Date of Award

5-8-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Matthew Roudané

Second Advisor

Tanya Caldwell

Third Advisor

Jay Rajiva

Abstract

In an early 1998 interview, playwright, Paula Vogel, sat in conversation with Arthur Holmberg to discuss the ambivalent victim-perpetrator power dynamics in her critically-acclaimed play, How I Learned to Drive, explaining that “there are two forgivenesses in the play. . . one forgiveness for Peck, but the most crucial forgiveness would be Li’l Bit’s forgiving Li’l Bit. Li’l Bit as an adult looking at and understanding her complicity.” Since the Holmberg interview, critics have made only passing references to Vogel’s discussion of complicity in play reviews and critical essays. This thesis represents the first sustained engagement with complicity as an ethical subject to argue that Li’l Bit’s dependence upon her uncle for emotional and sometimes physical survival exempts her from moral scrutiny in the course of his abuse.

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