English / Looking At American Society From The Plays

Looking At American Society From The Plays

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Autor:  anton  05 January 2011
Tags:  Looking,  American,  Society
Words: 1183   |   Pages: 5
Views: 327

The statement “embedded in every major play written by an American playwright is a

Critique of American society” is valid for both American Buffalo and Burried Child. While in American Buffalo, effects of materialism and capitalism are clearly seen, Burried Child differently is a metaphorical one containing Americans’ sins they buried, like Vietnam War , slavery, genocide of Native Americans, atom bomb.But when we search the reasons of these sins, we come across the same thing, capitalism.

In American Buffalo, Mamet is approaching to the immoralities of the American society which are caused by business, capitalism and materialism. He chooses the business as the main theme of the play to show his criticism. Business in America is still controlled by “American Dream.” Because of this, characters in the play are depicted in the way that they are affected badly by the concept of “strive and succeed” and they are victims of capitalist and materialistic world of America. The goal of the characters in the play, (Bob, Teach and Don) is to get rich and to be dominant. They do not care how they reach that goal, they only want it. From the aspect of Don, what is necessary for success in the business is common sense, experience and talent. There is no place for ethics in the corrupt world of business. This is quite clear in the play as the characters are planning to steal the buffalo headed-nickel from a man to whom Don sold it. Also the world of business in American Buffalo is very tough. This toughness is supported by curses and hard expressions. Teach is a good proof as a character. He says: “ I am a business man, I am here, I am here to do business, I am here to face facts. Besides this, as I stated above, they are ready to do everything to reach their goals even through violence like Teach’s beating of Bob and Teach’s words like : “ They treated me like an asshole, they are an asshhole... The only way to teach them is to kill them.”(11) And he says: “ Guys like that I like to fuck their wives.”(28). In addition to this, many honorable things do not have place in this kind of world. Even friendship seems to be excluded from this world. In this concept, Teach thinks that friendship is a nice thing but business is still business. Accordingly, Teach tries to destroy the friendship between Don and Bob who are like father and son image in the play. He wants to break this relationship because of his jealousy and his profit from the business they are planning. If he can not end the friendship, he can not join the robbery and he can not get his profit. As a support for the idea mentioned above, the characters in the play regard the business in America as a free enterprise. Everyboy has right to make a living and fortune by using any possible thing ( like the robbery plan of them ) Teach thinks that America is founded on this idea: “ To Embark on Any Fucking Course that he sees fit... In order to secure his chance to make a profit... The country’s founded on this, Don. You know this.”(73) This reminds us the words of President Calvin Coolidge “ The business of America is business.” So, the world of business in America is like a forest. There is only one law in this rampand capitalism. It is the survival of the fittest. Teach’s following words are a good evidence of this: “ The Whole Entire World. There Is no law. There Is No Right And Wrong. The World Is Lies. There Is No Friendship. Every Fucking Thing. Every God-forsaken Thing.”(103)

Burried Child can be considered as a family play which tells us the corrupt of the family. But the family in the play is not a typical American family, it is an extreme one so, it is wrong to say that it represents the American society. Indeed, it is metaphorical play as I stated before. Buried child is the symbol of innocence, the metaphor of the sins Americans committed in the past and they are trying to hide today. In this concept, we can think that it is the metaphor of the slaves in the history of America. They were innocent like the buried baby in the play. They were taken to America to be exploited. While they were being carried, many of them died and also many of them died in the plantations. They faced brutal racism and they still face even if it is not as harsh as it was in the past. They were innocent but they were killed by the racist Ku Klux Klan. Like blacks, Native Americans came across the same behaviour of white man. They were forced to leave their homelands after white man came to America. Their lands were taken from them and they were picked up to the concentration camps. When they resisted, they were massacred. The most dramatic example of this was trail of tears cause of which was Treaty of New Echota an agreement signed under the provision of Indian Removal Act of 1830. This exile caused the deaths of four thousand of fifteen thousand Cherokees, many of whom were innocent women and children. Another point is the Vietnam War. This meaningless war like all other wars killed nearly millions of people both Americans and Vietnamese. One thing catches our attention here. The avarage of the American soldiers’ ages was 20 and 90% of them was under 23 and they were innocent like Vietnamese civillians who died. In addition to this, using of atom bomb is another example. To force the Japanese to surrender, America used two atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a result of this, more than 100 thousand innocent people died. These bombs caused genetic disorder in people and completely destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What was the reason of all these? Like in American Buffalo, it was capitalism. Blacks were brought to America as a cheap labour. Native Americans were forced to leave their lands because railroads would be built and Americans would have more land and richs would get richer. Vietnam war happened as a resul of the conflict between communism and capitalism. And atom bomb was used because America would have to have spend more many and more soldiers to end the war in Japan and this would damage its economy.

To sum up, as it is stated in the quotation, we see how American playwrights criticize the American society through the plays. In American Buffalo, we see what people can do to achieve their goals in capitalist world of business and there is no place for good things even for friendsihp. Like this, in Buried Child, again we witness the sins Americans committed and still trying to hide and escape from it. But this escape and deny are the reasons of discomfort in the society. As it is shown in the play, everything will be solved when these sins are revealed.

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