Abstract

Brewer, "The Liberating and Debilitating Imagination in Joanna Baillie's Orra and The Dream"

Of Joanna Baillie’s two tragedies on the passion of fear, Orra has received far more attention than The Dream and the two dramas have seldom been compared, even though they are both set in the fourteenth century in or near Switzerland, feature imprisonments and escape attempts, and contain scenes of Gothic terror. Orra and The Dream contest essentialist conceptions of gender and suggest that patriarchal control is dependent on superstition and terrorism. Moreover, Baillie’s plays on fear indicate that in the struggle against paternalistic repression, alert pragmatism is less imaginative but more effective than fearful utopianism.