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In Eugene ONeills 1913 play Thirst three characters who were previously strangers are stranded together on a lifeboat after a shipwreck Two of the characters the Dancer and the Gentleman both embody the images of gender that their names are associated with the Dancer appears and acts in ways deemed to be feminine and the Gentleman portrays himself as a stereotypical male The differences between gender roles are transparent when the Mise en Scne is reduced to a small raft atop an endless ocean and each characters performance provides insight into how society uses gender to perceive identity Through Judith Butlers analysis of gender roles as routinely performed societal constructs in her essay Performative Acts and Gender Constitution An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory I am able to see how the characters of the Dancer and the Gentleman in Thirst repeatedly act out their prescribed gender scripts and how their rehearsed genders determine their fatesAs a theatrical character the Dancer speaks and acts in ways that are perceived as the female gender by society In her essay Butler says Gender reality is performative which meansthat it is real only to the extent that it is performed Butler 7 The Dancer certainly performs societys expectations of a woman to the fullest extent throughout the play For example when the Gentleman convinces the Dancer that the Sailor is hiding water she tries to give the Sailor her diamond necklace in exchange for the water by saying It is beautiful is it not I hate to part with itLook at this necklace It was given to me by an English dukea nobleman It is worth a thousand poundsI have given you the necklace Give me the water ONeill 5 Only a female character would decide to place any value on a diamond trinket while stranded in a presumably hopeless situation and she is delusional to think that the necklace would be of any use to the Sailor
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