit the institutionalised form that the arbitrary male authority acquires in patriarchy.

Irene’s comment on the second order about Hyllos’ marriage to Iole also uncovers the absence of Heracles’ transformation and the lack of the metaphysical dimension in Wertenbaker. “Listen to the gasp from Hyllos. This intractable and totally self-absorbed father, asking for what now? And where can Hyllos turn? To Zeus, his father’s father, who seems to have mocked Heracles all along?” (D. p. 369). Heracles remains “intractable” and “self-absorbed” exactly because the coincidence of the oracles was not a moment of transformation for him as in Trachiniae. “Zeus” is considered the ideological foundation of patriarchy in Dianeira and not the symbol of an all-embracing metaphysical order as in Trachiniae.

The way Heracles imposes his last wishes on Hyllos shows the authoritative nature of patriarchy. Heracles says to Hyllos, “Obey, ask no questions” (D. p. 370). Asking no questions means silencing dissenting voices. Heracles’ incitement to Hyllos reflects the same spirit of patriarchal oppression. “Don’t turn over your actions so much when I am the one commanding them” (D. p. 370). Hyllos protests against the exercise of arbitrary authority by Heracles. “Where are the rules? All my life I loved you and trusted you” (D. p. 370). Wertenbaker shows here that the established moral and political laws of patriarchy lack moral legitimacy. They may be dominant in culture and society, but they are opposed to moral and political principles as acknowledged by feminist political theory and practice. Hyllos’ reaction shows the oppressive nature of patriarchy for the young male, who has not yet been fully absorbed by its ideological distortions. The themes of repressed questions and of rules transgressed by patriarchy are favourites of Wertenbaker’s,102 expressed also in The Love of the Nightingale (LN: Sc. 20, 47), another rewriting of an ancient myth.

Irene’s comment on the power and the mechanisms of patriarchy is revealing. “It could go on, this argument, but in the end, fathers do eat their sons if they can, there is no other myth that rings so true . . . You do what your fathers tell you in the end, one way or the other, even now, you’ll die by their order. You can hear that death from here, right now, taking place up north. That’s another story. A story of obedience” (D. p. 371). The violence of patriarchy is transferred from the individual to the society and from the family to the nation.103 The reference to the Balkan Wars—“You can hear that death from here, right now, taking place up north. That’s another story. A story of obedience”—associates the patriarchal violence of the past with contemporary wars. In this way, Heracles’ case is politicised and acquires exemplary value as Dianeira’s did previously (D. pp. 359, 360, 362). His relationship with Hyllos becomes the metonym of a continuum of patriarchal violence that transcends society and history, exactly as Dianeira became the symbol of female entrapment in a suffocating patriarchal culture that perpetuates itself from antiquity to the present.

Another of Irene’s comments on Hyllos’ case shows the mechanisms of the transmission of patriarchy. “And now the long arm of Heracles bows down the head of his son and turns this young man full of hope and life and possible love into a man overflowing with resentment, anger. And so it continues” (D. p. 371). It becomes clear that gender identity even for the male is a social construct and not a natural quality. This idea opposes biological determinism and shows feminist awareness.104 The conception of the socially constructed identity allows change to occur both on a personal and on a political level, which in feminist thought are interrelated.105 In this respect, Hyllos’ anger manifests a continuous demand for change, apart from the violence of patriarchy.106

There is a sharp distinction between the notion of “filial obedience” in Trachiniae and in Wertenbaker’s version. In Trachiniae (Tr. vv. 1174–1178, 1193, 1204, 1208–1209, 1239–1240, 1247–1248, 1259–1263), it signifies the willing subordination of the self to an all-encompassing metaphysical order.107 In Wertenbaker, it signifies the unwilling subordination of the individual agency to the arbitrary authority of the “father,” the ultimate symbol of patriarchy. It is suggestive that Wertenbaker capitalizes “father” (D. pp. 365–371). The different notion that “filial obedience” acquires in Trachiniae and in Wertenbaker’s version has implications for the success of Heracles’ transformation. In Trachiniae, such obedience facilitates his transformation, since it signifies the loss of self-centredness in favour of a metaphysical law that is transubstantiated to moral and political law with the active interference of free human agency.108 In Wertenbaker’s version, it obstructs his transformation, since it signifies the imposition of arbitrary patriarchal law without moral or metaphysical justification.

The handling of the apotheosis is another striking difference between Trachiniae and Wertenbaker’s Dianeira. In contrast to Trachiniae (Tr. vv. 1208-1211), where the apotheosis remains purposefully open-ended,109 in Wertenbaker’s version there is a definite reference to Heracles’ death. Irene’s description does not allow any other reading. “The procession made its way slowly up the mountain. There were no more cries from Heracles. Iole and the women of Trachis watched as his wrecked body burnt down to ash” (D. p. 372).110 Heracles has the same end as Dianeira in Wertenbaker’s version (D. p. 362). The feminist rewriting reverses the traditional narrative that favoured the male. Heracles as the personification of patriarchal authority par excellence in Dianeira does not deserve any end but the permanent dissolution of his identity. Heracles’ end proves the incapacity of patriarchy to include any reformed political vision that could trigger personal and political change.111 It also shows, through the eradication of the metaphysical dimension, that political change can be possible only by political means, namely the abolition of patriarchy, which is clearly a feminist idea.112 Heracles’ death, however, like Dianeira’s, underlines the difficulty of this endeavour. Dianeira’s reclamation of a new identity remains incomplete in Wertenbaker. Heracles’ experience of physical and mental torture does not result in a newly acquired awareness and thus a new identity. At best, change is “slow and incremental” in the vision of the world that Wertenbaker conveys in her Dianeira.113

Wertenbaker’s Hyllos: the Anti-Heracles figure, patriarchy transmitted and disrupted

Wertenbaker’s additions and the modifications purposefully upgrade Hyllos’ role in Dianeira. Irene’s comments and Hyllos’ extensive remarks serve her dramaturgical design. The purpose of the upgrade is to present Hyllos as a positive male figure in contrast to the negative one personified by Heracles and thus to critique not only patriarchy and its mechanisms of transmission but also the most rigid and uncompromising forms of feminism itself. This criticism is seen most clearly in Hyllos’ confrontation with Iole at the end of the play (D. pp. 372–373).

Irene introduces Hyllos as a “young man who at the beginning of this story is not marked or mapped yet – that is to come” (D. p. 328), thus manifesting the power of patriarchy to impose and perpetuate itself. Hyllos will personify initiation into the patriarchal order along with its consequences, the “marked or mapped” identity that implies loss of individuality and free agency. Crucially, though, the recognition of these consequences will render Hyllos’ ideological entrapment temporary and not permanent as in Heracles’ case.

Irene’s description of Hyllos associates the natural beauty of youth with the moral purity of the male before his initiation into patriarchy. “Comes Hyllos, himself with that first golden beauty of the young male, untouched by trouble or by doubt. He is a son, a promise, hope” (D. pp. 330-331). The theme of the child who bears the hope of the future is a favourite of Wertenbaker.114 For Wertenbaker, Heracles is deprived of all his grandeur in Trachiniae (Tr. vv. 1044-1045), and she transfers this reduction to Hyllos in Dianeira (D. p. 328). The purpose of this transition is to sharply distinguish the past from the future, and thereby to inculpate the traditional authority of patriarchy rather than maleness in general.

