Thursday, March 27, 2014

U.S.! and The America Play

First off, U.S.! and The America Play have obvious similarities in their titles. Both titles play off the theme of American nationalism. The two works touch on themes such as reincarnation, history, and ghosts through their respective main characters. U.S.! uses Upton Sinclair as a symbol that represents change. Even in her death, he is still dangerous because of the ideas he proposed while living. In a sense, his persisting ideas are ghosts that continue to live on. As far as The America Play, Abraham Lincoln also serves as a symbol. In The America Play, the concept of reincarnation is prevalent throughout. Lincoln's continual reincarnation in the play is a more literal version of the rebirth of Sinclair's ideas in U.S.!

While both The America Play and U.S. have clear connection to American history, they also have traditional melodramatic elements. In The America Play, the reenactments of Lincoln's assassination paint a distinct villain and victim. A similar polarization can be seen in U.S.! between those who want to suppress Upton Sinclair's impact and those who aim to revive him, in a sense. Overall, I believe both these stories amused the public because people tend to enjoy participating in controversy, which actually ties into the melodramatic element of "picking a side". 

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