Four Women in the Woods: An Ecofeminist Look at the Forest as Home


Classical dramas, such as Shakespearean and Sanskrit texts, have received feminist criticism in theory and feminist revision in performance, and while the former has also received some attention from ecocritics, the latter scarcely at all. Neither have they been compared to consider cultural differences in the light of ecofeminist criticism that analyzes the ways in which women supposedly have affinities with the natural world that men do not share, as well as the similarities in which patriarchal hierarchies of value oppress and constrain both women and nature. Titania and Rosalind, iconic female figures in English drama, and Sita and Sakuntala equally famous in South and Southeast theatres all spend a good deal of time in the woods. They have interactions with nonhuman creatures and express their feelings about being in the forest. By juxtaposing their experiences and using an ecofeminist approach to counter dominant male interpretations of their relations to the forest, animals, their bodies, and their husbands, this essay suggests that the women’s attitudes to the natural environment are neither obvious nor uniform, but can be understood in ways to help curb the excesses of current environmental destruction.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.