Wertenbaker reinforces Hyllos’ criticism of his father and of the type of heroism he displays. Before the encounter with Heracles, Hyllos says of his father, “It’s not as if I know him that well, this heroic father of mine… And always his unspoken name hovers over us. Well, someone will tell me where he is because everybody in Greece is always talking about the great man, my father Heracles” (D. p. 334). Heracles’ triumph in the public sphere means abandonment of the private sphere and repressed anger felt not only by Dianeira but also by his son.115 Similarly, Wertenbaker stresses Hyllos’ emotional attachment to Dianeira (D. p. 331), which will be abruptly reversed after Hyllos’ initiation into patriarchy. The corrosive impact of patriarchy on the maternal bond is stressed.116

Hyllos’ initiation into patriarchy coincides with his entrance into the public domain after Dianeira’s advice to leave the domestic environment117 and search for his father. This is a journey of self-discovery, a theme which often appears in Wertenbaker. The merging of “his father’s shadow” with “his own shadow” (D. p. 333), as Irene describes it, symbolises exactly this process. The fact that this initiation results from Dianeira’s exhortation, which nevertheless aimed at restoring Heracles in the domestic environment, shows that patriarchy cannot be overthrown from within, by means of patriarchy.118

The formative power of patriarchy is shown by Irene’s comment, which is an addition of Wertenbaker. “And he was innocent, casting almost no shadow, a son who loved his mother and searched for his father, normal. Now his story begins, his own terrible story” (D. p. 355). Hyllos’ “story” begins “now,” at the moment of his entrance into the public domain and patriarchy. The word “story” recalls the historical narratives that traditional masculinist historiography shaped, as well as the quality of patriarchal history to transcend and define the “story” of individual lives. It is another form of the interrelation of the personal with the political in Wertenbaker’s version, which aims exactly at remedying the misconceptions incorporated in these narratives.

Hyllos’ attachment to patriarchy is temporary, however. Heracles’ orders shatter Hyllos’ belief in his father and in his identity as determined by patriarchy. Irene’s comment vividly depicts this change, “Our parents are the great heroes of our mythology, our Olympian gods. To watch them fall is unbearable . . . Hyllos then begins to feel the most painful anger of all, anger against oneself” (D. p. 364). The negative feelings trigger the process of the formulation of a new identity for Hyllos, beyond patriarchy. Hyllos now defends his mother (D. p. 366), (Tr. vv. 1138-1139), and stresses the motive for her fatal action, the protection of her family. Hyllos’ liberation from the domination of his father, and of patriarchy at large, however, is a mental struggle that occurs beyond Heracles’ physical presence, as Irene’s comment shows. “All his life Hyllos longed for the intimacy and the confidence of his great and absent father . . . He can’t know that when parents die they behave no differently than when they lived” (D. p. 366).

Hyllos’ fierce challenge to the divine “Father,” Zeus, seems similar to his protest in Trachiniae, but there is an important difference in the meaning it acquires within the larger context of each play. In Wertenbaker’s version, Hyllos protests, “They call themselves our fathers, Zeus called this man his own seed, his mortal son, and yet Zeus looks on his pain unmoved, if he bothers to look at all” (D. p. 372), (Tr. vv. 1264-1274). Hyllos’ complaint in Trachiniae shows his inability to reach the level of awareness that Heracles gained after the recognition of the coincidence of the oracles as a signifier of a comprehensive metaphysical and moral order. Since there is no such a recognition in Wertenbaker’s version and the metaphysical is regarded as an arbitrary projection of the patriarchal order, Hyllos’ complaint stretches the criticism of the divine to its extremes, rounding off the perception of the divine that characterises Dianeira as a whole.

Wertenbaker extends the end of Trachiniae with the addition of a confrontation between Hyllos and Iole that unfolds Wertenbaker’s criticism of feminism’s rigid forms, as well as the silent drive of the listeners of the story back to Athens that emphasises the audience’s enhanced awareness (D. pp. 372–374). Irene introduces this part thus: “There is only one more curve to the story. One morning, some years after his marriage, Hyllos went to Iole” (D. p. 372). Hyllos asks Iole to end their anger. “Iole, my life was ruined by the hatred of my parents for each other. Do you want to ruin our children?” (D. p. 373). Hyllos proposes a new beginning for Iole, her paternal city and their children: “You would be free, you could rebuild your life, the city of your father, and when this is done the children could come to you and we could end this anger” (D. p. 373). Apart from the termination of anger on personal level, Hyllos’ proposal suggests a new political beginning as well. It is essentially a proposal for ending patriarchy. While Heracles’ transformation may not occur in Wertenbaker’s version, Hyllos’ transformation serves to replace it.

Iole’s resistance and the awareness of the audience: the crisis of feminism, patriarchy demythologised

Although Wertenbaker enhances Iole’s role with the addition of the last part of her version, Iole’s silence is persistent in Dianeira, as it was in Trachiniae (Tr. v. 1275).119 Iole’s presence is sketched by Irene’s account of her words and actions.120 Irene highlights Iole’s rejection of Hyllos’ proposal to terminate their anger. “But Iole’s smile is the smile of refusal. She has suckled her children with her anger, she is her anger, how can she relinquish the anger that she is? Anger is her life, her identity, and even a not too unpleasant habit” (D. p. 373).121

Irene’s comment inculpates the most rigid forms of feminism for the perpetuation of their anger. It also underlines the need for communication between the sexes as a precondition for the abolition of patriarchy, an idea that often recurs in Wertenbaker’s plays.122 Wertenbaker, therefore, regards anger as a force of political reform, but at the same time she acknowledges its sterility if both sexes are not included in progressive political vision and action. In this respect, Wertenbaker’s position combines the two different opinions regarding the political value of anger expressed by Silver and hooks respectively.123

Irene’s narration started with the remark that the entire story will be “a story of anger” (D. p. 327). In the introduction to her version, Wertenbaker herself characterises the play as a story about anger and consequently a story about identity.124 The association of anger with identity reveals that it is an identity that undergoes a process of crisis with the need for transformation remaining unfulfilled. In a sense, the association of anger with identity at a personal level encompasses the twofold movement of anger as a force for change, and anger as resentment and impasse that Wertenbaker’s representation of Hyllos’ and Iole’s confrontation previously implied at a political level. The emphasis given to the crisis of Iole’s and Hyllos’ identity at the end of Dianeira reflects Wertenbaker’s intention to transfer the problematics of the formation of identity within patriarchy from Dianeira and Heracles to their descendants. Thus, the crisis is politicised and assumes a collective and transhistorical perspective.

The way Irene completes Iole’s story is suggestive of Wertenbaker’s intention to reverse the patriarchal myth completely. “Iole’s city was never rebuilt. The ruins are over there, you can’t see much now, but you can visit them. The family had descendants but they became scattered and unimportant. And the gods looked on, indifferent, and then they changed too and were forgotten” (D. p. 374). The famous Heracleidae of the ancient myth are replaced by the “scattered and unimportant” descendants of Wertenbaker’s version.125 This reversal disrupts the continuity of patriarchal ideology embodied by Heracles and inherited by his mythical progeny. Moreover, the “indifferent” gods who “changed too and were forgotten” are historicised by Wertenbaker and thus relativised. This change further weakens the patriarchal ideology, since the divine, which is regarded by Wertenbaker as an foundational element of patriarchal ideology throughout the play, is being deprived of its authority.

