Attitudes towards women, and their role in American Musical Theatre.

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Attitudes towards women, and their role in American Musical Theatre.

For my essay, I am going to look at the attitudes towards women, both from men and other women, and the significant role that that women had in telling the stories in American musical theatre.

Showboat was the first musical of its kind. Up to this point, musicals consisted of songs and dances, with often feeble storylines based around the big stars. Showboat had a real story, adapted from a novel, and both the singing and dancing told the story.

At the beginning of Showboat, after we have been introduced to the main characters, we hear the main female characters attitude towards men and love.

'Fish got to swim, birds got to fly,

I got to love one man
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The musical starts with a woman singing 'Summertime,' to lull her baby to sleep. When this fails, her husband has a try. He sings 'A woman is a sometime thing', this song shows the attitude of the men towards their women in the community, that they are less respected than men.

Bess is clearly outside the close-knit Catfish Row community. She is a bar girl and drug addict, who is in total contrast to the stereotypical, hard-working, religious women of Catfish Row. Crown
(Bess' partner) kills a gambling partner and leaves Bess in Catfish
Row while he runs away from the police. Porgy and Bess become a couple, and we see Bess changing. She starts to dress like the women of Catfish Row and gives money to help bury Clara's husband (who Crown killed). The women's attitude towards her changes and they stop seeing her as a tart and start looking at her as a friend.

Bess doesn't have a theme of her own, instead adopting part of the theme of whoever she's with.

The loneliness theme that she 'absorbs' is used by Gershwin to show that Bess' love can take away Porgy's loneliness. Later this theme
'adoption' is used to link Bess with Sportin' life. We are also shown
Bess' dependence on other people as she doesn't sing a song on her own. By using Porgy's range of a perfect fifth (used throughout the musical to show community and togetherness) she shows that she is starting to fit in. Then her past catches
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