The Glass Menagerie

March 20, 2007

Having previously studied Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, and immensly enjoyed it, I was very excited when I heard about the oppurtunity to see the play preformed at the Imerial Theatre. Previously having negative experiences with opening night productions, I decided to go to Friday’s showing. I was most curious to see the set design. While I was slightly disapointed at the exclusion of the memory screen which flashes key thematic images throughout the original, it is understandable why it was excluded. Although the set was not designed as intended by the original, the stage was very appealing. Perhaps the most stunning element of the set was the illusion of transparent-like walls showing the crowded buildings in the background and the unrealistic lighting. The lighting was great for capturing the mood and the unrealistic nature of the “memory play”. 

Acting wise, the play was also great. I thought that Elizabeth Chase and Emily Davidson were great at playing Amanda and Laura; both accurating depicted the characters emotions. Although the actor who played Tom was good, I think he may have been a bit too comical for an acurate Tom. As a result of his witty preformance, the audience seemed to laugh at very significant and serious lines, not intended for laughter. Besides that small annoyance, watching the play was a positive experience that was very well preformed.

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February 23, 2007

The tension between the public and private sphere is revealed in Act IV with Lady Wishfort’s desperate attempt to conceal the drunken demeanour of Sir Wilfull. When she is reunited with her nephew, Wishfort is not concerned with establishing a personal or familial relationship with Wilful. Instead Wishfort is immediately anxious of her nephew’s public appearance and Milliamant’s reaction to his indecent behaviour. When staging this scene, Wishfort would be chasing after her intoxicated nephew frantically attempting to conceal his alcoholic beverage in order to prepare her estate for Sir Rowland’s entrance, while simultaneously persistently adjusting Wilfull’s external appearance to gain Milliamant’s acceptance. After Milliamant’s dissatisfied meeting with Wilfull, Wishfort’s primary concern is to hide her intoxicated nephew from Sir Rowland’s view: “get him away […] I have an affair of moment that invades me with some precipitation”(Act IV, 465-67). Wishfort’s fixation with the social appearance of Wilfull and her estate parallels the scene where she precisely calculates her external expressions and physical movements in preparation for Sir Rowland’s visit; just as she is concerned with the presentation of the room and her nephew, Wishfort is equally anxious of her appearance and physical composure. Although in previous scenes, Wishfort privately reveals her own excessive drinking of “cherry brandy”, she is publicly embarrassed by Wilfull’s intoxicated behaviour (Act III, 20). This scene further demonstrates Wishfort’s obsession with social appearances, and also emphasizes the play’s Capitalistic theme of the sacrifice of love for property and economic gain. Just as Mirabell arranges a martial contract in which Waitwell is married to Foible to secure his plan of gaining Milliamant’s dowry, Wishfort is willing to marry her niece to Wilfull to protect her fortune.

Hmm… what is there to say about Collier’s “Short View of the Immortality and Profaneness of the English Stage”? Well, it is basically an anti theatre pamphlet which attacks every convention of Restoration drama. Sounds intriguing does it not? Essentially, the provided excerpts critically scrutinize common Restoration theatrical traditions. Collier begins by expressing his personal thoughts of what a play should do:

 

            The business of plays is to recommend virtue, and discountenance vice; to show the uncertainty of human greatness, the sudden turns of fate, and the unhappy conclusions of violence and injustice: it is to expose the singularities of pride and fancy, to make folly and falsehood contemptible, and to bring every thing that is ill under infamy, and neglect (Collier, introduction).

 

According to Collier, these theatrical expectations are not upheld by Restoration drama. Collier argues that Restoration Comedies lack “morality”. He suggests that Restoration dramatists sacrifice morality for entertainment value. Instead of depicting “human greatness”, Restoration Comedies display “intolerable […] smuttiness of expression” through explicit profanity and by emphasizing the crudeness of life (Collier, introduction).  To Collier, the immortality of Restoration drama enforces such lewd behavior and consequently corrupts the audience: “it does in effect degrade human nature, sinks reason into appetite”(Collier). The reference to reason and appetite is Platonic; to Plato, a balance of appetite and reason is required to achieve the form of the good. Collier argues that the activities depicted by Restoration dramatists corrupt reason and emphasize appetite.

 

While I could comment further on Collier concerning his view on Restoration theater and religion, and the theatre and woman, I should probably be focusing my time on my group presentation for tomorrow’s class. I will most like comment more on this matter then, and post something on Congreve.

February 1, 2007

Having previously read other texts by Aphra Behn in past eighteenth century literature courses with displeasure, I had little expectations of The Rover. Although reading The Rover was not quite as dreadful as Oroonoko, I found little enjoyment out of reading the play. So, in the spirit of David Letterman, here is the top five (much too lazy for ten) reasons why Krystal is not as fond of Aphra Behn as she is of other Restoration, Romantic, Victorian, Modern, and Contemporary authors. (As a side note, this post is based on part one of The Rover, my post on part two will soon follow). 

 

5). I am not Charles II, nor am I anything like an eighteenth century Tory, so I have little sympathy for restoration political thought.

 From reading this text, and others by Behn, it is quite obvious that she is a Royalist and a supporter of Charles II. Throughout The Rover, Behn criticises Cromwell’s reign and praises the return of an English Monarchy. Behn frequently reveals her political position. For instance, in Act I, scene II Behn refers to the Parliamentary rule of Cromwell as “poor”, while praising the return of “the Court”(56, 60). I am assuming that this play was intended to be viewed by other Royalists, including Charles II, and therefore Behn’s political comments would have brought pleasure to such a monarch and his supporters; however, while Royalists would have found pleasure in such comments, I cannot relate to such political thoughts.  

