Select either A Raisin in the Sun or A Doll's House, and write a 5-paragraph essay explaining how the play reflects the society in which it was produced. This essay is worth 100 points.
Theater and Society Essay Requirements
To enhance the understanding and enjoyment of a play production, it is important to be familiar with the history, the culture, psychology, and philosophy of the period in which the was written. There is a very close relationship between art and the society which produced it. In The Theater Experience, Wilson states that ” art represents the society in which it was produced. With very few exceptions – and those are soon forgotten – art is a mirror of its age, revealing prevailing attitudes, underlying assumptions, and deep seated beliefs of a particular group of people.”
Write a 5-Paragraph Essay
Select either A Raisin in the Sun or A Doll’s House, and write a 5-paragraph essay explaining how the play reflects the society in which it was produced. This essay is worth 100 points
Sample Essay Answer
The determination to develop and overcome the struggles of life depends on the unity of the family. It is reflected in the play, “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry that was published by Random House in the year 1959. The play depicts the lives of black family members who happened to live in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. Since time immemorial, Chicago is better known for habiting black residents who constitute the majority of the population. Also, it is evident that most people who resided in this region ranged from middle class earners to low income earners. However, most individuals were determined in bettering their lives and sustaining themselves. The play reflects on real life situations and societal issues that have encroached in many communities. Therefore, the creativity used in writing the play represents contemporary issues and challenges as they happen in the society.
The most important aspect that is depicted in the play is the love and unity that extends to the family members. In a black American neighborhood setup, family always comes first, and the family members will always defend one another in times of happiness and hardship. The play uses characters that are languishing in poverty and live in a two bedroom apartment which is too small to accommodate all the family members (Hansberry 2). Also, the family has experienced a loss from the death of their father and expects to get an insurance payout that will help in improving their lives. All these scenarios reflect on real life situations within the Chicago neighborhood where blacks and whites don’t get same opportunities. Perhaps, in any normal life situations loving families, there are conflicts that arise amongst family members which sometimes intensify. As is depicted in the play, Walter is determined to use part of the Insurance payout to open up a liquor store whereas her mother Lena is against the idea because of her religious beliefs (Hansberry 22). However, in the end, the family can resolve their disputes and is willing to support one another in the struggle to better their lives.
Chicago’s racial discrimination and segregation are issues that have been in existence since time immemorial. The play mirrors the true image of societal rotting and the issues of sexism and racism in America. The recurring struggles of the black men and women characters in the play present a realistic light. Discrimination has subjected most of the black people to languish in poverty. Walter in the play is a limousine driver and barely makes enough money to support him and the family (Hansberry 2). Also, black people are portrayed as irresponsible, hostile and lack clear direction with their lives as portrayed by Walter as having the plan to capitalize in a liquor supply. In fact, black people are only viewed to represent negative qualities in a society that is why even in their housing policies there are houses for blacks and houses for whites within a neighborhood (Hansberry 80). Also, it is perceived that black residential houses are of low quality and are designed to support the black people. As Lena, Walter’s mother attributes, she chose a black neighborhood over the white for the simple fact that it was cheaper and affordable (Hansberry 2). In the end, the play depicts the characters surmounting to the racial discriminations and overcoming racism as they intend to move to their newly found home that is neighboring exclusively white people.
Gender issues and negative attitudes towards black people is embraced by a substantial number of people in Chicago. Members of the society have always perceived gender when socializing and interacting with others. In the play Female characters are portrayed as victims that are subjected to discriminations because of the gender dynamics in the society. For instance, Beneatha’s life is portrayed as being defined by two men who shows interest in her. Hansberry explains that the two men namely Joseph Asagai and George Murchison show interest in her, but they are depicted to be wealthy and well educated (36). Because Beneatha is black she is blamed for being the cause of her poverty and that there are many opportunities that she could have capitalized to better her life and that of her family. The negative attitude developed by the two men result to negligence to supporting poor Beneatha with her financial problems. Also, George denies his black heritage by replacing it with an attitude of being smarter than anybody else. Perhaps, all these characters reflect on experiences of black people in a neighborhood surrounded by white people environment (222).
In conclusion, the play centers on the struggles of African Americans in Chicago who are trying to improve their lives. In general, most people struggle to overcome segregations and discriminations due to color, race, and gender. It depicts on the fact that some people value some beliefs that shape their characters. It has been proven that most blacks were segregated to a point that they can neither share a house nor a neighborhood. With the issues of segregation and discrimination resolved people can live independently and for themselves.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun: A Drama in Three Acts. New York: Random House, 1959. Print
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