A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
ENG102- Literature and Composition Essay Questions for Drama Essay PLEASE CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS AND WRITE A 750-1,000 word essay in response: 1) Lorraine Hansberry prefaces her play with a poem by Langston Hughes called “A Dream Deferred”. After discussing the images in the poem and it’s meaning, write an essay in which you show how the play illustrates the theme of the poem by taking ONE character in the play and analyzing what his or her dream was, how or why it was deferred, and what has happened by the end. Also, discuss the ways in which the concept of the “dream” is central to the play. Things to consider: Which characters specifically discuss their dreams? Do dreams ever become destructive, a substitute for action? Is it absolutely essential to keep a dream alive? . 2) Through most of the play, Walter is shown in a state of arrested development, meaning he is still very much like a teenager or even a child. He blames Ruth and Mama for not trusting his judgment to run the family like “a man” like his father was. Drawing on what we have learned about African-American masculinity and what it means to be a man in this play, write an essay in which you analyze Walter’s path through the play in terms of masculinity, manhood and maturity. .
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3) Asagai sees “what the New World hath finally wrought” in Beneatha, but Beneatha, with a darker vision, sees it in Walter. In what ways are they both right? Using what we have learned about the statistics and conditions of African America at the time of the play, write an essay in which you discuss how American society, with its strengths and weaknesses, has shaped both Beneatha and Walter? . 4) Within the Younger household, there are three generations of women, all having a very different experience with what it means to be a black woman in their time and in their phase in life. Using what we have learned about feminism and the women’s movements, compare and contrast the dreams, struggles AND character development of Mama, Ruth and Beneatha. . 5) Critical reception to A Raisin in the Sun was not all positive when the play first came out. One of the major points of contention was that the play was pro-integration. Some segments of the African-American community felt that integration actually was not the end-all answer to America’s race problem. Using what we have learned from the presentations about the first Broadway production, discuss the ways in which the idea of integration is presented throughout the play. Is Hansberry’s presentation one- sided, or does she raise issues relevant to both viewpoints? . 6) Come up with a thesis of your own in which you defend an idea about one of the following topics as related to the play: Possible Topics: • Epiphanies/Awakenings • African American Identity during the 50’s and 60’s • Midwestern Working Class Identity • Feminine Identity during the African American Civil Rights Struggle • Masculine Identity during the African American Civil Rights Struggle • Materialism • Matriarchy vs. Patriarchy • Afrocentricism vs. Assimilation • Protagonist vs. Antagonist • The Play from a Psychoanalytical Perspective • The Role of a key symbol or group of symbols (i.e. the check, the plant, light, Prometheus, the apartment),