Maternal Martyrdom

Laura Copier

in Powers

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231560
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235537 | DOI:

Series: The Future of the Religious Past

Maternal Martyrdom

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This chapter offers an interpretation of Lieutenant Ripley, the female character in the Hollywood movie Alien3, who turned into a martyr by jumping into a cauldron of molten lead to save humanity from the alien queen she is hosting. It compares Ripley to Perpetua, the famous ancient female martyr. Building on Mieke Bal's work on quotation, it asks to what extent the contemporary and popular representation of Ripley reconfigures her historical predecessors such as Perpetua as female martyrs. The chapter further utilizes Elizabeth Castelli's analysis of gender as malleable to analyze female martyrs: Castelli argues that women martyrs typically adopted masculine features and abandoned their femininity, thereby transgressing and reaffirming gender difference. Perpetua's story has been taken to imply that mothers cannot be martyrs and vice versa, but Alien3 says otherwise. Although Ripley is strong and masculine, she embraces her motherhood at the moment of her self-sacrifice.

Keywords: Alien3; women martyrs; self-sacrifice; motherhood; Mieke Bal; Perpetua; Elizabeth Castelli; gender

Chapter.  8228 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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