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Sunday In The Park Analysis

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Themes in Sunday in the Park with George
When looking between the four corners of a rectangular frame there is a piece of art. It is often filled with color, light, angles, and shapes. But what is more important than the mechanics of the painting style, or the ideological perspective it is intended to garner, there is a connection between the painting and the viewer. This connection is lasting, and deeply personal. In the concept musical of Sunday in the Park with George, Stephen Sondheim uses this quite literally. He tells a story about a man named George Seurat. George is a nineteenth century painter, obsessed with his work. And in Act II, he is his great-grandson, also named George, and also an artist. However, these similarities are not what necessarily connect the two. Instead, it is their relationship with the same woman, Dot. She is the glue that eventually unites the two Georges through time. It is this connection which brings together the emotions and hope from the man of one generation, to the man of another. Like a spectator laying eyes on a beautiful painting for the first time, Dot holds the connection between the old and the new, the unrealized and the realized, and between the real and the imagined. These interlocking pathways between the characters are expressed best in the two songs “We Do Not Belong Together”, sung in Act I, and “Move On”, sung in Act II. Together, these songs, as well as others, explore Sondheim’s use of connection, which ties the relationship of people to art, but more importantly, to each other.
We are first introduced to George as he is in the middle of painting his masterpiece, a real life work of art entitled, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. He immediately begins to exp...

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...have to move on.” They both have to, but it will take one hundred years, and three generations, before they have learned enough to come back together.
However, it is interesting to note that in “We Don’t Belong Together” when George sings, “Pretty is what changes. What the eye arranges is what is beautiful”, his belief, and Sondheim's, that art is making order out of chaos, we hear his humming/painting motif in the orchestra. He is explaining his art, and the music underscores this by musically connecting us back to the scene in which he is actually painting. But again, he can only make order out of chaos on the surface. It seems that he can never make order out of the chaos of his and Dot's emotions. We hear the humming motif again as he finishes the painting in the Act I finale, his final interaction with Dot, though she will later interact with the other George.
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