The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

by George Ryga

Start Free Trial

What does the title "The Ecstasy of Rita Joe" signify in relation to the play?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ecstasy can be defined as the state of being beside oneself emotion or passion. Using that definition, one can see that the whole play is structured on the basis of Rita Joe's ecstasy. The events of her life—her troubled childhood on the reservation, her experiences of prejudice and marginalization in the city, the injustice she encounters in court—all of them swirl about her, inducing the kind of strong emotion one often associates with being in a state of ecstasy.

Ecstasy can also refer to the intense mystical vision that Rita Joe experiences towards the end of the play. Tapping into the ancient traditions of her people, Rita Joe undergoes a prophetic transformation, which moves both herself and the audience to a whole new understanding of the plight of Canadian Indians. Re-establishing a connection with her native heritage allows her to see things more clearly; her contemplation of the divine, as seen in the clouds and light in the sky, transcends the modern world in which she is marginalized, ignored, and despised.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial