Finding Religion in Unexpected Places: Madea’s Family Reunion
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In the stage play Madea’s Family Reunion, Tyler Perry stars as the lead actor, Mabel Simmons (Madea). Madea, the matriarch of the family, is charged with hosting her family for a funeral, a wedding, and a family reunion all in one weekend. The quick-to-speak Madea has to defend, teach, preach to, and admonish her family while dealing with each drama that presents itself.
This play begins and ends with religious expression as a forte. One of the first lines comes from Mr. Brown, who says “everybody ain’t saved and we can’t expect them to act like us.” This introduction is followed by Madea’s rant about her recently deceased sister by saying “I hope she’s on a slow fall to hell!” Although joking, Madea continues throughout the entire play with a mordant stance on religious idea.
Madea seems to have three foils in this play: Vickie (Madea’s daughter), Mr. Brown (Madea’s neighbor), and Reverend Lewis (the family’s reverend). Vickie cites 2 Thessalonians 3 & 10, if a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat, as she is rebuking Jackie (Madea’s niece) about her husband not working. Mr. Brown later quotes Old Testament writing, Proverbs 13:24, by stating that parents who spare the rod hate their children.
Ironically, Madea portrays a vast knowledge of scripture, such as her detailed description of the book of Revelation as she is describing Mr. Brown as a fictitious beast with no neck. Madea also tells the Reverend that he needs the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6) when he comes to her house insinuating that the armor is an aesthetic thing that could be worn. Madea’s knowledge of scripture does not change the fact that she flees from almost every situation of religiosity, and even makes light of, and even abuses, religious rhetoric on every ...
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...rsevere in the beliefs they already hold” (2006, p. 237) concerning praying to God. The songs used in this play are religious rhetoric because they are arguments in song that make requests of God, comfort the worshipper, and describe God’s goodness and power.
With an apparent secular nature, this play, which is also a feature film, has a large amount of religious rhetoric that is encompassed in humor, rebuke, remorse, and in song. This play is captivating to audiences because of its unique ability to relate religion to everyday struggles in a relevant and “easy-to-read” format.
Pernot, L. (2006). The rhetoric of religion. Rhetorica, 24(3), 235-254. Retrieved from https://crab.rutgers.edu/~wfitz/pernot.pdf
Perry, T. (Producer), & Brewster, C. (Director). (2002). Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion [Stage play]. United States: My TY.PE. Productions.