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Dead White Males Essay

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Dead White Males Essay

Title: Dead White Males Essay

Author: Annonymous

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Dead White Males Essay Q1. The two opposing ideologies in this play are liberal humanism and post-structuralism. How are they represented? How does the play operate to position the audience to finally prefer one above the other? Dead White Males is a play about a sexually deprived lecturer, Dr Grant Swain, who attempts and almost succeeds in bedding one of his students, Angela Judd, by utilising his position in the university, and by imbuing his views upon his students. Alongside this plot is the conflict between two ideologies, liberal humanism and post-structuralism. Angela, the main character of the play is compelled to make a choice between post-structuralism represented by Dr Swain, and liberal humanism, (Shakespeare), who is constantly opposed and criticised by Swain. By the end of act one it is quite obvious who the villain of this play is. In the opening scene the villain first shows his destructive nature through his unnecessary violence. "ANGELA How is it that you know so much about us? [SHAKESPEARE is just about to answer when a MAN in his thirties, dressed in fashionable casual clothes appears behind him.] MAN He doesn't you know. [The MAN pulls out a pistol and shoots SHAKESPEARE dead. ANGELA looks at the MAN, horrified]" (Pp 1) The man in this scene is of course Dr Grant Swain, and his dramatic entrance encourages us to dislike him, because we feel it is wrong to shoot people for no apparent reason. Swain appears to us the villain, due to his unmistakable character, for, aside from his violent episodes, we find that he is interested in only one thing. Sex. He tries to hit on Angela, but she declines his offer. After Melissa accepts his offer of dinner later on, he quickly and conveniently loses interest in Angela making it obvious that he was concerned with only one thing. Another quality we disfavour him for is his over-confidence. From the beginning of the play, when introducing himself and his course, he is "animated by the intense certainty that he has a supremely important message to communicate and is enormously well equipped to deliver it." Swain endeavours to shoot Shakespeare several times, and although this is only in Angela's imagination, we are positioned to agree with Angela's attitude towards Swain because she is one of the sympathetic characters. The audience sees Angela as one of the "good guys". She is a sympathetic character, and her circumstances as well as her attributes position us to see her as such. Sympathy is evoked for her: 1. Because she seems naive, and readily falls prey to Swain's way of thinking 2. Because she is a victim of the villain 3. She has been deprived of the nurturing her mother should have provided 4. Because she has suffered through her childhood as a result of her parents' "happy marriage" 5. When she is embarrassed in front of Steve Also she defends Col, and takes on the rest of the family. In doing so she becomes a sort of heroine, defending the helpless and upholding the truth, and this positions us to like her character even more. The warring ideologies in this play are represented not only as favourable and unfavourable in this play, but also by certain characters. By establishing who are the "good guys" and who are the "bad guys", the representation of the characters' respective ideologies are also determined. Post-structuralism is without doubt the unfavourable ideology in this play. This is simply because it is expended through the villain of the play. Even though Angela admits that she 'think(s) there is some truth in what he (Swain) says' (Pp 80) the fact that Swain subscribes to post-structuralism still conquers, causing post-structuralism to seem as flimsy as its subscriber does. Even when Angela reprimands Shakespeare for his disgraceful casting of women, liberal humanism still holds its approval above post-structuralism, as Shakespeare asks to be wished back to an era of sanity, implying that Angela's views are insane. Because post-structuralism is the unfavoured ideology, ...

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Keywords: dead white european males, dead white males, dead white man, dead white males meaning

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