Irene concludes her narration with a mention of the fortunes of Dianeira’s story through the ages and an address to her current audience, Timberlake and her friends. “Eventually, people stopped telling the story, this terrible story of anger, and it too was forgotten. It happened so long ago. At least I believe it was a long time ago, but I am tired now, and need to rest” (D. p. 374). Irene’s comment underlines that the knowledge and the understanding of the past is a precondition for the liberation of the present and the future from traditional misconceptions such as patriarchal prejudices. Wertenbaker’s version of Trachiniae has shown that the literary handling of the ancient myth about Heracles and Dianeira, both in her version and in the ancient play, is historically framed and conditioned. The ideological load of the myth and of the traditional narratives appears relative and thus it becomes more easily subjected to feminist revision by Wertenbaker. At this stage, Wertenbaker follows the opposite movement, but with the same objective of revising the patriarchal narratives. She underlines the relativity of time, which becomes a continuity of repeated violence and repeated misconceptions due to ignorance. The line “It happened so long ago. At least I believe it was a long time ago” (D. p. 374) points in this direction. In this way, Wertenbaker underlines the necessity of disruption and change.

Timberlake, the first narrator of the story, who is purposely named after the author, Timberlake Wertenbaker, concludes Dianeira by rounding off the vicious and reciprocal circle of personal and political violence that persists from antiquity to the present. “We left her, nodding over her brandy and put a few more notes in the plate. Outside, in the clear night, we could hear the guns of the country north of the border, where there is always a war. And then we drove silently back to Athens” (D. p. 374). This is a clear reference to the Balkan Wars, which are seen as another incident of male violence in a long tradition of patriarchal aggression.126

Timberlake remarks that they “drove silently back to Athens” (D. p. 374). In contrast to the reality of ongoing violence that concludes the story of Hyllos and Iole (as it did the story of Heracles and Dianeira), Timberlake offers a slightly more positive vision at the very end of Dianeira. The silence of Timberlake and her friends after the hearing of the story is a moment of awareness similar to the moment of Heracles’ illumination in Trachiniae (Tr. v. 1174).127 There are two significant differences between Wertenbaker’s version and Trachiniae, however. First, the collective character of the audience becomes the major conveyor of change, since Hyllos’ awareness is not enough to trigger political change on its own. Second, the hearing of a story highlights the transformative power of theatre.128 These features underline Wertenbaker’s feminist belief in change only by political means and in the political character of theatre.

In the last part of Dianeira, Wertenbaker offers a closed ending in regard to Heracles’ apotheosis and an open ending in regard to the perpetuation of patriarchal violence. Iole’s unstoppable anger distinguishes female from male responsibility for the continuation of anger through successive generations.129 The open-endedness of anger and war is contrasted with the open-endedness of the awareness of the audience, the only antidote to the bleakness of personal and political reality in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira.

The humanistic vision, feminism as humanism

Wertenbaker’s engagement with humanism subtly permeates the entire play. I will analyse how several elements of Dianeira speak to humanistic ideals and objectives. I argue that the place where the narration of the story unfolds, “Kafeneion,” promotes a humanistic political agenda of multiculturalism, multinationalism and transnational participatory democracy. The reference to Athens in juxtaposition to Trachis grounds the realisation of this agenda in the power of human intellect, a clearly humanistic foundation. The handling of Dianeira’s moral agency, with the emphasis given to the lack of rational control, is another element with a humanistic message. Heracles’ lack of rational self-control as displayed in the outburst of uncontrollable violence is even more severely criticised than Dianeira’s. This criticism has profound theoretical implications, since it disengages humanism from its androcentric tradition. Finally, the audience’s awareness at the very end of the play, which is projected as an intellectual act that can trigger political action, is the final manifestation of the inseparability of humanism from politics in Wertenbaker’s version.

“Kafeneion” is the second introductory part that Wertenbaker adds in her version of Trachiniae. It is the place where narration will take place. It is also the signifier of Wertenbaker’s major political idea of “Café Europa,” which is dominant in her oeuvre.130 This is the idea of a multinational and multicultural Europe where any form of discrimination is excluded. Race, ethnicity, class and gender should not function as divisive elements of society. The society envisaged by Wertenbaker assumes a political form similar to the conception of a “transborder participatory democracy,” a European and global democracy where people and not states define the economic and political reality.131 Wertenbaker regards this form of political organisation as an ideal result of the current multinationalism and multiculturalism.132 Humanistic objectives lie at the core of this conception. Thus, the place where the story of Dianeira, a story about anger, will be retold signifies the author’s intention to revisit the political connotations of the old narrative and establish new ones.

The comment, “Trachis is more a state of mind than a place” (D. p. 327), points exactly in this direction. Wertenbaker defines Trachis as “a plain of disappointment” (D. p. 328), in sharp contrast with Athens, “the seat of logic” (D. p. 328). This characterisation of Athens functions as an implicit reference to the humanistic tradition, which, with rational thought as its principal element, emerges as the only force that can disrupt the continuity of anger and of personal and political violence.

The handling of Dianeira’s moral agency is another part of the play where the privileging of rational thought becomes evident. Although the responsibility for Dianeira’s fatal action lies mostly in the patriarchal structures that entrap her, Wertenbaker attributes to her an element of personal responsibility in her lack of rational thought. Dianeira’s response to the Chorus is a reflection on her action. “A mistake, yes, if there’s no ill intent, but how do you know what intents form in a muddled and desperate heart? And fear, fear confuses intent too. What have I done? What did I mean to do? How can I know that?” (D. p. 355). The questions that Wertenbaker adds at this point show that Dianeira’s action results from the lack of rational control.

The insistence on the value of rational thought is a major commonality between Wertenbaker’s Dianeira and Sophocles’ Trachiniae. The development of this theme in Trachiniae is more profound, however. It acquires epistemological character and a deeper association with the exploration of human responsibility (Tr. vv. 588–593, 669–670, 725–726).133 In Wertenbaker, it is less philosophical and more political. It is suggestive that Heracles’ lack of rational control is more severely criticised in Wertenbaker than Dianeira’s. Female lack of rational control results from the patriarchal restrictions that paralyse autonomous agency. On the contrary, the lack of rational thought for the male is regarded as an individual responsibility. This distinction reflects the feminist politics of the play.

Heracles’ lack of rational thought and self-control in Wertenbaker’s version is further stressed by Nessos’ comment on his action. “He didn’t have to use poison, he could have just wounded me if he couldn’t control his anger” (D. p. 349). Thus Heracles’ comment on Nessos’ monstrosity, “Beast, not to be trusted, uncontrolled appetite, ignoble in your actions” (D. p. 347), ironically refers to Heracles himself no less than to Nessos. Nessos’ question, “Why didn’t you control yourself, Heracles? You’re a man. You’re supposed to be rational” (D. p. 350), disconnects Heracles from rationality. This separation serves Wertenbaker’s purpose to disassociate rationality from masculinity and thus to offer a vision of humanism well attuned to feminism.134 Rational thought is no longer a masculine privilege, and humanism is thereby liberated from its androcentric tradition. Moreover, liberal feminism’s argument for irrational prejudices against women being the root of discrimination in patriarchy is reinforced.135 Similarly, male anger as a continuous claim for patriarchal supremacy is invalidated by its irrationality.136

The end of Wertenbaker’s version manifests her belief in humanism as well. It is suggestive that the awareness of the audience is an intellectual process (D. p. 374). This awareness reflects Wertenbaker’s idea that personal and political change is based on human intellect. Despite the common belief in the value of human intellect, there is an important difference between the conception of human knowledge in Trachiniae and in Wertenbaker’s version. In Trachiniae, human knowledge takes the form of the recognition of a pre-existing metaphysical order (Tr. v. 1174),137 an understanding limited in comparison with divine knowledge, but adequate for triggering personal and political change. In Wertenbaker’s version, however, human knowledge arises only from the human intellect and refers only to human affairs. This is the reason why the end of Trachiniae is more ambiguous than the end of Wertenbaker’s version. The former reflects the unbridgeable gap between human and divine knowledge. This is also the reason why the end of Trachiniae, despite its horror, appears more optimistic than the end of Dianeira. In Trachiniae, belief in human rationality is founded on the conception of a metaphysical and moral order that contains human intellect. The absence of such a foundation from Wertenbaker’s version renders the end of Dianeira gloomier than the end of Trachiniae.

