Disabled Identities Revealed Through the Empiricism of a Quartet of Female Dramatis Personae: a Psycho-Social Autoethnographic Portrait

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Southern New Hampshire University
Dramatists have always built upon pure psychological foundations for character development. The intrinsic qualities associated with humanity impel subjective thoughts, insights, and interpretations on consciousness and introspection. There have been a plethora of protagonists and antagonists to illustrate this argument. In particular, the following four female personas exemplify motifs of affliction, dereliction and social ostracism: Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller from The Miracle Worker, Sarah Norman from Children of a Lesser God, and Laura Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie. These characters are detailed and contrasted through an autoethnographic perspective culminating in the universal theme of psychosocial survival. The cognitive processes, sensibilities, and visceral tendencies of these disabled female characters rouse exploration. Orphaned, blind, and institutionalized, Annie Sullivan overcame egregious cruelties through fervency for an education. With indefatigable exertion, her first job was teaching a deaf, blind, and mute Helen Keller, an exile from humanity, appropriate behavior and basic communication skills with the ultimate goal of language and its significance. The pedagogy process becomes a quagmire of violent tantrums and thwarted efforts. Analogously, Sarah Norman is also a defector from humanity. A version of a misanthrope, Sarah rejects the hearing world with its condescending nonconformity to the language, culture, and values of her world, the deaf world. Laura Wingfield also disengages humankind with a penchant for escapism tethered to an incandescent menagerie of unicorns. What is most intriguing about all four personas is the dramatist’s distillation of the human experience, in particular, their social and psychological adaptation and resignation as an affirmation of their inured reality.