#kaitreadsforcomps Mini Reviews #4-5: Shifts in Drama and Feelings of Instability: the Beginning of the Cold War Fear


#kaitreadsforcomps #4: Shifts in Drama

This reflection will discuss several plays of the 40s-60s:

  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, 1949
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, 1955
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee, 1962
  • Deliverance by James Dickey, 1970

To be honest, I didn’t actually enjoy a single one of these plays. I can see how they were working to change the way that the average theatre patron thought of drama by discussing topics often left out of polite conversation, but at the same time as a resident of the 21st Century, I have a hard time appreciating it. For me, the ideas of families falling apart and the clash between “civilized” and “barbaric” cultures (shown through rape, no less) aren’t really dynamic, new, or interesting. I see enough of this in reality. Outside of their importance in terms of a shift from propriety to a more open discussion (which I admit is very important), I see no reason to ever read or watch these again. That’s all I have to say about that.


#kaitreadsforcomps #5: Feelings of Instability

This reflection will discuss four texts:

  • “The Morning of the Day They Did It” by E.B. White (1950)
  • Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron (1951)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill (1956)

Really, this list could be broken down futher into realistic instability (Styron and O’Neill) and early dystopian instability (White and Bradbury), but I’m keeping them together because I think they’re participating in the same conversation.

“The Morning of the Day They Did It” by E.B. White is one of the texts on my list that I had read many times before. I love it. It’s a super short story, so you all should check it out. It was published in The New Yorker in 1950 and is honestly pretty prophetic. White discusses both the dangers of nuclear war and the problems of genetic modification in this short fiction. While I’m sure it’s not the absolute earliest piece of dystopian environmental fiction, it’s certainly up there. This text certainly indicates that there were feelings of instability about the environment and the dangers of war earlier than I had imagined.

Of course, everyone is well aware of the 1953 great, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Again, we find the fear of instability expressed this time concerning the dangers of censorship and illiteracy as well as the loss of knowledge of the humanities. Perhaps all the people in our political administration should consider this as they cut the funding to all humanities grants—or perhaps they already have.

Lie Down in Darkness and Long Days Journey Into Night are like the connection between these dystopian texts and the plays mentioned above. Here we are discussing the taboo, but it is not simply for the sake of discussing it, but out of an acknowledgement of the culture of fear.

I think that all in all, what we see here in both of these sections is the beginning of the Cold War narrative of fear. The downfall of the family, the suspicion of knowledge contrasted with the necessity for it, the general degradation of culture—Cold War culture.