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Stevenson, B.E. (1998). Silenced Women, Personal Art, and Motherhood. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(2):183-192.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(2):183-192

Silenced Women, Personal Art, and Motherhood

Brenda E. Stevenson, Ph.D.

The central concept of Jcean Campion's The Piano turns on the issue of patriarchal privilege, especially as it is expressed in ownership of the female body and property. The piano symbolizes many things, among them the struggle between the three principal characters—Ada, Stewart, and Baines—for the ownership of Ada—her heart, soul, and body—and her property. Ada believes that her body, and her piano, belong to her. They are hers to share or give as she desires. Her husband disagrees, and in the subtle, but pitched, melee that results, everyone and everything is morally compromised. As such, Campion forces her audience to consider the fragility of nineteenth century patriarchal culture and the fate of the women who dared to resist its oppressive nature.

Part One: Woman's Place in a Man's World

By the 1820s most popular social architects of the western world and its colonies perceived spheres of human activity divided by gender—spheres that, not coincidentally, separated the public from the private both philosophically and practically. The character traits that professional advisors of the day applauded in men and women were directly linked to these distinctions.

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