Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The two most significant plays in American history

"Death of a Salesman," Arthur Miller
"You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away--a man is not a piece of fruit!" Willy Loman cries as he's getting fired. And in this line we see the dehumanization of capitalism. In "Death of a Salesman," Miller explores the marketplace value of humanity, where all that matters is what a man can produce and acquire, where the economic value of the man is seen as the whole value of the man...and what is lost in such a value system.

In various places, I get to see how economists and capitalists think. And I wish for them all to read "Death of a Salesman." I wish for us to see that human dignity matters more than marketplace capitalism, and that humans have value beyond their economic value. In a country where more and more economics define the value of a human, "Death of a Salesman" is the most necessary--and the most tragic--of American plays.

"M. Butterfly," David Henry Hwang
Everything is explored here. Race. Gender. Sex. Nationality. Stereotypes. Assumptions. Image. Perception. Power. No matter how many times I teach it, I still look forward to teaching it again. At one time I was asked what book every college student should read, and I said To Kill a Mockingbird. Today I say "M. Butterfly." There are ideas in this play that simply must be considered.

No comments:

Post a Comment