Concluding remarks

Dianeira develops a twofold and contradictory relationship with Sophocles’ Trachiniae. Both the criticism of patriarchy and the projection of humanistic ideals in Dianeira are grounded in the literary and ideological material offered by Trachiniae. Wertenbaker confronts the patriarchal tradition of the ancient play and at the same time is inspired by its humanistic emphasis on the value of human intellect and will.

The encounter with Trachiniae offers Wertenbaker the opportunity to unfold a complex ideological discourse. Feminisms and humanism are combined to convey the vision of a more equitable and peaceful world. Wertenbaker’s feminisms in Dianeira are inclusive and intersectional. The play reverberates with the ideological discourse of third-wave and transnational feminism, along with elements of other feminist positions. Wertenbaker’s humanism in Dianeira is a secular humanism liberated from its androcentric tradition, multicultural and multinational in nature, and engaged with the ideological and literary resourcefulness of the classical material.

Wertenbaker’s revision of Trachiniae brilliantly shows the inherent potential of Greek tragedy to contribute to contemporary cultural and political discourse in various and often contradictory ways. In this respect, ancient drama’s core contribution is not to offer predetermined answers to problems that the modern world has shaped otherwise, but rather to trigger a broad range of problematics by providing us with cultural and political alternatives, either historically restored or fictional, which in any case call our misconceived certainties into question.


1Catherine Bailey’s production company, CBL, has made programmes for BBC Television, Channel Four and ITV. It is also one of the main independent suppliers of drama for BBC Radios 3 and 4. The radio play is available in the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, University of Oxford. Details on access can be found in the following websites: for an audiotape recording of the radio production of Dianeira see, <28 October 2019>; for [2 discs] of radio production of Dianeira see, <28 October 2019>.

2Timberlake Wertenbaker, Timberlake Wertenbaker: Plays 2. The Break of Day; After Darwin; Credible Witness; The Ash Girl; Dianeira (London: Faber and Faber, 2002).

3Timberlake Wertenbaker clarified her position regarding feminism in her interview on BBC Radio 4 on 20 June 1991, Writers Revealed, cited in Lizbeth Goodman, Contemporary Feminist Theatres: to Each her Own (New York: Routledge, 1993), 33–34; Nursen Gömceli, “Timberlake Wertenbaker’s ‘Radical Feminist’ Reinterpretation of a Greek Myth: The Love of the Nightingale,” AAA- Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 1 (2009): 78; Nursen Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker and Contemporary British Feminist Drama: Feminism(s) Illustrated in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s New Anatomies (1981), The Grace of Mary Traverse (1985), The Love of the Nightingale (1988), and The Break of Day (1995) (Bethesda: Academica Press, 2010), 76; and on BBC Radio 4, 5 July 2004 interview with Jenni Murray, Woman’s Hour, cited in Gömceli, “The Love of the Nightingale,” 79; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 76. For Wertenbaker and feminism see also Susan Carlson, “Issues of Identity, Nationality, and Performance: the Reception of Two Plays by Timberlake Wertenbaker,” New Theatre Quarterly 35 (1993): 278. For the conception of feminism as a form of humanism see Wertenbaker’s interview with John L. DiGaetani, A Search for a Postmodern Theater: Interviews with Contemporary Playwrights (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), 270. For critics supporting the feminist character of Wertenbaker’s plays see Ann Wilson, “Forgiving History and Making New Worlds: Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Recent Drama,” in British and Irish Drama since 1960, ed. James Acheson (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 146–60; Susan Carlson, “Language and identity in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s plays,” in The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights, eds. Elaine Aston and Janelle Reinelt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 134–49; Elaine Aston, Feminist Views on the English Stage: Women Playwrights, 1990–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 149–68; Ann Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” in International Dramaturgy: Translation and Transformations in the Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker, eds. Maya Roth and Sara Freeman (Brussels; Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2008), 209–21; Sharon Friedman, “Introduction,” in Feminist Theatrical Revisions of Classic Works: Critical Essays, ed. Sharon Friedman (Jefferson, N.C.; London: McFarland, 2009), 1–9; Maya Roth, “The Philomela Myth as Postcolonial Feminist Theater, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Love of the Nightingale,” in Feminist Theatrical Revisions of Classic Works: Critical Essays, ed. Sharon Friedman (Jefferson, N.C.; London: McFarland, 2009), 42–57; Sara Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” in Modern British Playwriting. The 1980s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations, ed. Jane Milling (London: Methuen Drama, 2012), 192–219. For feminism in Dianeira see Victoria Pedrick, “Ismene’s Return from a Sentimental Journey, Translation Strategies in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Dianeira and Antigone,” in International Dramaturgy: Translation and Transformations in the Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker, eds. Maya Roth and Sara Freeman (Brussels; Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2008), 41–59; Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 209–211; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 241; Yi-chin Shih, History and Gender in Wertenbaker’s Plays (Ph.D. National Chengchi University, 2010).

4Pedrick, “Ismene’s Return,” 49.

5Pedrick, “Ismene’s Return,” 49.

6Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 217–19; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 64; Friedman, “Introduction,” 5.

7Especially Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 209–221; Pedrick, ‘‘Ismene’s Return,’’ 41–59; Freeman, ‘‘Timberlake Wertenbaker,’’ 192–219; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker. See also endnote 3 for more comprehensive bibliography.

8 For details about the performance see BBC, Genome Beta, Radio Times 1923–2009, ‘‘Sunday Play: Dianeira,’’, accessed October 22, 2019. The list with the contributors of the play includes Unknown: Timberlake Wertenbaker, Directors: Catherine Bailey, Irene: Olympia Dukakis, Dianeira: Harriet Walter, First Chorus: Jenny Quayle, Nurse: Sandra Voe, Hyllos: Joseph Fiennes, Heracles: Alan Howard, Second Chorus: Emily Bruni, Third Chorus: Joy Richardson, Messenger: Jonathan Tafler, Lychas: David Bradley, Nessos: Simon Callow. See also Aston, Feminist Views, 150; Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 210; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 65; Shih, History, 224; Freeman, ‘‘Timberlake Wertenbaker,’’ 219.

9‘‘Dianeira (1999)’’,, accessed October 22, 2019.

10‘‘Dianeira (2001),’’, accessed October 22, 2019.

11The interview is available online under the title ‘‘Men Judge the plays, put on the plays and run the theatres,’’, accessed October 22, 2019.

12 Interview with Michael Billington cited in Jane Milling (ed.), Modern British Playwriting. The 1980s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations, 238.

13Shih, History, 224.

14Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 210, 218–219.

15For these definitions I mostly follow Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Noëlle McAfee, ‘‘Feminist Philosophy,’’ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Other sources will also be used, ‘‘History and Theory of Feminism,’’ accessed June 20, 2020, Claire R. Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ Signs 34, 1 (Autumn 2008): 175–196.

16McAfee, ‘‘Feminist Philosophy.’’

