Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Chapter 3 - Metamorphic ‘Bodies That Matter’: Process and Resistance


This chapter looks at Lady Gregory’s Grania (published 1912) and Marina Carr’s The Mai (1994), in which the central women live in exile, yet attempt to negotiate expression of their embodied subjectivity. The capacity to generate new forms is pursued through attention to the process of corporeal change: how the metamorphic body might refute and escape its unhomeliness. These protean bodies can draw attention to, and undermine, the relationship between form and the limitations it imposes, and furthermore evoke a female morphology which demands expression through an alternative cultural imaginary. While the chapter draws on Luce Irigaray’s advocation of a creative female corporeality which evokes a female imaginary, it also looks to Judith Butler’s work on those bodies which fail to signify or matter, and are delegitimated and abjected at the boundaries of the dominant social order. The chapter proposes that Grania’s and The Mai’s metamorphoses question interpretations of both plays’ endings as an act of despair and submission to abjection, instead offering performative confrontations with cultural representations of viable bodies.