The Violence at the Top of the Stairs: Domestic Dystopia in Inge’s Heartland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

William Inge’s 1950s Broadway dramas are known for depicting quiet desperation in the lives of ordinary Midwestern Americans. This essay probes the violence that explodes at key moments in the lives of Inge’s housewives and disappointed men in dead-end jobs—violence that 1950s reviewers recognized as seething under Inge’s kitchen sink realism but also ignored as a topic in its own right. Using Michael P. Johnson’s groundbreaking 2008 book A Typology of Domestic Violence, the essay discusses both Inge’s canny awareness avant la lettre (domestic violence was not named until the 1970s) and also his dramaturgical skills regarding when and how violence can be deployed to different ends. In Come Back, Little Sheba (1950), a drunken attack by a sexually and socially frustrated husband is the play’s climactic moment; it precipitates a denouement of rapprochement that might represent either capitulation or turning a corner of self-awareness. In The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957), a hu
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Violence at the Top of the Stairs: Domestic Dystopia in Inge’s Heartland
PublisherMcFarland
StatePublished - Sep 2011

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    Chansky, D. (2011). The Violence at the Top of the Stairs: Domestic Dystopia in Inge’s Heartland. In The Violence at the Top of the Stairs: Domestic Dystopia in Inge’s Heartland McFarland.