Marsha Norman (21 Sep. 1947)
According to Jessie, it is better to exchange disastrously frustrated life with the redemptive joy and worth of suicide. To Jessie, suicide might have emerged worthwhile because her present life with a trademark of futility was sterile and worthless. The significant factor of 'night, Mother is not the event of Jessie's suicide. Far more significant aspect of Marsha Norman's 'night, Mother is Jessie's planning and preparing for suicide in a casual manner. She not only prepares for suicide, but discusses with her mother, Thelma, about her seriously and thoughtfully developed a desire to commit suicide. By dramatizing Jessie's cool style of discussing suicide Marsha Norman has not tried to defend a right to suicide in the wake of utter futility and frustration in life. Nor does the playwright intend to vindicate Jessie's act of suicide. Still ahead Marsha Norman has not asserted a defeated and frustrated woman's right to give appropriate destination for her shipwrecked life. Jessie's life was shipwrecked. Her life became an oven of frustration and breeding ground of futility. To bring the shipwrecked life of her to the destination she chooses suicide. Here the playwright has not taken it as her primary duty to vindicate Jessie's suicidal choice.
It is doubtless true that Jessie's suicide is dramatized to the point of shocking frankness. But Norman has not philosophized Jessie's crime of suicide. If such is a case, what does Marsha Norman intend to say? What is the duty of Marsha Norman as a playwright of 'night, Mother? Perhaps Marsha Norman is saying that even an epileptic, powerless, jilted and deviant woman like Jessie Cates can go to such a shocking extent of ending life on the glorious and dignified platform of suicide. Who could believe that such a terrible audacity to commit suicide had been in Jessie Cates? This boldness to commit suicide on the part of Jessie suggests that however frustrated and futile, a woman can go to a shocking extent of taking beautifully violent decision like suicide.
Nobody could easily have believed in the tremendous potentiality of Jessie. Even Jessie's mother, Thelma had no idea about this suicidal potentiality of Jessie. This play is feministic to the effect that it represents how much a woman is capable of when she is face to face with the danger of virtual extinction.