Dutchman – Thematic Analysis Paper

Published: 2021-07-13 20:40:07
essay essay

Category: Culture, Amiri Baraka

Type of paper: Essay

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Hey! We can write a custom essay for you.

All possible types of assignments. Written by academics

GET MY ESSAY
Williams, Jae`da June 19, 2012 ENC 1102 Dutchman Thematic Analysis The phrase “racial tension” is a small description of the main theme in Dutchman by Amiri Baraka. While race is a vital part of the underlying messages in the play, it stems to a much broader term. In Dutchman Amiri Baraka attempts to grasp the attention of the African American society. Baraka uses Clay’s character to show readers that complete assimilation into another culture is wrong. He wants to awaken the African American men and women in a predominately Caucasian American culture to subconsciously kill the person that is portrayed by Clay in the play.
Not only does Baraka want readers and audience members to kill their inner Clay, but refuse to conform to what is known as the “Average African American man /woman”. The post-thought process that takes place after reading or seeing the play is what triggers the desire to re-evaluate oneself in who they are and how they are portrayed in society. In the article Dutchman Reconsidered by Thaddeus Martin, it is said that Lula’s whimsical and formless personality is Baraka’s way of saying that the freedom of whites is boundless, and Clays “Puritanical and Victorian” ways shows how blacks are condemned to suffer the furies of that freedom. Martin 62) For example Clay and Lula’s dialogue in scene one: “Clay: Wow. All these people, so suddenly. They must all come from the same place. Lula:Right. That they do. Clay: Oh? You know about them too? Lula: Oh yeah. About them more than I know about you. Do they frighten you? Clay: Frighten me? Why should they frighten me? Lula: ‘Cause you’re an escaped nigger. Clay: Yeah? Lula: ‘Cause you crawled through the wire and made tracks to my side? Clay: Wire? Lula: Don’t they have wire around plantations? Clay: You must be Jewish. All you can think about is wire.
Plantations didn’t have any wire. Plantations were big open whitewashed places like heaven, and everybody on ‘em was grooved to be there. Just strummin’ and hummin’ all day. Lula: Yes, yes. ” (Baraka 2754) Lula refers to Clay as an escaped nigger because he crawled through the wire and made tracks to her side. Lula’s reason for saying such a statement shows the common assumption that all black people admire white style. With Clay giving such an apathetic response to Lula’s comment, it is an example of the suggested submissiveness to white authority from an African American.