17For the criticism of the division into three waves see Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 192; McAfee, ‘‘Feminist Philosophy.’’

18‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

19‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

20Walker, R. in

21Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 175–196.

22The sex wars were a split within second-wave feminism. They reflected opposed views among second-wave feminists about pornography, prostitution and lesbian sadomasochism. See Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 179.

23Ibid, 175–176.

24Ibid, 175.

25Ibid, 183. For the terms postmodernism, deconstruction, poststructuralism see suggested definitions by the Oxford Lexico: Postmodernism is a ‘‘late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories,’’ (, accessed October 21, 2019). Deconstruction is ‘‘a method of critical analysis of philosophical and literary language which emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.’’ It stresses the ‘‘limitlessness (or impossibility) of interpretation.’’ The paternity of the term belongs to the French philosopher Jacques Derrida from the late 1960s (, accessed October 21, 2019). Poststructuralism is ‘‘an extension and critique of structuralism, especially as used in critical textual analysis.’’ It emphasizes the ‘‘plurality and deferral of meaning’’ and rejects the ‘‘authorial authority.’’ (, accessed October 21, 2019).

26Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 188.

27 Heywood Leslie and Jennifer Drake, eds., Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

28Tamara Strauss, “A Manifesto for Third Wave Feminism.” AlterNet, last modified October 24, 2000.; Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 177.

29Strauss, “A Manifesto for Third Wave Feminism.”

30Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 175.

31Leslie L. Heywood, ed., The Women’s Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third-Wave Feminism, vol. 1, A–Z, (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006), xx; Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 180.

32Heywood, Movement, 122.

33Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 184.

34Heywood, Movement, 366–67.

35Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 193.

36‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

37‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

38Other sub-movements in feminism include anarcha, black, postcolonial and third-world, multiracial, libertarian, standpoint, post-structural and postmodern, environmental feminism.

39‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

40Amy R. Baehr, ‘‘Liberal Feminism,’’ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),; ‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

41Ann Ferguson, Rosemary Hennessy, and Mechthild Nagel, ‘‘Feminist Perspectives on Class and Work,’’ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),; ‘‘History and Theory of Feminism.’’

42Liberal feminists such as MacKenzie and Stoljar analyze the ‘‘enabling conditions’’ of personal autonomy, an approach which is described as ‘‘procedural accounts.’’ Naussbaum’s ‘‘capabilities approach’’ is another example of a liberal feminist approach of the ‘‘enabling conditions.’’ See Catriona MacKenzie and Natalie Stoljar, ‘‘Autonomy Refigured,’’ in Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self, eds. Catriona MacKenzie and Natalie Stoljar. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 13–19; Martha Nussbaum, ‘‘The Future of Feminist Liberalism,’’ Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 74 (2000): 47–79.

43 See Ann Cudd, Analysing Oppression, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 85–118; Deborah Rhode, Speaking of Sex: The Denial of Gender Inequality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 1193–95.

44Susan Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 97.

45John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971); John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

46Linda Alstott, No Exit: What Parents Owe Their Children and What Society Owes Parents (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); Amy R. Baehr (ed.), Varieties of Feminist Liberalism (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004); Hilde Bojer, ‘‘Women and the Rawlsian Social Contract,’’ Social Justice Research 15 (2002): 393–407; S.A. Lloyd, ‘‘Toward a Liberal Theory of Sexual Equality,’’ Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 9 (1998): 203–224; Linda McClain, The Place of Families: Fostering Capacity, Equality and Responsibility (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?; Janna Thompson, ‘‘What Do Women Want? Rewriting the Social Contract,’’ International Journal of Moral and Social Studies 8 (1993): 257–272; Ruth Abbey, ‘‘Biography of a Bibliography: Three Decades of Feminist Response to Rawls,’’ in Feminist Interpretations of Rawls, ed. Ruth Abbey, (College Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013).

47Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?, 99–100; McClain, The Place of Families, 73–84.

48Cudd, Analysing Oppression, 223.

49Ruth Abbey, ‘‘Back Toward a Comprehensive Liberalism? Justice as Fairness, Gender and Families,’’ Political Theory 35 (2007): 5–28; Amy R. Baehr ‘‘Towards a New Feminist Liberalism: Okin, Rawls, and Habermas,’’ Hypatia 11 (1966): 49–66; Reprinted in The Philosophy of Rawls: A Collection of Essays, vol. 3, eds. Henry S. Richardson and Paul J. Weithman (New York: Garland Publishing, 1999), 295–312; Clare Chambers, Sex, Culture, and Justice: The Limits of Choice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), 12, 159–201; Susan Okin, ‘‘Political Liberalism, Justice and Gender,’’ Ethics 105 (1994): 23–43.

50Kimberly Yuracko, Perfectionism and Contemporary Feminist Values (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2003); Lisa Schwartzman, Challenging Liberalism: Feminism as Political Critique (College Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010); Iris Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 37; Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987); Catharine MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989); Virginia Held, ‘‘Non-contractual Society: A Feminist View,’’ in Science, Morality and Feminist Theory. Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary (1987) 13: 111–37, eds. Marsha Hanen and Kai Nielsen; Eva Kittay, Love's Labor: Essays on Women, Equality and Dependency (New York: Routledge, 1999).

51Jerry Z. Muller, ‘‘What Is Conservative Social and Political Thought?’’ in Conservatism: An Anthology of Social and Political Thought from David Hume to the Present, ed. Jerry Z. Muller (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 3–31; Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Feminism is Not the Story of My Life: How Today's Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch With the Real Concerns of Women (London: Doubleday, 1996).

52Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?

53Serena Parekh and Shelley Wilcox, ‘‘Feminist Perspectives on Globalization,’’ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

54Wertenbaker’s interview on BBC Radio 4, 20 June 1991 cited in Goodman, Contemporary Feminist Theatres, 33–34.

55For the types of feminism(s) displayed in Wertenbaker’s work, especially in her plays New Anatomies (1981), The Grace of Mary Traverse (1985), The Love of the Nightingale (1988), and The Break of Day (1995) see Gömceli, “The Love of the Nightingale,” 77–100 and Timberlake Wertenbaker, 243–46. For feminism(s) and Wertenbaker see also endnote 3.

56For backlash theory see Jozefina Komporaly, “Maternal Longing as Addiction: Feminism Revisited in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Break of Day,” Journal of Gender Studies 13 (2004): 130-31; Susan Faludi, “Backlash: the Undeclared War against American Women,” in Feminism in Our Time: the Essential Writings, World War II to the Present, ed. Miriam Schneir (New York: Vintage, 1994), 456; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 246.

57For Wertenbaker’s postcolonial insights see Pedrick, ‘‘Ismene’s Return,’’ 41; Roth, ‘‘The Philomela Myth as Postcolonial Feminist Theater, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Love of the Nightingale,’’ 42–57.

58 For the fall of grand narratives such as Marxism and outmoded forms of Western feminism in Wertenbaker’s plays see Wertenbaker, Plays 2, viii; Aston, Feminist Views, 8, 152, 154.

59For the fluidity of identity in Wertenbaker see Dianeira p. 328; Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 213.

60For the contradiction and ambiguity of identity in Wertenbaker see Dianeira p. 345; Carlson, ‘‘Language and identity,’’ 140; Gömceli, ‘‘The Love of the Nightingale,’’ 96; Wertenbaker’s New Anatomies.

61For transnational feminism and women playwrights in the 1990s see Aston, Feminist Views, 8, 17, 152, 158.

