World onto stage in Royall Tyler’s The Contrast The Contrast was written in 1787 when America had recently defeated the British in the Revolutionary war, short after the Declaration of Independence. The setting of the play is New York and its upper-class society. At this early state of America’s existence as an independent nation, Tyler wrote the first truly American play, putting an analysis of American behaviour on stage. Considering this context, I’ m going to examine how Postrevolutionary America, with its image of the New World, is presented in the play. The meaning of the characters has to be taken into account. The meaning of The Contrast could be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, the play exposes the conflicts and dangers of America after the Revolution, on the other hand, it presents virtues considered to be typical American in contrast to the vices of the Old World. The possible interpretation of the play as negative picture of Postrevolutionary America is based on the implied conflicts between opposing attitudes and the danger of instability. Tyler conveys the opposing attitudes of patriotism and admiration of foreign sophistication. Colonel Manly and his servant Jonathan are proud to be American and love their country. Manly, who states “I love my country” (p. 79, l. 18), is proud to have served his country in the Revolutionary War and the putting down of Sheys’ Rebellion. He still wears his regimental coat in proud remembrance of the fighting for his country in the War of Revolution. Jonathan represents the American Yankee who is also proud of his origin and does not care about foreign sophistication. The sophisticated behaviour of Dimple, his servant Jessamy, Charlotte and Letitia stands in contrast to Manly and Jonathan. These characters obviously admire the traits of British upper-class society. Charlotte …
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