Gender, Religion, And Class, By Lynn Notagge

1166 Words5 Pages
Lynn Notagge in Intimate Apparel describes the life of Esther, a gifted but lonely black seamstress, who does a wonderful job creating intimate apparel for women, both wealthy socialites, and poor prostitutes. While she is very successful sewing exquisite lingerie for women and being able to stuff a goodly sum of money into her quilt over the years, she yearns a different life. Esther has two dreams: finding a husband (a man’s touch), and owning a beauty salon where both African American women and wealthy white women would be treated equally. By writing this play, Notagge acknowledges that everyone needs some kind of physical contact in order to function properly. The play revolves around people with different gender, race, religion, and…show more content…
Van Buren, the white upper-class lady; Mayme, the prostitute, and Mr. Marks, the Jewish man whom she buys cloth. There is no single antagonist or villain in this play, although there is conflict between Esther and George when she finds out he was an opportunist that only wanted her lifetime savings to waste on gambling and prostitutes.
The play is driven by human emotions. Most characters seem to experience loneliness. While Esther sees the other inhabitants of the boarding house getting married, she remains lonely and desperate, longing for a man to “touch” her, or described differently, to discover what is not immediately visible to the eye: the intimate aspect of herself - her soul, her heart, and her feelings. By the same token, Mrs. Van Buren has a need of physical and emotional touch because she is neglected and abused by her husband. Mayme, the African American prostitute, reveals to Esther while dancing and playing the piano that she is abused by her clients. George, Esther’s future husband, starts writing her letters because he is very lonely, and hopes to get some form of female companionship. The highest evidence of loneliness during the play, was the same-gender kiss between Esther and Mrs. Van Buren. It was a matter of desperation and loneliness combined, rather than love, as Mrs. Van Buren tried to explain.
Racial and social classes issues are clear as the play evolves. The level of intimacy between Esther and Mrs.
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