Persona and Rebellion in Trickster Narratives. Case Study: Fleabag (BBC 2016-2019)
This paper brings together the concept of persona and the figure of the trickster to examine the dynamic between social norms and creative noncompliance, between the social mask and human authenticity, in moving image narratives. In particular, it looks at the female trickster challenging the female persona in recent television shows, primarily BBC’s Fleabag (2016-2019), using the previously outlined framework of trickster attributes (Bassil-Morozow 2012; Bassil-Morozow 2015).
The concept of persona is examined using a combination of Erving Goffman’s presentation of self theory and Jung’s persona concept. It is argued that the female persona – the artificial vision of socially acceptable femininity – is a particularly rigid psycho-social structure, comprising repressive and unrealistic expectations for women’s looks, bodies, and conduct in public situations. Using the nameless protagonist of Fleabag as a case study, the paper shows how the female trickster can challenge these prescribed attributes and expectations while defying the individual-controlling techniques: shame, social embarrassment, social rejection and ostracism.
Baron-Cohen, S 2019, ‘Sacha Baron Cohen's Keynote Address at ADL's 2019 Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate’, ADL, viewed on 18/08/20, available from: https://www.adl.org/news/article/sacha-baron-cohens-keynote-address-at-adls-2019-never-is-now-summit-on-anti-semitism.
Bassil-Morozow, H 2013, The Trickster in Contemporary Film, London: Routledge.
Bassil-Morozow, H 2015, The Trickster and the System: Identity and Agency in Contemporary Society, London: Routledge.
Beauvoir, S de 1997/1949, The Second Sex, London: Vintage Classics.
Byok, JL (translated and edited by) (2005) The Prose Edda, London: Penguin.
Hynes, WJ and Doty, W (eds.) (1993) Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press.
Goffman, E 1966, Behaviour in Public Places: Notes on Social Organization of Gatherings, New York: The Free Press.
Goffman, E 1990, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, London: Penguin.
Goffman, E 2005, Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face-to Face Communication, New Brunswick and London: AldineTransaction.
Jacobi, J 1973/1942 The Psychology of C.G.Jung (Eighth Edition), trans. Ralph Manheim, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Jung CG [Except where a different publication was used, all references are to the hardback edition] C.G. Jung, The Collected Works (CW), edited by Sir Herbert Read, Dr. Michael Fordham and Dr. Gerhardt Adler, and translated by R.F.C. Hull, London: Routledge.
Kerényi, K 1956, ‘The Trickster in Relation to Greek Mythology’, in Paul Radin The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology, New York: Schocken Books.
Kristeva, J 1982, The Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection, New York: Columbia University Press.
Makarius, L 1993, ‘The Myth of the Trickster: the Necessary Breaker of Taboos’, in in WJ Hynes and W Doty (eds.) Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, pp. 46-65.
Marshall, PD, Moore, C and Barbour, K 2020, Persona Studies: An Introduction, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley and Sons.
Murdoch, M 1990, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
Ricketts, ML 1993 ‘The Shaman and the Trickster’, in W. J. Hynes and W. Doty (eds.) (1993) Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, pp. 90-106.
Russo, M 1997, The Female Grotesque: Risk, Excess and Modernity, London: Routledge.
Tannen, RS 2007, The Female Trickster: the Mask that Reveals, London: Routledge.
Turner, V 1975, Revelation and Divination in Ndemby Ritual, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Turner, V 1979, Process, Performance and Pilgrimage, New Delhi: Naurang Rai
Van Gennep, A 1909/2004, The Rites of Passage, London: Routledge.
Copyright (c) 2020 Helena Bassil-Morozow
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.