62For the theme of transnational feminism in Wertenbaker’s plays, Abel’s Sister (1984) and The Break of Day (1995) see Aston, Feminist Views, 152 and 154 respectively. For the ideologies operating in Wertenbaker’s plays see also Wertenbaker, Plays 2, viii and Aston, Feminist Views, 8, 152, 154.

63Shih, History, 226. The same idea can be found in Wertenbaker’s Credible Witness.

64 For the reference to the Balkan Wars see further the discussion on pages 35, 46 of this article; see also Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 217.

65For female rational thought and liberal feminism see Jaggar, Feminist Politics, 33; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 21–22.

66For the value ascribed to imagination and reflection in Dianeira as a means of resistance against patriarchal restrictions see ‘‘all movement in the imagination. Imagination too is a breeding ground for anger’’ (D. p. 334).

67For the connection between family and nation in Dianeira see Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 217.

68For patriarchal laws being against the rules see Dianeira p. 370. The same idea about the ‘‘rules’’ that patriarchy arbitrarily transgresses is expressed in Wertenbaker’s The Love of the Nightingale (LN: Sc.20, 47).

69For the identification of the personal with the political and the claim to autonomous female subjectivity see Wandor, Carry On, Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics, 130–32; Carole Pateman, “Feminist Critiques of the Public-Private Dichotomy,” in Feminism and Equality, ed. Anne Phillips (New York: New York University Press, 1987), 117; Helene Keyssar, “Introduction,” in Feminist Theatre and Theory, ed. Helene Keyssar (London: Macmillan, 1996), 1; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 18, 26, 29, 47, 59. On the claim for a “resistant, mobile subjectivity” in another Wertenbaker play, The Grace of Mary Traverse, see Mary Karen Dahl, “Constructing the Subject: Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Grace of Mary Traverse,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 2 (1993), 156.

70For the conception of patriarchy as the source of personal and political crisis in radical feminist theatre see Sue Ellen Case, Feminism and Theatre (New York: Methuen, 1988), 69; Maggie Humm, A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Feminist Literary Criticism (Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994), 54; Joe Winston, “Re-casting the Phaedra Syndrome: Myth and Morality in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Love of the Nightingale,” Modern Drama 38 (1995), 518–19; Gömceli, “The Love of the Nightingale,” 97 and Timberlake Wertenbaker, 45. The issue of feminist myth criticism is also explored in Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (Boston: Beacon, 1978). See also Case, Feminism and Theatre, 63; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 24, 55.

71For the preoccupation with violence and radical feminism see Oliver Banks, Faces of Feminism: a Study of Feminism as a Social Movement (New York: Blackwell, 1981), 232; Alison Jaggar, Feminist Politics and Human Nature (New Jersey: Rowman and Allanheld, 1983), 147, 260–61; Michelene Wandor, Carry On, Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics (New York: Routledge, 1986), 133; Case, Feminism and Theatre, 66; Valerie Bryson, Feminist Political Theory (London: Macmillan, 1992), 181; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 25.

72For motherhood in radical and liberal feminism see Jaggar, Feminist Politics, 260; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 50, 25.

73For historicization and socialist-Marxist feminist theatre see Michelene Wandor, Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics (London: Methuen, 1981), 40; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 42.

74For the payment of female labour and the socialist-Marxist feminist theatre see Josephine Donovan, Feminist Theory (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1985), 81; Jill Dolan, The Feminist Spectator as Critic (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991), 10; Bryson, Feminist Political Theory, 3, 234; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 27, 59; Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 221, 210.

75For Wertenbaker’s feminist awareness and self-reflexivity see also Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 80.

76DiGaetani, Search, 270; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 76.

77Interview cited in Jane Milling (ed.), Modern British Playwriting. The 1980s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations, 238.

78Edward Said was professor of comparative literature at Columbia, public intellectual and founder of postcolonial studies. For Wertenbaker and Saidian humanism see Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 217, 288 note 73; Emily Apter, The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 65–81; Séverine Rabillard, “Translating the Past: Theatrical and Historical Repetition in Wertenbaker’s The Break of Day,” in International Dramaturgy: Translation and Transformations in the Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker, eds. Maya Roth and Sara Freeman (Brussels; Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2008), 135–53.

79Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 218–19 for the critical dispute that this combination triggered.

80Emily Apter, ‘‘Saidian humanism,’’ Boundary 2 31.2 (2004): 35–53.

81Frantz Fanon was French West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher who has been extremely influential in postcolonial studies. For Saidian humanism being ‘‘emancipatory’’ see Apter, ‘‘Saidian humanism,’’ 35–36.

82Apter, ‘‘Saidian humanism,’’ 41.

83Apter, ‘‘Saidian humanism,’’ 47.

84For the technique of a ‘‘story within a story’’ in Wertenbaker see Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 209–212; Shih, History, 225–234.

85For Wertenbaker’s upbringing in the Basque area see her interview The Guardian, ‘‘Timberlake Wertenbaker: ‘I got to feel that nobody wanted me,’’’ April 29, 2017. Link to the interview,

86As an example of this type of criticism see DiGaetani, Search.

87As an example of this stance among critics see Elizabeth Wright, Postmodern Brecht: A Re-Presentation (London: Routledge, 1989).

88Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 217–19. See also Geraldine Cousin, Women in Dramatic Place and Time: Contemporary Female Characters on Stage (London: Routledge, 1996), 115–20; Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 209–21.

89 For the emphasis placed by the feminist discourse of the nineties on race, class, ethnicity issues see Snyder, ‘‘What Is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay,’’ 175–196.

90For anger as a motive for social and political change see Brenda R. Silver, “The Authority of Anger: ‘Three Guineas’ as Case Study,” Signs 2 (1991): 361; Shih, History, 245.

91The names of the protagonists, Heracles, Dianeira, Hyllos, Iole, Nessos, are written as in Wertenbaker’s Dianeira. The passages from Dianeira are taken from the edition of 2002, Timberlake Wertenbaker: Plays 2. For the passages that are compared with Trachiniae, I cite the relevant verses from the edition of P. E. Easterling (Cambridge, 1982). For the passages taken from Wertenbaker’s Dianeira I cite by page number, because there is no division into scenes, the play does not follow the structure of Trachiniae faithfully, it is translated as prose and not poetry and the only indicators are the names of the protagonists and the places of the action.

92For patriarchy in Trachiniae see Victoria Wohl, Intimate Commerce. Exchange, Gender and Subjectivity in Greek Tragedy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998), xviii-xxiv, 17–56, 185, 186 note 19. See also Deborah J. Lyons, “Dangerous gifts: ideologies of marriage and exchange in ancient Greece,” Classical Antiquity 1 (2003): 93–134.

93The masculine model is reflected in the Rawlsian and Kantian model of self-sufficiency according to feminist political theorists, who strongly oppose it. See Amy R. Baehr, ‘‘Liberal Feminism,’’ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

94See also Shih, History, 248.

95See also Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 216.

