Theater as an Agent of Social Change, "A Raisin in the Sun"

Essay by SatRatCollege, UndergraduateB+, April 2009

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It is important to read Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" in the contexts of "Lorraine Hansberry's Les Blancs and the American Civil Rights Movement" by Joy L. Abell in the African American Review. Abell provides background on Lorraine Hansberry that gives the reader a better understanding of her position on civil rights and how she believed as a writer she could help to bring about social change. "A Raisin in the Sun" was written and produced during the early stages of the American Civil Rights Movement and Lorraine Hansberry was not only involved with the movement but was passionate about the cause as well. Abell believed critical discussions of a text's meaning sometimes take into consideration authorial intent as well as the historical context in which the text was produced. Reading Abell's piece in the African American Review provides the audience with an insight into Hansberry's political motivation and elevates the play to something more than simple entertainment.

Lorraine Hansberry's play, "A Raisin in the Sun", speaks to the difficulties the African Americans were still suffering almost a hundred years after emancipation; low income jobs, inadequate housing, segregation, and discrimination. She uses this setting to establish inequality, the primary argument of the American Civil Rights Movement, and uses the characters within the play as examples of determination and hope. She describes her characters with purpose so as to give dignity to them and illustrate that situation is not a reason to surrender your pride. You see this demonstrated in the description of Lena Younger, the matriarch of the family, "She is a woman in her early sixties, full bodied and strong. She is one of those women of a certain grace and beauty; who wear it so unobtrusively that it takes a...