Hey everyone! I hope you had a great Christmas :) Starting in November 2016, I decided to categorize my reading of classic literature into themes per month. November was war novels, and December is plays! So here are some mini reviews of three plays I've read this month- more will be on the way! (Don't worry, none of them are like Othello/Oedipus Classic-y, more modern classics!)
Author: Edward Albee
Blurb: A dark comedy, it portrays husband and wife George and Martha in a searing night of dangerous fun and games. By the evening's end, a stunning, almost unbearable revelation provides a climax that has shocked audiences for years. With the play's razor-sharp dialogue and the stripping away of social pretense, Newsweek rightly foresaw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as "a brilliantly original work of art--an excoriating theatrical experience, surging with shocks of recognition and dramatic fire [that] will be igniting Broadway for some time to come.
Me: Wow this was...interesting. The dialogue, the characters, the setting, and the tone- everything about this play was entrancing. Literally. Whenever I picked up this book from whatever else I was doing, I had to force myself to put it down to do other things. It is incredible that such a complex, dark, and sarcastic story can be told just by characters speaking. I could hear the voices in my head as I read.
The play features two couples, one old and loud and slightly embarrassing and one young and quiet, at 3 am in the morning at the old couple's home. The play starts out quite normal, but the reader can tell right away that something is off. As the play progresses, the tension that builds up among the characters is so real you can almost touch it. In the end, it was a hooking story of love, sanity, power, and desperateness within relationships.
The only issue I had was the "climax/twist" wasn't very climactic, because I didn't really understand it. Even when I figured out the truth, it wasn't as huge in terms of the plot. Because of this, the ending felt a little sudden and unresolved, but maybe if I read it again later I'll see the appeal.
Title: The Crucible
Author: Arthur Miller
Blurb: Based on historical people and real events, Miller's drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town's most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence.
Me: First things first, I'm glad I read this by myself before I ever encountered it in a classroom setting, because that seems to be one of the main reasons people dislike it. I personally really enjoyed it, especially having gone through U.S. History and learning about the Salem Witch Trials; it was interesting to see it both academically and literarily.
This play really shows what people will do to maintain order and unity and what change and fear can do to a community. The case of the witch trials themselves are a timeless example of targeting "outcasts", but Miller creates characters and dialogue that is so desperate and alive. It shows the fear in the prosecutor and the prosecuted and makes sure that we consider what is truly right and wrong, and that we are not afraid to hold our ground for what is right.
As Giles Corey said while dying from being pressed by large stones for not confessing, "More weight."
Title: The Vagina Monologues
Author: Eve Ensler
Blurb: I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues...At first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one's ever asked them before.
Me: Well, this play was certainly ground-breaking for me, and probably for a lot of people everywhere. It's short, sweet, and straight to the point- there is no shame or "WARNING" at all, and that is the point. Eve Ensler wants women to liberate their bodies, to acknowledge that their bodies, and especially their vaginas, are as much as a part of they are as their minds. It was an interesting concept.
I'm not sure if it really works though. It certainly raises conversation, which is liberating in itself. But I don't know if the way that language and symbolism is used in the monologues is truly doing what it could/should. I agree with Ensler's idea, and her goal. But to me, I felt detached from the monologues just because personally, I don't see a vagina as all that worthy of writing about. It's just a body part.
I'm very conflicted about this, as you might tell. It taught me that female bodies should not be an uncomfortable topic, but I'm not ready to call it my "feminist manifesto" yet.
Rating: 3 kisses!