Silence That Speaks


Erda Wati Bakar, Noraini Md Yusof & Ravichandran Vengadasamy
Pusat Pengajian Bahasa dan Linguistik
Fakulti Sains Sosial dan Kemanusiaan
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia


Kee Thuan Chye in all four of his selected plays has appropriated and reimagined history by giving it a flair of contemporaneity in order to draw a parallel with the current socio-political climate. He is a firm believer of freedom of expression and racial equality. His plays become his didactic tool of expressing his dismay and frustration towards the folly and malfunctions in the society. He believes that everybody needs to rise and eliminate their fear from speaking up their minds regardless of their race, status and gender. In all four of his plays, Kee has featured and centralised his female characters by empowering them with voice and agency. Kee gives fair treatment to his women by painting them as strong, liberated, determined and fearless beings. Armed with the literary tools of feminist dialogics which is derived from Bakhtin’s theory of utterances and dialogism and strategies of historical re-visioning, this study investigates and explores Kee’s representations of his female characters and the various ways that he has liberated them from being passive and silent beings. He has turned them into intrepid and dissecting characters who dare to contest the norms, values and even traditions. It is found that the dissecting voices of Kee’s female characters contain veiled messages and it is dialogic in nature. Their voices are caught in between opposition and struggle which echoes   Kee’s manifested resistance towards the authority’s establishment of power.
Keywords: Bakhtin’s Dialogism, feminist dialogics, history, re-visioning strategies, voice


Kee Thuan Chye is a prominent name in Malaysian literary scene and he has been described as one of the protagonists in Malaysian...