96For the coincidence of the oracles, Heracles’ awareness of the coincidence and its implications in Trachiniae see Thomas Bertram Lonsdale Webster, “Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” in Greek Poetry and Life: Essays Presented to Gilbert Murray on His Seventieth Birthday, ed. Gilbert Murray (Oxford: Clarendon, 1936), 178; Gordon MacDonald Kirkwood, A Study of Sophoclean Drama (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1958), 117; Arthur John Alfred Waldock, Sophocles, The Dramatist (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1966), 88; Patricia E. Easterling, “Sophocles, Trachiniae,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 15 (1968): 67; George Henry Gellie, Sophocles: A Reading (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1972); Stuart E. Lawrence, “The dramatic epistemology of the Trachiniae,” Phoenix 32 (1978): 288–304; Patricia E. Easterling, “The end of the Trachiniae,” Illinois Classical Studies 1 (1981): 60; Johansen H. Friis, “Heracles in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Classica and Mediaevalia 37 (1986): 59; Phillip Holt, “Light in Sophokles’ ‘Trachiniae,”’ Classical Antiquity 2 (1987): 205–17; Esposito, ‘‘The third stasimon of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 21–38; Charles Segal, “The oracles of Sophocles’ Trachiniae: convergence or confusion?” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 100 (2000): 159; Loukas Papadimitropoulos, “Heracles as tragic hero,” Classical World 2 (2007–2008): 138; Simon Goldhill, “Undoing in Sophoclean drama: λύσις and the analysis of irony,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 1 (2009): 24. Bruce Heiden, Tragic Rhetoric: An Interpretation of Sophocles’ Trachiniae (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), 146, 148, negates the coincidence of the oracles as a fact; Heiden regards it as a rhetorical construction and illusion. See also Heiden’s “Trachiniae” in Brill’s Companion to Sophocles, ed. Andreas Markantonatos (Leiden; Boston: Brill: 2012), 140.

97My argument about Heracles’ transformation in Trachiniae further develops previous scholarly views on aspects of the theme of transformation in Trachiniae. For the transformation of hands see Judith Fletcher, “Πάντ' ἀριστεύων χεροῖν: deeds of the hands in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Mouseion (Canada) 1 (2001): 1–15; for the transformation of knowledge from hearing to seeing see Stephen Esposito, “The third stasimon of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Classical World 1 (1997–1998): 21–38; for the destruction and the reestablishment of marriage and sacrifice see Charles Segal, “Sophocles’ Trachiniae: Myth, poetry, and heroic values,” Yale Classical Studies 25 (1977): 99–58; Charles Segal, Tragedy and Civilization: An Interpretation of Sophocles (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), 60-108; Robert L. Kane, “The structure of Sophocles’ Trachiniae. Diptych or trilogy?” Phoenix 42 (1988): 198-211; for a synopsis of the critical views regarding the process of transformation in Trachiniae see Barbara Goward, “Introduction,” in R. C. Jebb, Sophocles: plays. Trachiniae, ed. Patricia E. Easterling (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2004), 31-48; for transformation as an improvement regarding the use of silence in the exodos see Naomi J. Rood, “Four silences in Sophocles’ ‘Trachiniae,’” Arethusa 3 (2010): 345-64.

98Shih, History, 249 argues that Heracles in Wertenbaker does not understand the content of the oracles in the first place.

99For Dianeira’s motionlessness as a form of patriarchal restriction in Wertenbaker’s version see ‘‘Dianeira does not have the relief of movement and search. She has to stay still and wait all movement in the imagination. Imagination too is a breeding ground for anger’’ (D. p. 334); ‘‘within the walls of your house . . . you are the last to know what concerns you most’’ (D. p. 340). See also Shih, History, who contrasts Dianeira’s static status with Procne’s and Philomele’s transformation and transgression of the secular world in The Love of the Nightingale. See also Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 148. Isabelle Eberhardt in Wertenbaker’s play New Anatomies and Mary in Wertenbaker’s play The Grace of Mary Traverse are examples of women who try to transgress confinement in the domestic environment and follow journeys of self-discovery and redefinition of their identity.

100Dianeira in Trachiniae does not embody transformation as Heracles does, ‘‘θυτῆρα καινῷ καινὸν ἐν πεπλώματι,’’ Tr. v. 613. This difference reveals the patriarchal favouring of Heracles in the play. Dianeira is confined in the domestic environment, but mostly is entrapped in her identity, which is socially imposed by patriarchy and aristocracy. Her suicide becomes the outmost expression of this impasse and an escape from spatial and ideological limitation.

101For Heracles’ orders in Trachiniae see Patricia E. Easterling, “Sophocles, Trachiniae,” 68; Brad Levett, Sophocles: Women of Trachis (London: Duckworth, 2004), 102; Humphrey Davy Findley Kitto, Sophocles, Dramatist and Philosopher: Three Lectures Delivered at King’s College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (London; New York; Toronto; Oxford University Press, 1958), 48. For Heracles following and giving the orders as divinely ordained and obscure at the same time see Levett, Sophocles: Women of Trachis, 101; Papadimitropoulos, “Heracles as tragic hero,” 137–36; Christina Elliott Sorum, “Monsters and the family. The exodus of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Greek, Roman and Byzantine studies 19 (1978): 67; For Heracles’ last orders as personal orders see Webster, “Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 178; Shapiro, “‘Hêrôs Theos’: The Death and Apotheosis of Herakles,” 17; Ben de Wet, “An evaluation of the Trachiniae of Sophokles in the light of moral values in Athens of the 5th century B.C.,” Dioniso (N. S.) 54 (1983): 226; Heiden, Tragic Rhetoric, 150; Heiden, “Trachiniae,” 140; Levett, Sophocles: Women of Trachis, 101. Holt, “Light in Sophokles’ ‘Trachiniae,”’ Classical Antiquity 2 (1987): 205–17 regards the orders as Heracles’ personal wish and contribution to a divine plan at the same time. For the last orders as divinely given see Kirkwood, A Study of Sophoclean Drama, 278; Sorum, “Monsters and the family: The exodus of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 67; Desmond John Conacher, “Sophocles’ Trachiniae: some observations,” American Journal of Philology 1 (1997): 21–34; Segal, “The oracles of Sophocles’ Trachiniae: convergence or confusion?” 171; Goward, “Introduction,” 31–48. Easterling, “The end of the Trachiniae,” 64 characterises the orders as ambivalent. For the ambiguity of the end of Trachiniae see also Christina Kraus, “‘Λόγος μεν ἔστ' ἀρχαῖος’: stories and storytelling in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 121 (1991): 97–98.

102For the ideological significance of “asking questions” in Wertenbaker’s work see Maya Roth, “Wertenbaker & Translations in Theatre,” in International Dramaturgy: Translation and Transformations in the theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker, eds. Maya Roth and Sara Freeman (Brussels; Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2008), 17; Gömceli, “The Love of the Nightingale,” 97; Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 216, 218. For this theme in The Love of The Nightingale see Geraldine Cousin, Women in Dramatic Place and Time: Contemporary Female Characters on Stage (London: Routledge, 1996), 114–21; Christine Dymkowski, “The Play’s the Thing: The Metatheater of Timberlake Wertenbaker,” in Drama on Drama: Dimensions of Theatricality on the Contemporary British Stage, ed. Nicole Boireau (London: Macmillan, 1997), 121–35; Carlson, “Language and identity,” 136; Roth, “The Philomela Myth,” 50. The same idea about the “rules” that patriarchy arbitrarily transgresses is expressed in The Love of the Nightingale (LN: Sc. 20, 47).

103For the connection between family and nation see also Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 217, which follows Benedict Anderson. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), 131, argues that the individual’s commitment to the nation is a reproduction of the affective bonds of family. In this respect, the self-sacrifice for the nation resembles the obedience to the will of the Father, exposing the mechanisms for the extension of violence from family to nation. For the perpetuation of violence as a consequence of the perpetuation of patriarchy see also Shih, History, 246.

104The rejection of biological determinism and of its argument that “women are biologically weaker than men” is one of the common features of the major feminist positions. See Wandor, Carry On, Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics, 132; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 29. The idea that gender is constructed and not natural is supported by Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), 192.

