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Human beings have always found ways portraying and critiquing social issues that affects human beings which includes the use of literary avenues like poetry and plays. Each of those avenues has their specific target objectives when utilized to disseminate messages to the target audience. In that respect, the following essay takes a look at two plays composed by different playwrights to address the pertinent issues in their point of view. The two plays considered for this essay include trying to find Chinatown written by David Henry Hwang Mistaken Identity written by Sharon E. Cooper. Mistaken identity follows the lives of its main characters that are susceptible to making flawed assumptions about the rest of the individuals in their environment which build s up to the main conflict addressed throughout the play. On the other hand, the play by David Henry Hwang details the struggle of an individual trying to locate his father and the nature of racial profiling that takes place during the entire process.
Each of the plays mentioned above are unique in their ways but they share certain glaring differences and similarities that define the message they are trying to pass across to the audience. Both of the plays have a common theme of flawed assumptions that amount to profiling or discrimination due to their appearance or their mannerism compared to societal norms. Mistaken identity, for instance addresses the controversial issue of sexuality where one of the characters is a lesbian but she is afraid to let her family know this status for fear or disownment or other forms radical reaction. According to her family, her sexual preference is unorthodox thus unacceptable, this could be the reason why her brother is so eager to send her on several dates without realizing her real “identity”. Her plight is highlighted by the conversation she had with Steve as recorded below
STEVE: I’ve never thought about that thing you said.
KALI: Which thing would that be?
STEVE: The one where maybe you can’t see your nieces ’cause you’re gay. That must suck
The play explores how easily one can make assumptions about an individual concerning their personality, their preferences and their beliefs based on external appearances or characters. The second play also follows a similar pattern, in the sense that it highlights what stereotyping does through the main character Benjamin and Ronnie. The play details the interaction between a son looking for his father in china town and his interaction with an Asian violinist. Their conversation reveals how each individual views the other, surprisingly; it is Benjamin who makes a racial assumption about Ronnie (Hwang). In the heat of their conversation Ronnie calls Benjamin a “Hick” to which Benjamin retorts by saying “you can’t judge my race by my genetic heritage alone.” The difference between the two plays lies in the topics discussed in the sense that Mistaken Identity focuses on personal traits and appearance while Trying to Find Chinatown focuses on racial profiling.
Plays adopt a different outlook from that one portrayed in the poetry, fiction or any other literary pieces. Plays are typically composed of numerous conversations between various characters who serve to develop the chosen themes in the play. Plays often use proper English language without artistically shortened words or phrases. On the other hand, poetry is seldom in prose form with each line connected to the next line of each stanza. Regarding fictitious literary pieces, plays adopt story telling with certain end objectives to complete while fiction might tell a story for the sake of it. Plays tell the story through the actual words of the characters in the context of their environment thus opening the window for the ability to encompass certain opinions about any pertinent issue in society. Plays also differ from poetry in terms of length where the latter typically has a longer outlay in order to accommodate the story telling aspect of the play.
Each of the three genres namely fiction, poetry and drama are inherently different in every sense of the word but they manage to accomplish their goals with efficiency and effectiveness. Each genre appeals to different niches of the readers who have their preferences concerning literature. Poetry accomplishes its goals to simplicity and compactness which allow it to cover a specific topic in minimal length and artistic structure and play of words. Plays are more complex but they allow the author to develop and mould the plot using the characters to support the themes and pass across the message to the target audience (Sarker 17). Retrospectively, each literary piece plays an integral but separate role from the other. Regarding the two plays discussed in this essay, the play actively display scenarios in society that continually take place as human being interact with other human being who are not of the same cultural background of beliefs. The differences create room for stereotyping and profiling based on these external characteristics which eventually descend into discrimination from the involved individuals.
Hwang, David Henry. Trying to Find Chinatown: The Selected Plays of David Henry Hwang. Theatre Communications Group, 1999.
Sarker, Sunil Kumar. TS Eliot: Poetry, Plays and Prose. Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2000.
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