Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The house of dreams or the house of nightmares?

"'Going to the show' for thousands of young people in every industrial city is the only possible road ro the realms of mystery and romance: the theater is the only place where they can satisfy that craving for a conception of life higher than that which the actual world offers them...The theater becomes to them a 'veritable house of dreams' infinitely more real than the noisy streets and the crowded factories," (75-76).

It is obvious that urban life in the 20th century was difficult for adults, it was probably unimaginable for young children who was forced into labor to make ends meet for their families. Sweat shop labor did not allow any room for imagination and play time, so Jane Adams of Hull House thought it disastrous to expose children to the whimsical world of theater and fantasy. She thought that it was like waving a candy bar in front of a diabetic. The children who are exposed to theater and plays start to act out the fantasy world in daily events.

"Is it not astounding that a city allows thousands of its youth to fill their impressionable minds with these absurdities which certainly will become the foundation for their working moral codes and the data from which they will judge the properties of life?...Apparently the blankness and grayness of life itself had been broken for her only by the portrayal of a different world," (79-81).

Children are naturally imaginative so if they do not have an outlet for their creativity it will just come out in other ways, like a little boy pretending to be a pirate and stealing from a chinese laundry man. I don't necessarily think it's better to stifle it and have them never see plays and theater. I feel that they would eventually learn the difference between reality and fantasy, but it is understandable that they would want to resort to fantasy world rather than live in their harsh reality.


At 8:44 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A thoughtful post.

Addams is reacting to the popular theatre of the day. She is not against theatre in general, she is afraid of the kinds of crime-filled popular shows that she describes in her chapter.

Mostly she is concerned that children's imaginations and fantasies are being shaped by these shows and that unrealistic expectations are being created.


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