Theme Of Intimate Apparel

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Set in the early 20th century, Intimate Apparel explores the depths of the life of a seamstress named Esther and her interactions with those around her. Esther’s life is full of several societal struggles that shape her different endeavors with life and provide many obstacles. Those around her belittle her professional dreams because of her social status, and the set gender roles of the time also obstruct two other characters in the play, Mayme and Ms. Van Buren. The characters of Esther, Mayme and Ms. Van Buren all showcase the existence of feminist criticism in the play. Esther is introduced to the reader via a conversation that she has with Mrs. Dickson, an African American woman in her fifties. Esther’s low self-confidence is evident…show more content…
Esther looks at the lives that Mrs. Van Buren and Mayme lives, admiring their beauty and ability to express their sexualities, but fails to realize that these women have struggles of their own under the surface. Intimate Apparel dynamically displays the lives of three extremely different women, who are all linked together by their similar feminine battles with society. Esther’s poor self-confidence is a direct result of society’s predetermined idea of beauty and she feels as if she does not fit the mold. She worked for a majority of her life in order to pursue her dream, only to have this dream insulted by her belittling husband. Her husband also takes this dream away from her; by ripping her quilt full of money that she filled to fund her beauty shop, George metaphorically “rips” Esther’s dream and leaves her to clean of the mess that he’s made, resulting in Esther having to start from scratch to built her dream again. Mrs. Van Buren and her infertility are insulted by her husband, who is displeased that his wife cannot fulfill the one main role that a woman is expected to have in this time period: a mother. The fact that she is locked into her relationship due to financially reasons shows the struggles for women to support themselves without help from a man. Mayme isn’t belittled by a single man but rather is belittled by society; her physical attributes make it almost impossible for her to achieve her dreams and force her to settle into a job that helps her provide for herself. The piece reveals the patriarchal society of the time period and also relates this patriarchy to race and class, to reveal even deeper struggles. Of the three women, Esther presents the most noteworthy battle with society; her financial independence, her supporting of a man, and her ability to recreate her dream after it was destroyed by a man all the display the empowerment of

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