Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Joseph Adamson




This thesis explores the symbiotic relationship between Jacques Lacan's psycho-analytical concepts and the dramatic genre. Rather than apply Lacan's theories to a wide variety of plays, two dramatic texts -Miss Julie by August Strindberg and The Balcony by Jean Genet - have been chosen for this exercise. The first chapter concentrates on the struggle between master and slave in Miss Julie. Lacan's version of the dialectic, which he borrows from Hegel, generates our discussion of the Name-of-the-Father and feminine sexuality. The chapter outlines the intentional decline of the protagonist as she surpasses the fragmenting Symbolic order and attempts to find contentment in the realm of the Real. The second chapter focuses on Lacan's three orders - the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real and their manifestation in The Balcony. This discussion concentrates on power: who has it, why they have it, and how they maintain it. Finally, placing the dramatic texts where they belong - on the stage - the third section of this thesis emphasizes Lacan's concept of the Gaze, and outlines its significance in understanding the theatrical experience. By closely analyzing Lacan's theories through two dramatic texts, this thesis hopes to illustrate the practicality of Lacan's concepts for literary criticism, as well as provide readers with a new tool in approaching the dramatic genre.

McMaster University Library

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