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Nationalism Issue and Melodramatic Plea for the Americanism in Fashion

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2014, 27(2), pp.33-62
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jungman Park 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The mid-19th century was one of the most dynamic eras in the US history. The mentioned dynamics is deeply related to the political reality of the time. Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the USA declared the era of ‘common people’ advocating the ‘American Democracy’ as distinguished from the British traditions represented by monarchy, aristocracy, and rigid class structure. The motto ‘strong America,’ the core value of Jackson Democracy, provided the newly emerging nation with justification for establishment of tradition and reaffirmation of American Creed, which had been called for since the independence from British rule. The dynamic movement of the American Society crossed over with an important moment of history in American literature, which is the birth Fashion (1845), a melodrama by a female playwright Anna Cora Mowatt. American ‘comedy of manners,’ this play satirizes the foreign follies prevalent in the contemporary American high society, and criticizes poignantly but pleasantly the anachronistic attitude of the haves who are addicted to the European ‘aristocratic’ culture and fashion while ignoring the American domestic virtues such as honesty, ordinariness, frugality, independence, and democracy. Fashion not only has its own value of literature but also historio-cultural significance as reflecting the social context surrounding the publication of the literary work. This paper examines the mentioned historio-cultural significance of the play as literary mirror to and outcome of the reality, in terms of Jackson Democracy in the 1840s and subsequent contemporary call for American domestic virtues and national identity as opposing to the European counterparts.

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