FSW The Zoo Story and Alienation in American Society Essay

Essay Guidelines: Social Commentary on Drama

Social Commentary on Drama

Essay Guidelines

Objective: Write a 500- 750 word social commentary essay in MLA format (remember to use the appropriate headings and margins) about one of the dramas covered in the previous module (“Glaspell’s “Trifles” or Albee’s “The Zoo Story”). Include 5 paragraphs and underline your thesis.

Topic One:

Social Commentary on Alienation in American Society

Albee’s “The Zoo Story” was a critical success from its first performance; theater critic, Martin Esslin, has cited the play’s attack on “the very foundations of American optimism” in the Jerry/Peter interaction which, ultimately, ends with Jerry’s death. If this play is, indeed, an exploration of isolation in America, how does it connect this social commentary to class and status?

In your essay, take the characters of Jerry and Peter and explain how their meeting at the zoo illustrates the conflicts between classes in America. Make certain you have a thesis that explains how the two characters cannot find common ground and, eventually, end up in a violent confrontation. Use dialog from the play to support your points.

Topic Two:

Social Commentary on Failure of Communication between the Classes

Albee’s play, “The Zoo Story” is fundamentally about the failure of communication between two men who meet on a bench in the zoo. In your essay, take the two characters and explain points of communication in the play, and how they fail to connect.

Some areas you might bring into the essay are their relationship status (Peter is married; Jerry has a string of failed relationships), their economic disparity (they have very different financial status), and their social status. You should also explain how the failure of communication can lead to violence and, even, death. What does the ending state about need to connect through language?

Topic Three:

Social Commentary on Small-Town America Division between Men and Women

In Susan Glaspell’s play, “Trifles,” she sets the plot around a murder mystery that she covered as a journalist in Iowa in which a wife killed her husband. In her dramatic version, several members of the community (including the sheriff) enter Minnie’s house to investigate her husband’s death. The men question Minnie, but the women realize that Minnie killed her husband—and they conceal the evidence.

In your essay, take the focus of a male and female character in relation to Minnie. How does their approach to knowing the “truth” differs depending on their gender? Is their reaction to the husband’s possible abuse also defined by their gender? What is the ultimate message about small-town American lives? Do men and women inhabit separate worlds?

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