Parody as Translation: Ibsen’s new woman in the pages of Punch
Keywords:New woman, parody, Ibsen, humour, modern drama, British audiences
Abstract“Parody as Translation: Ibsen’s new woman in the pages of Punch” examines four comic parodies of Ibsen written by Thomas Antsey Guthrie, a British journalist and humourist also known as F. Antsey. The plays examined include parodies of Rosmersholm, A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, and The Master Builder — comically abbreviated renditions of Ibsen originals that featured striking new women characters. Reading these parodies as responses to their originals, I examine what happens to the new woman character when she is subjected to comic parodic treatment. Although the parodies do not directly focus on the alteration of these key female characters, I argue that Antsey’s parodic critique of Ibsenian dramaturgical mechanics, conventions, and tropes indirectly impacted their representation, transforming them from tragic heroines to comic figures and raising further questions about the relationship between gender and comedy. In each parody, the psychological complexity of the new woman character is compromised through Antsey’s alteration of one or more of her key purposes within Ibsen’s text. Overall, I argue that the reassessment and reinterpretation of these key Norwegian texts can be viewed as a mode of transition between Ibsen and those impacted and influenced by him, providing a cultural medium or “buffer” that helped connect the notably “serious” Scandinavian playwright with British audiences.
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