Stereotypes & Ignorance of the Arsenic and Old Lace

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“Looks can be deceiving” is a statement that should be considered seriously because there is much truth behind the wise saying. United States as a society has been culturalized into forming certain types of stereotypes due to media, beliefs, peers and much more that walks a fine line between courteously and ignorance. The play Arsenic and Old Lace written by Joseph Kesselring highlights how much society can overlook things due to stereotypes which results in a ridiculous situation with high levels of ignorance. Perception of age, looks, sarcasm, and gender is emphasized in this play and society today, which lead to numerous murders that should have otherwise been put to an end if the situation was evaluated objectively.

Stereotypes are one of the most reoccurring themes in the Arsenic and Old Lace, which is also the reason why this play is viewed as a comedy. A stereotype is a “set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations about a group that allows others to categorize them and treat them accordingly” (Dictionary). Throughout the whole play the Aunts, Abby and Martha, both have strong stereotypes attached to them due to many characteristics which they have that fool everyone. Attributes such as “old” and “female” project images in society's minds of deceiving thoughts like “friendly,” “nice,” or “harmless” because society is based off concepts of masculinity and femininity. These stereotypes are reinforced in the play because of the friendship the two Aunts have acquired over time with the towns people and authorities.

“You think aunts are sweet charming old ladies, don't you? Well, there are thirteen bodies buried in their cellar” (Arsenic). Jonathan says this to the cops after he openly admitted his criminal record. Although Jonathan made such an accusation about the two aunties, the cops do not believe him and reply with “you'd better be careful what you're saying about your aunts ---- they happen to be friends of ours.” The biased response the cops give...
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