A Foucauldian Reading of the Criminal Patient in Peter Shaffer’s Equus and the Psychiatric Prisoners in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman
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DANESH, Aram. A Foucauldian Reading of the Criminal Patient in Peter Shaffer’s Equus and the Psychiatric Prisoners in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, MA Thesis, Ankara, 2023. This thesis aims to make a Foucauldian analysis of the mental hospital as an institution as represented in Peter Shaffer’s Equus (1973), and the prison as an institution as represented in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman (2003), comparing them following Foucault’s arguments made mainly in his Discipline and Punish (1975), and examining how the mentally ‘ill’ subjects of these institutions are accordingly treated in the two selected British plays. The comparison mainly focuses on the techniques, apparatuses, motivations, and the role authorities (the psychiatrist and the policemen) play in ‘disciplining and punishing’ their ‘subjects’ (the inpatient and the inmate) within the institutions, and how they are so similar in that a prison is able to imprison a criminal who is mentally ‘ill,’ and that a mental hospital is able to admit a mentally ‘ill’ criminal person within its walls. Due to their shared use of Panopticon and surveillance, ability to form and enforce discourses, and ‘disciplining and punishing’ their ‘subject’ through physical and mental manipulation into ‘normality’ from ‘abnormality,’ the prison and the mental hospital are argued to ‘execute’ the subject or his/her individuality. The mental hospital is argued to ‘mentally execute’ its ‘subjects’ by removing from them the ‘abnormal’ parts of ‘uniqueness’ which make the person fall outside the discourse of the ‘norm,’ and the prison (in The Pillowman’s totalitarian setting) is argued to do this by removing the person from society by literally executing the criminal, hence ‘punishing’ the ‘subject’ and ‘disciplining’ the general society in the process.