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Society In Modern Drama Essay

4157 words - 17 pages

Society plays an important role in shaping the characters involved in theater. According to Karl Marx, society affects every single aspect of our life including theater. "Literature reflects class struggle and materialism: think how often the quest for wealth defines characters."(Introduction to Literature Dr. Porterfield Handout). In my paper I'll examine the impact of society and the projection of the playwrights on the characters of two well-known twentieth-century plays: Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, and John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Though the two plays might seem poles apart, because each one belongs to a different society and era, I see a resemblance in the way Williams and Osborne reflected the American society of the forties and the English society of the fifties. The way I'll analyze the influence of society in each play is by giving different examples from both of the plays and illustrate through them to what extent the characters are motivated by society or by the playwright's own life.In A Streetcar Named Desire, the pressure of society as well as Williams' personal experiences, constitute major motivation for most of the characters. For instance, it's very beneficial to dissect the case of the suicide of Blanche's husband Allen, to show how the social pressure was a cause of his death. Though the play begins with Blanche's arrival at her sister's residence, the actual beginning of the play occurs way before that date, the day Allen shot himself. Blanche and Allen were in love. They were young people rejoicing in their love. Blanche's dilemma began when she found out that she is not the only sexual partner in Allan's life. She discovered that her beloved husband had other sexual interests manifested in his relationship with an older guy. The "queer" intercourse of Allen and his partner aroused her disgust to an extent that she found no escape but to confront him. By stepping towards confrontation, Blanche was stepping towards the end of her love of a lifetime. (Blanche's 'light' images are related to Allan, her first and only love): "It was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow" (Griffin, 68) Blanche's repulsion doesn't only come out of her personal aversion to homosexuality; it's constituted of accumulated layers of society's approach towards this sensitive issue. According to Carl Jung, who evolved the collective unconscious theory, "The collective unconscious is the part of the mind that is determined by heredity. So we inherit, as part of our humanity, a collective unconscious; the mind pre-figured by evolution just as in the body."(Carl Jung and the Collective Unconscious)What I want to stress here is that in America of the1940s, the idea of having homosexual relationship was prohibited by society. The rejection even transcended the American society to reach a more cosmic unified perception of the idea that resides in our mind throughout ages of evolution...

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