restricted access 8. “Feeling Something Together as Never Before”: National Solidarity
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188 e i g h t • “Feeling Something Together as Never Before” National Solidarity susan glaspell envisages collaboration as a fundamental alternative to conventional oppressive hierarchical structures that are based on coercion rather than mutual support. Glaspell’s dramatic commitment is emblematic of her staunch conviction that collaboration, that is— etymologically—“working with” other people, is the ultimate counter model to alienation and the loss of freedom. The troupe of the Provincetown Players she cofounded was born out of the urge to, in George Cram Cook’s words, “work together without the commercial thing imposed from without” (qtd. in Glaspell, The Road to the Temple 193). “Togetherness ” was seen as an alternative to Broadway’s monopoly. Later, during the Depression years, Glaspell devoted herself to the Federal Theatre Project and thus promoted cooperation as an antidote to the economic crisis. In a speech she delivered as director of the Midwest Bureau she articulated her belief in mutual support and declared: “Happy to be here because I believe in the things you believe in—helpfulness to the individual and to the cultural development of the middle west” (“Happy to Be Here”). At the end of her dramatic career, in her speech at the 1942 Boston Book Fair, Glaspell now insisted on the necessity to stand together to counteract totalitarianism: “Here are we: together. Feeling something together as never before. United, not alone in anger and resolve, but in a longing, a wistfulness, not weak, but strong as life herself” (“The Huntsmen”). Solidarity is established as the ultimate “favoring condition” to fulfill the “highest potentialities of life” (“The Huntsmen”). Glaspell seems to have adopted Emerson’s view that “All are needed by each one; / Nothing is fair or good alone” (“Each and All”). Like Ralph Waldo Emerson, the “Feeling Something Together as Never Before” 189 apostle of social regeneration, in “Each and All,” Glaspell lets her fervent belief in cooperation transpire throughout her plays where solidarity with the nation appears as both the driving force underlying rebellion and its highest objective. Inheritors (1921): Gifts to the Community Inheritors, Ozieblo asserts, is “the least overtly feminist of Glaspell’s plays” (Susan Glaspell 178). Madeline, the epitome of the Glaspellian idealist rebel, does not directly challenge patriarchy and oppressive social conventions but revolts against unfair government policies and the curtailment of free expression. In this work, female bonding does not mediate solidarity with the wider community of both women and men but the young woman directly awakes to a feeling of nationhood. Initially taking a stand against her government to defend the rights of the Hindu students , Madeline realizes at the end of act 3 that she must find solidarity not only with her fellow students but with the whole American nation, whose original principles she must defend to safeguard its spirit. The protagonist ’s second awakening is experienced in the intrasubjective mode. As Madeline tries to explain to her aunt and Holden the reason why she cannot give up her struggle, she seems to retreat into her own mind. Following the stream of her consciousness, her speech becomes akin to an interior monologue, focusing on the character’s inner thoughts and feelings : she is presenting herself with both questions and answers; her syntactical structures are disrupted. This connection with her intimate self simultaneously opens onto a connection with the world itself. In Jean-Pierre Sarrazac’s words, the theatre of the intimate opens, “the space—in the smallness of the playhouse—for a regenerating encounter of the world and the I—and of the self with the Other,” with the nation (12, my translation). This encounter with the world remains cryptic for the members of the audience who have to decode the protagonist’s erratic inner flow and interpret its metaphorical significance. Remembering the words of her father, Ira, Madeline resumes the cultivation metaphor introduced in act 1: d r a m a o f h o p e 190 madeline: I have to be—the most I can be. I want the wind to have something to carry . . . The world is a—moving field. [Her hands move, voice too is as of a moving field.] Nothing is to itself. If America thinks so—America is like father . . . I don’t feel alone anymore. The wind has come through—wind rich from lives now gone. Grandfather Fejevary, gift from a field far off. Silas Morton. No, not alone anymore [feeling full of her heritage]. And afraid? I’m not afraid of being absurd...