Is Moo in the play Moo by Sally Clark a liberated woman—and if so, is this a feminist play?
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In Sally Clark's play, Moo, I don't see Moo as a liberated woman, neither do I believe this is a feminist play. First, the timeframe is off: the feminist movement began to gain momentum in the 1960s, not at the start of the 20th Century. Rather than being seen as a feminist model, Moo is presented as indulged and stubborn woman. Moo and Harry meet in 1919, and he has her committed in 1925. What we might see as feminism today would have been seen as mental illness or eccentricity at that period of time. Similar to the heroine in Auntie Mame, Moo does not worry about what her family or Harry thinks. She simply decides what she wants and goes for it.
Until the late twentieth century, almost all Canadian literature appeared to be self-restricted...The daring and inventiveness of [writers like] Margaret Atwood, however, [has] helped Canadian literature, including drama, achieve a new level of mature confidence.
Sally Clark play seems not at all self-restricted. In the more modern writing of her era, Clark sets her play in the early 20th Century, addressing not women's lib, but more so the uncertain position women occupied in society at that time.
The feminist movement was galvanized by women who wanted to be considered equal to their male counterparts: equal pay for the same work, equal opportunities to get into college, and the same abilities to pursue any career without regard to gender.
The feminist movement in the United States and abroad was a social and political movement that sought to establish equality for women.
Moo does not want to be Harry's equal. She just wants Harry. If she wanted to be his equal, she would never have chased after him with every postcard, especially after he had her committed to an insane asylum.
In her notes in the preface to the play, Clark explains that she was raised hearing about rotters:
Rotters seduced wealthy women and then deserted them.
If Moo was liberated, she would have left this "rotter" in the dust, but she doesn't...even telling him that if he wants her money, she will give it to him. If she were liberated, she might have been more interested in getting her revenge, but she does not. When Harry shoots her in the head, he is flirting with her sister Ditty. When the next scene begins, Harry apologizes, but Moo doesn't think twice about the accident—a simple "graze."
You don't think I tried to gun you down, do you, Moo?
Of course not, Harry.
Moo wants marriage, to which Harry only casually agrees—he is, after all, only a rotter. A liberated woman would not be interested in marriage as much as having a relationship: being the equal to the man she loved or wanted.
When the doctor at the asylum realizes that they have kept Moo under false pretenses, he is full of apologies. The only thing that Moo cares about is where Harry is so that she can chase him down, as she will do time and again throughout her life.
In truth, Moo is realistic as she describes her attraction to Harry as an obsession:
Wanting to see Harry is a disease. Not yet categorized, but it is a disease.
She is not liberated. With every postcard (that he says he sends to drive Moo crazy), she runs off to try to find him, attempting to make him into the man she wants him to be—with her. Rather than liberated, I see Moo to be more a slave to her own obsession with Harry—who may love her in his strange way, but does not really care for her.
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