This kind of behavior from Clay is used as a reminder to African Americans to idolize the thoughts and ideas of Caucasians. (Martin 62) There is a power struggle between black and white in Dutchman. When Clay was the more dominant character as an African American man he had a sense of confidence and assurance about himself, but once he is killed, his character is seen as the person you don’t want to be. Baraka’s idea is that if you take on the ways of Clay eventually you will end up someone you’re not, losing your true self.
On the contrary when Lula was the more dominant person she had a sense of esteem that overpowered Clays. Her overpowering attitude is to symbolize the dominating cultural presence white people have over blacks. Even with all of the sarcastic comments Clay made as comebacks to Lula, her ingenious way of insulting him still left her with the upper hand. Clays laid back attitude toward Lula is admirable, almost as if he looks up to her wanting to be her. Clay’s admiration for Lula did not begin when she stepped on the train but originated in his upbringing.
His yearning to fit into the white culture that seemed to be much better off than he was is what established his appreciation for the white society. (Kumar 277-278) At first he tolerates her comments and attempts to take them lightheartedly, because he has hopes at being intimate with Lula. Willing to listen to a white woman strip him of his pride and manhood just for a night of pleasure, Clay is submitting to the dominant character of Lula. In scene two Lula’s insulting comments progress: “Lula: Uhh! Uhh! Clay! Clay! You middle-class black bastard.
Forget your social-working mother for a few seconds and let’s knock stomachs. Clay, you liver-lipped white man. You would-be Christian. You ain’t no nigger, you’re just a dirty white man. Get up. Clay. Dance, with me, Clay. Clay: Lula! Sit down, now. Be cool. ” Even through Lula insulted him and spoke badly about his mother clay still responded in an apprehensive way. Lula’s aggressiveness in her speech angers Clay to the point where he curses at her, that is after she calls him an Uncle Tom Wooly Head. (Martin 62)(Kumar 276) At the end of scene one Lula says “You’re a murderer, Clay, and you know it. (Baraka 2751)This quote could be thought of as a subliminal way of saying that Clay killed the black man inside of him. All throughout the first scene Lula has the more aggressive and dominant role, but in scene two Clay takes on the more authoritative role, while Lula ends up being the actual murderer at the end of the play. Lula’s plot to kill Clay is in some way foreshadowed when the other passengers board the train and she says “we’ll pretend that people cannot see you”. (Baraka 2751) Clay tries to defend himself all throughout the play but doesn’t succeed because he can’t defend something that he is not.
While Lula is insulting the stereotypes and behavior of black men, Clay cannot fully defend them because he himself isn’t truly “black”. (Klinkowitz 123-124) Baraka used a sense of satire because instead of directly inputting his opinion about Clay he played off of Lula’s character, which provoked Clay to portray through his actions the person readers don’t want to be. This kind of approach causes readers to think about whom they are and their role in society. Dutchman raises the attention of readers black or white and makes each think of who they really are.
Even through the personalities of each character, any reader can apply themselves to the situation. With America becoming so diverse in the last decades assimilating ourselves into different cultures has become almost second nature, so adapting to other cultures has not caused us to loose who we really are but to accustom ourselves to change. Baraka didn’t want readers to internally kill the person they were inside, but to do away with the person that they weren’t. Complete and total assimilation into another culture is what Clay did to himself and is what Baraka wants Blacks to not do.
Instead, he wants Blacks to never forget who they are, but to not be so narrow minded that they are blind to the world around them. Jae`da WilliamsAnnotated Bibilography Galens, David M. Dutchman-Amiri,Baraka. Drama For Students. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 141-59. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Cengage Learning. Web. 31 May 2012. Electronic Book. Drama for Students gives readers different outlooks on a variety of texts. The approach taken to analyze the piece Dutchman is unique, because instead of offering one theme there are multiple.
This allows readers to take it upon themselves to decide what they think about the play. By providing plot summaries it allows readers to take what they thought about the text and apply it to a more condensed version. Drama for Students would work best in a classroom, considering it’s written for students. Since it is written in a form for students to learn and comprehend, it would be no challenge to grasp the concepts presented. This non-complex approach to the play will help the clearness of my research. The direct approach should help anyone who uses this resource.
Understanding the background of the play is not difficult, because of the short author biography provided. This makes the Dutchman than just a piece of literature, but rather a piece of the author. Piggford, George. "Looking into Black Skulls : American Gothic, the Revolutionary Theatre, and Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman. " American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative. Iowa: University of Iowa, 1998. 143-59. EBSCO Host. Web. 30 June 2012. Electronic Book. Piggfords approach in comparing Dutchman to African-American Gothic literature is different from the other resources that I have come across.
The social and political events that were taking place while the play was written have a lot to do with Piggfords ideas on the underlying issues Baraka implemented into the play. It is aid that Dutchman marked the end of a certain type of theater, the kind that uses social structures as the gateway to examining the black psyche. This book is very helpful because it not only addresses the things that are usually looked for in a piece of work such as theme, characters motivation, outside influences and the authors influence.
The title and the way the text makes others feel is a part of the meaning of the play in its entirety. Martin, Thaddeus. "Dutchman Reconsidered. " Black American Literature Forum 2nd ser. 11 (1977). Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article. In this review Martin gives an analysis of the characters in Dutchman, mainly Clay and Lula. By using quotes from the text, his ideas about the play seem to have a great amount of relevance and validity. Although the article is short it brings much insight to my research because of its strong argument.
It presents an idea, and then runs with it. Martin doesn't waver in what he believes is the message that is in Dutchman. Even though his ideas are similar to other journal reviews, Martin includes more of his opinion rather than relying on past events and political issues that were that were prominent in that time. It's almost as if Martin is taking into consideration the feelings of the characters of this play. He relates the feelings of average Americans to the characters of the play; this gives a more personal feel to the research. Kumar, Nita. The Logic of Retribution: Amiri Baraka's "Dutchman"" African American Review 37. 2/3 (2003): 271-79. JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article. Nita Kumar's response to the Dutchman is very useful in my research because its examples are from other reviews of the work. This type of literary construction gives Kumar’s work more versatility. It is able to suit different opinions without insulting anyone’s views. In Dutchman, the use of language plays an important role, and Kumar recognizes that. Examining the language used and how it helps the characters feed off of one another is important.
This will help anyone who reads the review grasp an understanding on why some things were said and exactly what they mean. Putting her ideas into categories, Kumar’s' review is very well organized which makes it beneficial to my research. The organization of the article makes it a lot easier for readers to follow along and allow time for things to process, which is why it is so ideal for research. Klinkowitz, Jerome. "LeRoi Jones: Dutchman as Drama. " Negro American Literature Forum 7. 4 (1973): 123-26. JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article.
This text offers a great layout of information. Klinkowitz takes pages of text in the play and evaluates it, instead of the entire play as a whole. This approach literally breaks down the quotes and thoughts of the characters. This piece even analyzes the position that LeRoi Jones was in when he wrote the Dutchman. Not only does he break down the pages of the script, but still does not fail to incorporate other writers ideas and opinions in his work, Instead of taking away from the point that Klinkowitz is trying to make, the examples make his writing more relatable and personal.
The continual flow of criticism allows for the author to be very static in his opinions. Just as a teacher would teach their students a lesson, allowing room for opinions and ideas, Klinkowitz allows readers to input their own thoughts and ideas on the play. Works Cited Galens, David M. Dutchman-Amiri,Baraka. Drama For Students. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 141-59. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Cengage Learning. Web. 31 May 2012. Electronic Book. Piggford, George. "Looking into Black Skulls : American Gothic, the Revolutionary Theatre, and Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman.  American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative. Iowa: University of Iowa, 1998. 143-59. EBSCO Host. Web. 30 June 2012. Electronic Book. Martin, Thaddeus. "Dutchman Reconsidered. " Black American Literature Forum 2nd ser. 11 (1977). Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article. Kumar, Nita. "The Logic of Retribution: Amiri Baraka's "Dutchman"" African American Review 37. 2/3 (2003): 271-79. JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article. Klinkowitz, Jerome. "LeRoi Jones: Dutchman as Drama. " Negro American Literature Forum 7. 4 (1973): 123-26. JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article.

Warning! This essay is not original. Get 100% unique essay within 45 seconds!

GET UNIQUE ESSAY

We can write your paper just for 11.99$

i want to copy...

This essay has been submitted by a student and contain not unique content

People also read