A: Susan Glaspell Pf: 1921, New York Pb: 1922 G: Drama in 3 acts S: A greenhouse and a ‘twisted tower’, USA, 1920s C: 5m, 4f Claire Archer is a plant scientist, attempting to cultivate an entirely new species in her experimental greenhouse. Similarly, in her relations with her husband Harry, her friend Dick, and her lover Tom Edgeworthy, she is hoping to go beyond conventional gender relationships to ‘achieve integrity in otherness’. She dismisses her daughter Elizabeth, who seems entirely happy to conform to the conventional role of woman. Although it appears to ‘go outside what it was’, her newly developed ‘Edge Vine’ proves infertile, so Claire uproots it. Despite the scepticism of the men, she persists with her experiments and succeeds in producing a new plant capable of reproduction, ‘The Breath of Life’. Her lover Tom seems to begin to understand her quest, but she finds his love oppressive, and fearing that she may succumb to conventional feminine quiescence, strangles him in a last embrace.
A: Susan Glaspell Pf: 1921, New York Pb: 1922 G: Drama in 3 acts S: A greenhouse and a ‘twisted tower’, USA, 1920s C: 5m, 4f
Significantly, a male writer in 1972 described this as being a play about a woman ‘on the verge of insanity’. A post-feminist era may recognize that it is about a woman, in however extreme a manner, on the verge of transforming conventional biological patterns. Glaspell presents this challenging figure in a symbolic setting, using Expressionistic lighting and sound. It stands as Glaspell's most provocative and interesting play and as a powerful piece of early feminist writing.