In last night’s lecture, Professor Dickinson talked about ideals of appearance and behavior that exemplified the Victorian “cult of true womanhood” or “cult of domesticity.” This externally constructed standard, sometimes overtly articulated or subtly implied by religious teachings, public speeches, newspaper stories and the exploding field of marketing and advertisements, held sway over the lives of many upper-class white women (like Mother). As I mentioned in my post about Emma Goldman, there is much resonance between Ragtime and last semester’s A Doll’s House, especially in regards to the characters of Mother and Nora.
For those of you who might not have seen it, here’s a compressed version of last fall’s production of A Doll’s House directed by Ellen Hemphill courtesy of video designer Jim Haverkamp. In the novel and play of Ragtime, it is implied that Mother and Father enjoy a similarly repressive (though perhaps not as exaggerated) version of domestic life.
FYI, the production featured the work of your fellow Ragtime citizens! Elena Lagon and Michael Oliver in the cast. Taylor Walls manning the stage manager’s book. And multiple folks like Lindsay Samuel hard at work in the scene shop.