The Depths Of Night Mother By Marsha Norman

1403 words - 6 pages

“‘Night Mother”, by Marsha Norman, is a play that dives into the struggles of a mother and daughter. First performed in 1983, the play became a major success both in Broadway, which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, and was first performed as a play. (Spencer, pg. 1) Jessie is a middle aged woman, who is divorced, moved back in with her mother, and struggles with, what she believes, is a failed life. Thelma, Jessie’s mother, realizes that Jessie wants to commit suicide due to comments that Jessie makes. Thelma tries desperately to convince her daughter out of committing suicide; however, she is unable to convince Jessie. Jessie believes that has not reached the potential that her family ...view middle of the document...

Heavy accents, which could further distance the audience from JESSIE and THELMA are also wrong.” (Norman, pg. 1) As the play begins the mood established is the sense of a mother daughter relationship between Thelma and Jessie. There almost seems to be no understanding of communication between the two characters as Thelma goes on about treats and Jessie goes on about towels, never answering each others’ questions. As the play progresses the mood begins to shift to cautiousness and suspicion as Jessie brings up searching for her father’s gun, only to state that it is for, “Protection.” (Norman, pg. 2) The mood again switches when the audience begins to realize that Jessie wants to commit suicide by Jessie simply stating, “I am going to kill myself, Mama.” (Norman, pg. 3) With Jessie’s simple statement the mood that the audience feels is fear, heart ache for the mother, confusion, and a feeling of the understanding for those in today’s world that struggle with suicide. As Jessie admits that she is going to commit suicide the play has reached its dramatic climax. The problem has been presented and the audience is left in shock as they watch the unfolding conversation between Thelma and Jessie; however, the audience comes to the realization that Jessie will not change her mind and is left with a sense of empathy for her mother.
‘Night Mother became a huge hit on Broadway; therefore, earning two Tony award nominations for Best Actresses and Best Play and giving the 1983 Pultizer Prize, for drama, to Marsha Norman. (Rosefeldt, pg. 2) The audience had mixed emotions about the play some feeling that it touched on real life experiences and others believing it was a harsh play for society. Frank Rich, a reporter for the New York times in 1983, asked, “Does '''Night, Mother'' say no to hope? It's easy to feel that way after reeling from this play's crushing blow. But there can be hope if there is understanding, and it is Marsha Norman's profound achievement that she brings both understanding and dignity to forgotten and tragic American lives.” (Rich, pg. 2) Rich believes that the Norman’s view of suicide is that there is no hope; however, he strongly believes that Norman’s play allowed the American society to grasp the problems that are within suicide and that she displayed both sides of the story in perfect view points of the characters. Jenny S. Spencer, an author for a journal, believed that Norman used her abilities to effect multiple people in the audience. After watching the production Spencer states that the success of the play, “...rests on the peculiar power of the play in performance; it works for audiences, when it does work, on a number of levels -- the naturalistic illusion so carefully maintained that the play, like unmediated experience itself, appears open to multiple interpretation.” (Spencer, pg. 1) Unlike the Broadway show, the 1986 Film production was not a success. As I, personally, watched the film I realized that the director had...

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