The common lore of Sarah Kane scholarship is that Blasted’s characters are initially naturalistic, denoting Cartesian or liberal-humanist subjectivity, and later, are determined products (i.e. “animals” or linguistic fragments). This article shows that such assumptions are erroneous. Kane’s characters, Ian and Cate, are naturalistic; however, an examination of character in the naturalist theatre tradition reveals, not a fixed and autonomous agent, but an individual who is complexly organized by natural and cultural parts and founded upon a compatibilist model of mind. By reflecting upon the “conglomerate” naturalistic character articulated by August Strindberg, in his preface to Miss Julie (1888), the article shows that Kane’s changing dramaturgical treatment of character reveals, not different models of self, but one hybrid individual, capable of change and self-determination. Rethinking Kane’s characters, in this way, as human(ist) (but not liberal-humanist) subjects, the article brings into focus a politics for Blasted that is emancipatory: crucially, people are changeable and the human species has some capacity to determine its future.


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pp. 252-272
Launched on MUSE
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