How Anna Cora Mowatt Fashioned Her Fashion

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Ms. Anna Cora Mowatt is an inspiring theatrical and historical figure. She fell in love with the theatre at a young age and exhibited a talent for acting. Moreover, Mowatt’s fame flourished due to her play and literature publications, not just from than from her acting abilities. Anna Cora Ogden was born on March 5, 1819 in Bordeaux, France to American parents. She and her family moved to New York City when she was seven years old. Anna married James Mowatt, a lawyer who was several years her senior, when she was 15 years old. Her poor health led her to move to and live in Europe during the years 1837-1840. Nonetheless, her feeble health did not put an end to her mental strength. Mowatt’s determination led her to pursue an acting career. She debuted in self-written plays such as The Lady of Lyons, Armand, the Child of the People as well as in a few Shakespearean productions. Mowatt published articles in magazines such Godey’s Lady’s Book, as well as wrote biographies, novels such as The Fortune Hunter (1844) and Evelyn (1845) and her most successful play Fashion. She prospered from the revenue her plays earned since they were well received in Europe and America.
Mowatt’s play Fashion opened in 1845 and has been crowned as the best American comedy of the 19th century. This play is also known as Fashion: or, Life in New York. It can be considered a representative play due to Mowatt’s usage of satire to reveal America’s obsession with “highbrow taste and cultural distinction”. The Industrial Revolution formed America into a developing nation which attracted citizens and foreign immigrants to the expanding industrial towns for job opportunities. Competition and trade relations increased between the American and European nations...

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... the etiquette verses virtue, decorum verses purity, and manners verses morals. Mowatt creates the conflict for her plot by demonstrating the struggle between greed for material wealth and the demand for personal integrity.
Anne Cora Mowatt demonstrates the continental manners and the developing American Spirit in her masterpiece Fashion. It is an idea that she may have used her experiences in America as well as Europe in order to formulate the plot and conflict of this play. She lived during the midst of the industrial expansion of both countries. These topics would have been very relevant during the time due to the increase of each country nationalism as well as trade and manufacturing competition. Despite not knowing how Mowatt devised the plot concept for Fashion, the uniqueness and relatable themes and characters still keep this play an American classic.

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