Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


Too often, the drama treats mothering as the expected outcome of marriage or as a biological necessity for women. Yet, dramatic texts which address the issue of mothering do exist. This paper examines the unique mothering choices made by the central characters in three dramatic texts: Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal. Ruth Wolff’s The Abdication, and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles.

Chapter One introduces the selected theories of Ann Dally, Nancy Chodorow, and Barbara Katz Rothman, theorists whose diverse perceptions concerning mothering converge to provide an analysis of the complexity of mothering choices. Chapters Two through Four include analyses of the three selected plays. Each of these three chapters contains a synopsis, a brief production history of the text, and a section in which the selected theories of Dally, Chodorow, and Rothman are applied to the text. Chapter Five provides my conclusions concerning the mothering choices found within the three selected plays.

Within the texts of Machinal, The Abdication, and The Heidi Chronicles, I have highlighted the influences on mothering, and the restrictions these influences place on mothering. Through the application of the combined theories of Dally, Chodorow, and Rothman to these dramatic texts, the characters’ highly individual circumstances and choices are observed, as well as the necessity for liberty in women’s mothering choices.