The Dutchman is not a play that you would take a child to. There is no optimism, no hope of a better future, and certainly no hero. It did, however, point out several flaws in society, namely the white man’s oppression black men. The entire conversation between Lula and Clay demonstrates that, even as society had become more aware of the social inequalities imposed on minorities, much of society still regarded minorities with utter contempt. It did not come as a surprise that the stereotypes that both white and black individuals were present in the play despite heightened public awareness at the time. Such stereotypes are evidenced by Lula saying, “. . .you’re a well-known type . . . I know the type very well,” and Clay responding, “Without knowing us specifically?” (12). Stereotypes are the first walls to break through when associating with a member of another race or culture. Lula’s continual concentration on Clay’s “Uncle Tom” stereotype seems to be not simply her own ignorance, but it symbolizes the entire white people’s ignorance of black people before and during the early ’60’s.
At the end of the play, some of the root causes of most oppression–from forcing Native Americans on reservations to the lack of social equality at the time the book was written–is pointed out: tyranny of the majority and lack of sympathy for the oppressed. When Lula tells the people who are riding on the subway to “Get this man off me!,” “Open the door and throw his body out,” and “all of you get off at the next stop” (37), the crowd of people obeys without hesitance. The people in the subway–the majority–allow one man to be murdered and do not even give it a second thought. This is yet another metaphor for white people turning a blind eye to human suffering. Everyone gets off the subway, acting as if nothing has happened. The fact that the other
Common Themes in Les Blancs and The Dutchman Les Blancs Dutchman
Common Themes in Les Blancs and The Dutchman There is little difference between colonialism and racism. The difference is only a matter of semantics. While colonialism is oppressing another group not in one’s own country, racism is oppressing another group in one’s own country. The Dutchman gives the audience two characters who were ignorant of each other. Lula has certain stereotypes of Clay’s race, like the idea of barbed wire, just as Les Blancs gives the audience Charlie, who has stereotypes of Tshembe, like the many wives misconception. Themes in racism and colonialism, just like some of the themes in The Dutchman and Les Blancs, are ignorance of others, betraying one’s own people, and how far one goes to tolerate what one believes to be the immoral behavior of another. Les Blancs takes one theme of The Dutchman, that of accepting one’s race, and puts an interesting twist on it. Tshembe is not totally convinced that the rebellion is the correct thing until he finds out what his father did. Unlike Clay, Tshembe continues somewhat in the footsteps of his father. The idea of “father” is not only meant in the literal sense but in the figurative as well. It is meant as an embodiment of the African race itself. By joining the rebellion, Tshembe sides with his own race once and for all, and does what his ancestors, and most of the African race, would want. Unlike in The Dutchman, however, Les Blancs gives us more of a tragic villain. While we have little or no evidence to show that Lula was anything more than a cold-blooded murderer, Abioseh is more of a tragic villain, who is so misguided by his newfound Catholic ideals that he betrays his own race and, more importantly, his own brother. He allows himself to let his ideology blind him to the facts of what is going on in his country. Les Blancs and The Dutchman, then, share many similar themes but look at some of them in different ways.