Sunday, October 31, 2010

Miss Lulu Bett by Zona Gale (1921)

Summary:  Lulu is basically a slave for her sister and brother-in-law Dwight, who agree to let her stay in their home if she cooks for them, provides childcare and looks after their aging mother.  However, when Dwight's brother Ninian comes to town, he displays an interest in Miss Lulu, whisks her away and marries her immediately.  A few weeks later, Lulu dejectedly returns "home", stating that Ninian  revealed that he had another wife somewhere that may or may not be dead.

Dwight is cruel to Lulu about the situation until Ninian eventually returns, proves his first wife's death and lives happily ever after with Lulu...once again.

Thoughts:  1918's Why Marry (written by a man) contained powerful feminist statements about the roles of women in marriage.  Because it was the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, I wondered if it would set an unexpected (for me) socially progressive tone for subsequent winners.  Miss Lulu Bett (written by a woman) answers the question with a resounding, "No!"  Once Lulu meets Ninian, she is completely dependent upon him for her happiness and salvation from a bad situation, even though her own romantic feelings toward him are never fully explored.  The conflicts of the play are interesting, but the return of Ninian resulting in immediate conclusion is disappointing.

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