He and She


He and She is a play written by Rachel Crothers in 1920, who wrote a majority of her plays during amidst the first wave of feminism. It specifically tackles topics concerning masculinity and femininity, such as gender roles within a marriage and what it means to be a female artist in a patriarchal atmosphere. The play was first introduced in 1911, but failed to survive through production. Thankfully, she did not then abandon the project. In 1920, there was another attempt to resurrect the play's production with Rachel herself playing the female lead, though it too was ultimately unsuccessful (Shafer 20). Finally, after over half a century, He and She was revived by the Washington Area Feminist Theatre in 1973 (Grottlieb 14). In accordance with the opinion of many dramaturgical scholars, it is “Crothers’ most complex and pessimistic exploration of feminism's impact on society” (Grottlieb 50). The play features a married couple, Anne and Tom Herford, who are both sculptors. In the beginning, both characters encompass the progressive ideals for which Crothers advocated. However, when Anne wins in a competition over Tom, she is met with hostility and negativity from almost every other character (Crothers 90-98). Despite showing initial support, Tom becomes increasingly agitated and says to Ann that because she is a woman, “you’re not free in the same way that I am” and that if she refuses to stop and take responsibility of their home, Tom will command her to do so (Crothers 98). The argument is put to rest abruptly when their underage daughter announces that she is engaged and Anne makes the choice, albeit reluctantly, to care for her. Because it lacks a sense of poetic justice and the woman does not ultimately succeed, Crothers was heavily criticized for this play's ending. However, it sparked debate and discussion about what it means to be a woman or a wife.
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