When Sorrows Come: Death in the Contemporary American Drama
Goldberg, Becky Leigh
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This paper is a study of Contemporary American Family Drama of the past ten years. In looking at Proof by David Auburn, Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire, August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, and Next to Normal by Brian Yorkey (music by Tom Kitt), and holding them in reference to Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, this paper explores the death that occurs before the action in each play, and how the women of the plays cope with the loss. This paper argues that the contemporary women, unlike their literary ancestor Mary Tyrone, have the means to handle their situations and experience the anagnorisis or self-discovery that will open up the path to healing. Unlike Mary, these women realize that hiding behind vise and idealism does nothing but prevent them from escaping the endless grief that comes with losing a loved one. This paper first explores the history of death in drama, with regard to the audience's interaction with the material, then moves on to discuss both the daughters of the dead parents and the mothers of the dead children.