Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Beth Osnes

Second Advisor

Bud Coleman

Third Advisor

Markas Henry


Male characters are at the forefront of Sam Shepard's plays and this is particularly clear with regard to the father/son dyad. The significant attention placed on male dominated relationships raises the question, what about the mothers? One body of work that may provide an answer to this question is the maternal theory concept of the myths of motherhood, which suggests that the mother figures in these plays are actually quite important. This thesis examines mother characters in three plays and demonstrates that by adhering to a certain myth and concurrently attempting to escape from this same myth, these women exhibit their relevance in respect to two common themes: identity and escape. Further, the present study raises questions concerning current cultural myths and highlights how Shepard's work surprisingly promotes a maternal perspective. This new view provides promising potential for more in-depth productions and a new understanding of the Shepard canon.