Edward Albee is considered by many to be one of the most influential playwrights of the seventeenth century. Albee wrote his plays around the typical themes associated with the American drama. They were not just plays about family life; instead, they frequently focused on family dysfunctions and the underlying motives of family structure. In his works, Albee portrays many of the concepts of the absurdism movement that had begun in Europe after World War II. This movement was a reaction to the many injustices brought along with the war itself. One of the major motifs present is the idea that the playwright possessed little or no concern for traditional play structure and form. A second prominent trait of the absurdism movement is the lack of effective communication between the play’s major characters. Albee’s play, “The American Dream,” is an accurate depiction of the popular trends associated with the movement’s establishment in America. As Albee quotes, “The play is an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in out society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, emasculation and vacuity.”
The first conclusion that Albee makes in reference to “The American Dream” is that it is a portrayal of how artificial values have replaced real values in the American society. This theme is apparent in the study of how the family replaces Grandma with the Young Man. To Albee, Grandma represents the way life used to be, a time when real values and self-worth mattered. Grandma is an overall depiction of how American’s have not learned from their past. Instead, they “talk past it” and ignore its existence. Albee teaches that the past holds the truth to our future when he gives Grandma the ability to reveal the truth for Mrs. Baker’s visit, and the knowledge that the Young Man is the identical twin of the family’s first son. The family’s ignorance of Grandma is obvious in analyzing her comment to Mrs. Baker; “Oh my; that...
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