Aborted Confidence: An Analysis of Acting and Role-Playing in Revolutionary Road

Aborted Confidence: An Analysis of Acting and Role-Playing in Revolutionary Road

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Confidence takes people down the right road, a road they will not want to escape, a road that is not petrified or petrifying, and a road with a positive reflection of life. Revolutionary Road, a fiction novel by Richard Yates, is a skillfully written tragedy based upon a society in Western Connecticut where life appears quite dull on Revolutionary Road. The Wheeler and Campbell families all include members who lack confidence, a characteristic having been aborted at an early age or during tough situations. The absence of confidence and self-esteem causes these individuals to play roles and alter their character in order to obtain a sense of happiness and courage to remain on Revolutionary Road until the day they stare into the picture window and realize the person staring back is a lie.
Frank Wheeler from a young age lacks confidence due to how he is treated by his parents and as a result he pretends to play roles throughout his life. Frank always viewed his father, Earl Wheeler as the definition of a strong man, from his briefcase, to his woodworking tools and shotgun, but lacked the confidence to think he could actually become a tough manly figure too. He feels humiliated by his father on numerous accounts; therefore, Frank equates himself as a failure compared to his father. (SP 1A) He has been yelled at by his father when he tries to use his woodworking shop tools only to ruin them. Frank is jealous that his father has accomplished so much in his life and is good at things from the source of his sturdy, masculine hands. But, Frank continues to emulate his father’s virile image by playing with his briefcase. Hoping to become more masculine, “he would saunter manfully up to it and pretend it was his own” (Yates 37). Eventually, ...

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...s courageous, and then what the hell did you have?” (349).
Reality is petrifying, scary, and it is not something any character wants to face in Revolutionary Road. These characters—Frank, April, and Shep—choose to turn their backs on reality and live in a fantasy world where they act and role play. (SP 7) The only role Frank and April never take on and perfect are the role of themselves, but Shep does. Shep gains confidence, self-respect, and love for himself and revolutionizes his road to reality unlike Frank and April. Frank always said, “If old reality ever does pop out and say Boo we’ll all get busy and pretend it never happened” (69). Frank and April never revolutionize their lives for the better and the road becomes a dead end figuratively and literally.

Works Cited

Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road. 3rd ed. New York: Random House, Inc, 2008.

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