The Road to Escape: An Analysis of Acting and Role Playing

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Acting is the performing of a position or the role of a character for a temporary amount of time. Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road, a tragic novel, challenges the preconceived notion that the 1950’s was a cheerful time where everyone had the perfect lifestyle in the Suburbs by introducing his readers to three distinct characters who are anything but pleased with their life. Yates proposes the idea of escape as a common thread in society of which everyone dreams, but no one can capture. Due to their desire to escape reality, April, Frank, and Helen turn to acting and role playing to change their personalities through hiding flaws, putting on a happy façade, and playing house. Throughout his life, Frank struggles to find his place causing him to take on the role of a strong, attractive, masculine man, thereby hiding his weak side. With the help of mirrors, Frank is able to adjust his face through “tightening his jaw and turning his head a little to one side to give a…commanding look” (Yates 16). By doing this, he gives off a more masculine vibe. Often he chooses to do this when he is around April so she notices that Frank is a real man. Through physical strength, Frank is also able to prove his masculinity. During a fight between Frank and April on Route 12, Frank swings “out one trembling fist…and brought the fist down on the roof of the car” to not only prove his strength to April but to all the cars passing by (Yates 29). Frank tends to be blinded by his insecurity of unmanliness and as a result makes bad decisions. April gets pregnant twice and knows that she is not responsible enough to take care of them, nor does she want them. April turns to the idea of an abortion, but Frank finds out and immediately talks her out of it b... ... middle of paper ... ...and impulsive” and buys a puppy (Yates 352). Since the Wheelers and John disappointed her, the dog presents her with a new, demanding maternal role. Several times Helen positions herself to be a motherly figure, however disappointment and rejection causes her to jump from person to person to satisfy her needs. Revolutionary Road explores the unattainable idea of escape. April, Frank, and Helen, struggle with escaping from reality and use role playing and acting as an outlet. However, nothing goes the way they want and become stuck with an even more miserable life than what they started with. Yate’s novel proves that during the fifties, people were not susceptible to escaping suburban life either because they were happy with how their life is or they were afraid of the unknown. Works Cited Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road. New York: Random House,1961. Print.

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