Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


Contemporary playwrights, Ruth Wolff and Pam Gems, create portrayals of Queen Christina of Sweden in Wolff’s The Abdication and Gem’s Queen Christina, both of which can be perceived to contain the issues of culturally- encoded gender and sexual roles.

To compare and contrast the influence of these culturally-encoded gender and sexual roles within these plays, I have applied Adrienne Rich’s theory of “compulsory heterosexuality," which serves as a critical tool to clarify the similarities and differences of these issues within the selected dramatic texts. According to Rich, “compulsory heterosexuality” refers to the ideas that male-female coupling is the preferred choice of relationships, that this coupling is glorified by the culture, and that these heterosexual expectations are encouraged from birth.

Chapter One includes my thesis statement, an explanation of Rich’s theory of compulsory heterosexuality, a brief history of Christina of Sweden, and a synopsis of each play. The socialization, or the process of adapting one’s life to social needs, of each Christina character is analyzed in Chapter Two. The characters who act as enforcers of “compulsory heterosexuality” upon Christina are examined in Chapter Three. Chapter Four goes on to examine how the two characters of Christina challenge “compulsory heterosexuality” and fight against it. Chapter Five functions as a conclusion which summarizes the similarities and differences of “compulsory heterosexuality” at work in both plays.

Through the use of Rich’s theory, I have uncovered the struggles that the characters of Christina undergo with “compulsory heterosexuality” in both different and similar fashions in these texts. The Christina characters in each play are pressured and struggle in similar manners with the issues of “compulsory heterosexuality” in each play, yet each of their dramatic lives evidences a quite different result.