Literary Game Theory and Monstrous Femininity
Daniel, Sarah Nicole
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Throughout time, powerful women have been perceived as threats to systems of masculine control. These women have been deemed UnWomen—other than what Woman should be—and are read, throughout literature, as the archetypal, monstrous femme fatale. This UnWoman embodies Kristeva’s abject and Freud’s uncanny, being perceived by her culture as generally monstrous. When this type of woman is read from the Game Theory perspective, the monstrous woman—disturbing to masculine power structure and veiled in the uncanny—often fulfills the role of game-master. Within the theoretical structure of the godgame, specifically, the game-maker (and primary game-master) are similarly veiled within a type of “undecidability.” When the reader ventures to explore beyond the archetypal label of femme fatale, the characters who have often been designated to this flat role prove to possess more controlling power than is typically considered. This thesis employs a combination of feminist, queer, and game theoretical readings to explore five of these women: Morgan la Faye and the Lady of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Eve of Paradise Lost, and Westworld’s Dolores and Maeve. Using this type of theoretical approach, each of these women prove to possess significant, though often veiled, controlling power over their respective gamespaces, making them into, not mere femme fatales, but rather autonomous and complex game-masters who work to dismantle and control the game’s male-dominated power structure.