Critical Approaches to Metamorphosis

Critical Approaches to Metamorphosis


Publius Ovidius Naso was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid. Ovid wrote on topics of love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses focuses on ten (10) stories mythologically based on Ovid’s Greco Roman myths in which a series of transformations unfold. Metamorphoses has had many reviews, most of them positive. Four of the approaches used by the critics include: normative, genre, literary history and interdisciplinary.

Key elements of the normative approach include positive and negative reactions, although most of the reviews were of a positive nature. For instance, Christopher Rawson described the play as “charming”, “brilliantly theatrical” and “warmly entertaining.” Rawson further described the play as “elegant”, “comic” and “thoughtful” (B-3). Misha Berson said Metamorphoses is “exquisite and astute.” Ms. Berson also added that it was “highly accessible” and “richly entertaining” as Ms. Zimmerman uses a combination of costumes and a pool as the setting. Ms. Berson also describes it as “seamless” and “varied” (E1). Diane Sprung used the word “genius” to describe Ms. Zimmerman’s work in Metamorphoses (2A) and Everett Evans used the word “grace” in referring to Ms. Zimmerman’s as the transition between stories is easy to follow. Ben Brantley pointed to “a tasteful musical score” also noting positive remarks (E1). Judith Newmark was also positive as she described this play as “big brave theater” and used
the word “imaginative” in referring to Ms. Zimmerman’s theatrical aspiration (F13). Most of the reviews were positive but Brendan Lemon described the play as “leisurely pacing” and refers to the narration as “lethargic” (13).

As to the genre approach, most critics said that Metamorphoses was an adaptation of Ovid’s myths. Key elements include such comments by Judith Newmark who described the play as a “drama” (F13). Michael Eddy...

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