“Mighty maiden with a mission”: Navigating the Proto-Feminism of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida

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Title: “Mighty maiden with a mission”: Navigating the Proto-Feminism of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida
Authors: McKay, Meaghan
Date: 2019-02-07
Abstract: Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas continue to enjoy popularity worldwide, in both amateur and professional settings. Their 1884 collaboration Princess Ida¸ however, remains a contested work regarding its representation of women and feminism. In this thesis, I argue that Gilbert and Sullivan were attempting to satirize men’s reactions to feminism, rather than feminism itself. This thesis situates Princess Ida within its Victorian social context to determine to what extent a proto-feminist interpretation of the operetta is valid. Princess Ida is based on, and a parody of, Tennyson’s The Princess (1847). Tracing the chronology of Ida’s story from its beginnings in Tennyson’s poem through to Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta clarifies what Gilbert chose to satirize in his libretto. Victorian masculinity emerges as a central theme in Princess Ida, and the complexities of Gilbert and Sullivan’s representations of men in their operetta informs my discussion of proto-feminism. This thesis historically contextualizes Princess Ida and examines the operetta through the lens of feminist critiques of Western art music.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/38805
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-23057
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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