4). Contrary to Virginia Woolf’s praise, Behn is not as subversive in her texts as I would have hoped. 

“All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn… for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”                                                                                    (Virginia Woolf) 

Virginia Woolf praises Aphra Behn not solely based on her literary works, but for her involvement in the female literary movement. Behn is considered “the first Englishwoman to earn her living by her pen”(Abrams 213). While I agree with Woolf, concerning the significance of Behn’s authorship, I cannot ignore her submissive depiction of femininity in The Rover 

In addition to the historical content of the play, The Rover is also a play that deals with issues of gender in the Restoration period. While the text does comment on the powerlessness of women in a patriarchal environment, Behn seems to enforce this notion of the female sex instead of subverting it. Behn displays the suppression of the female in Restoration society with Pedro’s authority over his sisters. Pedro “designed” his sister Hellena to be a nun (107). By forcing Hellena to the nunnery, Pedro attempts to mould her into his ideal sister. Pedro’s control over Hellena’s life demonstrates the patriarchy’s power over the female. Essentially, Pedro designs and creates Hellena into the role of his choice. Whenever Hellena questions Pedro’s intent, he becomes tempered and further demeans his sister by calling her a “wild cat”(176). Initially, Hellena resists his authority and sets out to look for love before she is condemned to the nunnery. Although she resists her brother’s authority, she falls victim to jealousy and marries Willmore, the town rake. Although her marriage to Willmore could be perceived as Hellena’s rejection of Pedro’s suppression, by choosing to marry Willmore, she simply rejects one patriarch and accepts another. 

Similarly, Angellica initially subverts the custom of males marrying women based on their finances, by placing a price on her marriage. Essentially, instead of a man marrying her for economic benefit, the man must pay a large few for her hand in marriage. In this way, the female would benefit from the marital arrangement, and not the male. However, Willmore secures the custom when Angellica submits to his charm and instead pays him for his love.  

Although I could comment more on the issue of gender in The Rover concerning Florinda, I think that I have ranted on enough on that topic for now. 

3). Yet another play with women in disguise. 

As humorous as women continuously dressing up as men can be, after reading three plays with similar themes it becomes a bit redundant. 

2). Aphra Behn?  

Is a silent h really necessary in the name Behn? How pretentious.

1). Oroonoko, Oroonoko, Oroonoko. 

All I can say is that I am not fond of that text, and never want to write a long paper on the topic again. Enough said.

January 25, 2007

Just to let everyone know, and I am sure that you are all eagerly waiting, that I will soon post an entry concerning William Wycherly’s The Country Wife. It seems that the majority of my class assignments are all due in the same week, but I will begin blogging again shortly.

Unlike other 3203 students, I am not fond of happy endings; instead, I relish the pessimistic conclusions of Modernist fiction. Yet, despite the play’s rapid resolution and somewhat optimistic ending, I found enjoyment in the satirical humour of John Dryden’s Marriage a la Mode. Because I intend to blog on Dryden’s essay, I will keep this entry on the play quite short and continue blogging on it throughout the week. So, for the time being I will briefly discuss the power of patriarchal figures, who seem to direct the actions of the play. Throughout the play, characters are confined by their patriarchal environments, or more specifically, by their paternal figures. Although the women of the play are most victimized by this patriarchal system, even the young men are confined by their fathers or father-like figures. Essentially, the fathers of the play attempt to determine the lives of their children. The comedy derives from the characters’ attempt to escape or deal with the lives that they are given, and the satirical display of marriage that comes from their dissatisfaction with matrimony.  Palamede, Rhodophil, Doralice, and Melantha are all in arranged relationships. Although in the end the characters realize that they do indeed have affection for their spouses, throughout the play they attempt to reject the established marital arrangement through adultery. Through their adulterous affairs, the characters can feel a sense of freedom, and reject the patriarchal order.

However, I did not find such enjoyment in Dryden’s “An Essay of Dramatic Poesy”. This dry and lengthy conversation between four men of “borrowed names”, Eugenius, Crites, Lisideius and Neander, defend dramatic rhyme and the English dramatic tradition. In this essay, four men provide contrasting positions on literary and dramatic practice in a Platonic like dialogue of questions and answers. In his essay, Dryden establishes a dialogue; however, unlike the traditional Platonic dialogue, typically between two people, Dryden’s essay includes four men with contrasting positions concerning aspects of Ancient and Modern drama as well as French and English dramatists. Although I am not particularly fond of Plato’s philosophical views or dogmatic dialogues I would prefer the energy and clarity of a Platonic text over Dryden’s essay. While the essay offers insight to several perspectives, it lacks the cohesiveness of a Platonic dialogue.  

The dispute begins with the men arguing over the merits of Ancient and Modern “Dramatique Poesie” and an argument over which dramatic form is superior. Through this dispute, Dryden provides his definition of a play: “A just and lively Image of Humane Nature, representing its Passions and Humours, and the Changes of Fortune to which it is subject; for the Delight and Instruction of Mankind”. Although this is said by Lisideius, Dryden exhibits this definition in Marriage a la Mode. Throughout the play, Dryden satirizes the “passions and humours” of human nature with his comical depiction of marriage and adultery.

Anyways, due to a lack of time I will cut this blog short and return again shortly. See everyone in class! 

First Post

January 16, 2007

Well, I would like to provide a substantial entry concerning Dryden’s Marriage a la Mode, but due to work I will have to procrastinate even further. Although my post on the play will not be provided today, I thought that I should at least submit a blog along with all the other English 3203 students. So hello for now, and I am eager to begin blogging with all of you. As for now, here is a very humorous line from the play:

  “My comfort is thou art not immortal”(61).