Gender/Genre Disruption in Bryony Lavery’s Her Aching Heart
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The objective of the present paper is to examine the two contrastive yet interconnected processes activated in parody: conservative and revolutionary. The conservative drive is associated with the continuation and reinforcement of the parodied original while the revolutionary drive refers to the transgressive and critical potential of the parodic text, often realised in mockery, satire or deconstruction. Her Aching Heart by Bryony Lavery, a parody of a Gothic romance, displays both of these tendencies, which in their interplay and opposition lead to the point of the cultural disruption in an attempt at lesbian representation. The parody of the Gothic historical romance in Her Aching Heart is performed through exaggeration, replacement and experiment in gender roles distribution. With the Gothic romance’s heavy dependence on clear gender oppositions, Lavery’s exploration of the same-sex casting, multiple role-playing, and cross-dressing necessarily and subversively redefines the genre’s formula, leading to the point of its disintegration. In this respect, the play can be classified as selfparodic and self-referential. Its interest lies in questioning the possibility of representation of alternative forms of love within as well as without the convention of romance, and thus indirectly searching for the possibility of formulating alternative lesbian dramaturgy.
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