105The interrelation between the personal and the political was another common feature of the major feminist positions. See Wandor, Carry On, Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics, 130; Pateman, “Feminist Critiques,” 117; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 29. For this idea in Wertenbaker’s work see Aston, Feminist Views, 157; Roth, “The Philomela Myth,” 49, 54; Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 196, 238.

106For anger as a motive for social and political change see Silver, “The Authority of Anger: ‘Three Guineas’ as Case Study,” 361; Shih, History, 245.

107For “filial obedience” in Trachiniae see also Heiden, “Trachiniae,” 135, who associates it with the notion of physis.

108The human responsibility to transubstantiate the metaphysical law to moral and political law becomes evident by the language of necessity used in the exodos. For the importance of the exodos to interpretation of the play see also Sorum, “Monsters and the family. The exodus of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 59–73; Easterling, Trachiniae, 11; Sophocles, Trachiniae, ed. Malcolm Davies (Oxford, 1991), xx; Goward, “Introduction,” 33.

109 For the purposeful open-endedness regarding the apotheosis in Trachiniae see also Heiden, “Trachiniae,” 132, 143, who associates the ambiguity of the apotheosis in Trachiniae with the fact that it is given to Heracles as grace and not as justice; Kirkwood, A Study of Sophoclean Drama, 67, regards the open-endedness of the apotheosis as compatible with the diptych form of the play. See also Thomas Hoey, “Ambiguity in the exodos of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Arethusa 10 (1977): 269–94; Friis, “Heracles in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 47-61; Davies, Trachiniae, xx; Kraus, “‘Λόγος μεν ἔστ' ἀρχαῖος’: stories and storytelling in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 97; Levett, Sophocles: Women of Trachis, 108–10; Vayos J. Liapis, “Intertextuality as irony: Heracles in epic and in Sophocles,” Greece and Rome 1 (2006): 48–59; Rood, “Four silences in Sophocles’ ‘Trachiniae,’” 350. Easterling, “The end of the Trachiniae,” 66–68, argues against Hoey’s argument in favour of open-endedness, but she admits that the way of Heracles’ death has some significance, although this significance remains unspecified. For the implications of the apotheosis see Galinsky, The Herakles Theme: The Adaptations of the Hero in Literature from Homer to the Twentieth Century, 51–52; Levett, Sophocles: Women of Trachis, 110.

110See also Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 216.

111For this idea in other plays of Wertenbaker see Wilson, “Forgiving History,” 154; Carlson, “Language and identity,” 143.

112The idea that change, either personal or political, can materialise only through political means is fundamental to feminist thought. See Pateman, “Feminist Critiques,” 117; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 29.

113Wilson, ‘‘Dianeira, Anger, and History,’’ 221.

114See Carlson, “Language and identity,” 134.

115See also Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 214.

116For the effect of patriarchy on the maternal bond see Wilson, “Forgiving History,” 153, 156; Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 214. For the impact of patriarchy on children see Gömceli, “The Love of the Nightingale,” 93.

117For epic journeys of self-discovery in Wertenbaker’s work see also Aston, Feminist View, 150.

118See also Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 214.

119For Iole’s silence at the end of the play see Rood, “Four silences in Sophocles’ ‘Trachiniae,’” 360.

120See also Shih, History, 243.

121See also Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 217; Shih, History, 244; Richard Rowland, Killing Hercules, Deianira and the Politics of Domestic Violence From Sophocles to the War on Terror (London and New York: Routledge, 2017), 219.

122The need for communication and understanding between the sexes is also stressed in The Love of the Nightingale. See Dymkowski, “The Play’s the Thing,” 132; Gömceli, “The Love of the Nightingale,” 87.

123bell hooks, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center (Cambridge: South End, 1984), 33; Silver, “The Authority of Anger: ‘Three Guineas’ as Case Study,” 361–62; Shih, History, 245. hooks notes that a radical and fierce form of female anger renders feminism “more a declaration of war between the sexes than a political struggle to end sexist oppression.” On the other hand, Silver notes the importance of anger in social and political reform.

124Wertenbaker, Plays 2, vii.

125For the implicit allusion to the Heracleidae in the exodos of Trachiniae see Hoey, “Ambiguity in the exodos of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 269–94; Segal, “Sophocles’ Trachiniae. Myth, poetry, and heroic values,” 152; Kraus, “‘Λόγος μεν ἔστ' ἀρχαῖος’: stories and storytelling in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 98, note 70.

126See Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 217; Shih, History, 251.

127See also Shih, History, 252, “In The Love of the Nightingale, Itys’ transformation at the end suggests a positive future; in Dianeira, Timberlake and her friends’ silence in the car at the end indicates their critical judgment on wars is sprouting.”

128See Aston, Feminist Views, 16, 150.

129Wilson, “Dianeira, Anger, and History,” 211, also recognises the open-endedness of the play as an indication of the perpetuation of anger and patriarchy, but without mentioning the female responsibility apart from the male one for this end, and without recognising Wertenbaker’s criticism of feminism itself at the very end of Dianeira (D. pp. 372-74).

130For the same idea appearing in Wertenbaker’s work Credible Witness see Shih, History, 226.

131Aston, Feminist Views, 154 applies the term “transborder participatory democracy” to Wertenbaker’s The Break of Day. The definition of the term is given by Jacqui M. Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty (eds.), Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures (New York and London: Routledge, 1997), xli.

132Carlson, “Language and identity,” 134.

133In Trachiniae the co-agency of human and divine forces makes human responsibility clearly distinguishable. For multiple agency in Trachiniae see Bruce Heiden, “Lichas’ rhetoric of justice in Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” Hermes 116 (1988): 13–23; Fletcher, “Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 8.

134For the historical and theoretical tension between the feminist movement and liberal humanism during the eighteenth and nineteenth century as well as the privileging of the male that results from Enlightenment dualisms see Susan J. Hekman, Gender and Knowledge, Elements of a Postmodern Feminism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990), 2, 5.

135For irrational prejudice as the root of women’s oppression and discrimination based on gender see Jaggar, Feminist Politics, 177; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 22. For the need to develop the skill of rational thought and argument so as to reverse this irrational prejudice see Jaggar, Feminist Politics, 147; Michèle Barrett and Anne Phillips, “Introduction,” in Destabilizing Theory, eds. Michèle Barrett and Anne Phillips (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 1992), 3; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 22. For Wertenbaker’s attraction to humanism see DiGaetani, Search, 270; Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 76; Freeman, “Timberlake Wertenbaker,” 217–19. Critics have pointed out Wertenbaker’s liberal humanism as an element of the rest of her oeuvre. Freeman acknowledges a “liberal humanistic viewpoint” in Wertenbaker’s work, and Gömceli, Timberlake Wertenbaker, 64, points out Wertenbaker’s “global and humanistic perspective.” Friedman, “Introduction,” 5, observes that liberal feminism as theory and as theatre practice in the 1980s “envisioned a humanism that includes women.”

136See also Shih, History, 248, “She demythologizes men’s anger through revealing the aggressive anger of ‘the greatest man on earth.’”

137For the association of light and knowledge in Trachiniae see Hoey, “Ambiguity in the exodos of Sophocles’ Trachiniae,” 269–94; Holt, “Light in Sophokles’ ‘Trachiniae,”’ 205–17. For the epistemology of Trachiniae see Lawrence, “The dramatic epistemology of the Trachiniae,” 288–304. For the theme of knowledge in Trachiniae see Easterling, “The end of the Trachiniae,” 58; Segal, “The oracles of Sophocles’ Trachiniae: convergence or confusion?” 159.