Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Jeremy Green

Second Advisor

Dr. Jane Garrity

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Nauman

Abstract

This thesis explores the dense symbolic world of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist through theories of the grotesque. I will argue that Antichrist confronts a repressed cultural ideology regarding dangerous femininity that continues to inform modern Western culture. By recreating the Biblical fall in the fictional realm of “Satan’s church” von Trier exposes the historical gendering of the threatening aspects of nature—chaos, death, and evil—as feminine in Christian theology. But, while this distorted Christian creation myth frames the story, the interaction between the two protagonists, “He” and “She,” reflects familiar discourses of modern gender politics. Antichrist exposes the underlying cultural anxiety around women’s bodies that continues to motivate modern sanctions on female sexuality and reproduction as echoes of archaic, misogynist perceptions of femininity. Von Trier uses the female grotesque motif to confront this cultural anxiety around female sexuality, rather than to promote it. Antichrist inverts Christian iconography and myth to subvert the hierarchical gender roles that Christianity has historically helped to construct.

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