Dichotomy In The Family Table

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The play rotates between three heterosexual couples, basing its structure on the principles of Cixous’ understanding of dichotomy within the couple. Cixous defines this dichotomy as deeply engrained in our culture, saying, “Logocentrism subjects thought—all concepts, codes, and values—to a binary system, related to ‘the’ couple, man/woman,” (Cixous, 67). Cixous argues that all thought and language is structured around the binary created by the opposition between male and female. This extreme separation of the genders creates a dichotomy that casts the couple into predetermined roles, played opposite each other. The structure of The Family Table initially makes this dichotomy a focal point of the performance, as it switches between three couples:…show more content…
Arthur and Teri, as an older couple more entrenched in tradition, are deeply defined by the dichotomy: Arthur is the breadwinner, playing the “active” masculine role, while Teri acts as mother and homemaker. Deanna initially challenges the passive female role, by making the first move, but Aaron quickly recovers the active role in their relationship by pursuing her romantically, settling them into the traditional dichotomy as defined by Cixous. John and Jen, the main couple, initially challenge that dichotomy, but John starts to resent Jen’s refusal to be passive. The play-text itself is prefaced by an author’s note that places emphasis on the importance of dichotomy: “The minimalism of the space should inform the actors’ performances. There should be no extravagance in their actions or voices. Do not be afraid to mumble, and do not be afraid of silence,” (O’Malley, Author’s…show more content…
He is supportive of Jen’s career at first, but the strains it puts on their relationship eventually causes John to try and force Jen back into the passive role that the dichotomy commands. The turning point comes at dinner with his parents. Arthur, as a staunch traditionalist (and therefore a supporter of the traditional dichotomy that Cixous so hates), despises Jen’s choice to pursue a career. After this dinner, John attempts to convince Jen to start a family, despite the issues in their marriage; Irigaray addresses the issue of motherhood in her essay by arguing, “As mother, the woman remains on the side of reproductive nature, and, because of this, man can never transcend his relation to the ‘natural,’” (Irigaray, 62). Motherhood is therefore associated with the passivity Cixous wrote about, something that men never have to contend with. It is delegated to women as their “natural” role in the dichotomy. In asking for children, John attempts to replace Jen’s more masculine, career-oriented activity with the passive feminine role called for by the dichotomy. He tells her, “I love you more than anything in the world, and I love being married to you. I love living with you. I want to have kids with you.

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