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Norman Krasna’s Play “Dear Ruth” Review Essay

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Updated: Sep 6th, 2021

Current essay deals with analysis of Norman Krasna’s play named Dear Ruth which is the classics of modern American drama. Research purposes we pose are not about revealing plays structure or its comprehensive description. Instead, this argumentative essay seeks to outline the contours of the main theme that can be found in Dear Ruth and reveal relations between characters, their viewpoints and cognitive perceptions which in their turn constitute the theme realization. The main theme analyzed in this argumentative essay is a pure love that paves its way through human dignity and the evils of war.

After the main elements of this theme are revealed we discuss farm house as an important setting in the play where all major events unfold. Finally, the integration of this setting with central idea is made describing how it provides expressive means for depicting main themes in Krasna’s play.

There is nom denying of the fact that the theme of love is represented in Krasna’s play in some extraordinary way. The representation of love as a feeling may differ from genre to genre, from plot to plot. Hence, love may be represented as something fatal and tragic as in case of Shakespeare’ s Romeo and Juliet or as something airy, romantic and fatal as we can see in romanticist tradition (Goethe, Scott, Burns, Byron) or in some other peculiar to modern art modes.

What concerns this particular play the theme of love is deeply affected by comedic genre of performance and the setting of The Second World War. It seems that this play unites pure love without object with deep feeling of human dignity, patriotism, pacifism and comedic genre which becomes a wonderful decoration and estrangement of Krasna’s greater ideas embedded in Dear Ruth.

First, consider the plot centre of the play – an ‘eccentric’ (sic) family of Judge Harry Wilkins includes him, his wife and two daughters. The year 1944 when American troops are still fighting with Nazis. Miriam, the youngest Wilkins’ youngest daughter, an intellectually developed girl with the articulated civil position and viewpoints decided to take her own initiative to defend the cause of peace against fascism and all other ugly forces.

She starts correspondence with Lt. Seawright whom she motivates morally and encourages him for heroic deeds to protect the future of the United States and the whole world. It is evident that these texts are written not as love letters but instead represent the voice of human dignity and heroism. To motivate William Miriam sends with her letters the photos of her 22-year old sister Ruth and names herself Ruth as well.

Ruth is very beautiful woman and Miriam thinks that it would be more effective in terms of motivation to attach her photos with the letter. Moreover, she is older and hence has more romantic experience. Here we see that the discourse of Miriam’s letters were not romantic but rather social.

All she wanted to do is to enhance the spirit of American soldier but she couldn’t imagine that such feelings as love follows all genuine human feelings even if they represent civil position. Correspondence with a beautiful and hones girl in difficult conditions of war and suffering was a real balm for Lieutenant who connected his return to the United States and believed that he would meet his beloved Ruth.

Consequently when he appears at the Wilkins’ house a genuine comedic genre comes into play since he stuns everybody with his arrival and nobody except Miriam knows what really happened. The comic nature of situation is even reinforced by Ruth who has just engaged to the executive in one bank.

All characters presented in this play engage in a strange circle of irony and unstopping jokes. Take Father-judge who says to his wife: “You are the keeper of my home and the mother of my children, and I am not satisfied” and you will understand how funny this play is.

When Ruth finds out that her sister Miriam wrote those letters using her name she tries to avoid meeting with Lieutenant and all these creates funny situations as crazy from love William tries to find his beloved Ruth. Ruth is constantly trapped in funny and comic situations which unite love of Lieutenant and unrestrained humor and fun of the comedy. Lieutenant is described as romantic, young American boy, honorable and amorous, which amplifies the romantic connotations of the comedy.

Love theme however comedic it is in Krasna’s play is significantly contrasted with rationality and practicability of other characters: for instance bank’s clerk whom Ruth is engaged to. They are too serious in their desire to earn money and social status and do not notice that love is more important for people since it unites them in difficult period of their life and embraces morality, loyalty and patience which are intrinsic characteristic of genuine human dignity.

This absence of love and philistine practicability are extensively ridiculed in Krasna’s play. Abovementioned Ruth’s boyfriend seems to be blank and ridiculous object without feelings. He is too naïve and limited and finally it results in Ruth falling in love with Lieutenant. Notwithstanding the fact that this unraveling of the plot is represented in humorous way the spectators however can understand that in fact it is all about pure love that unites people even they don’t expect it. Miriam letters filled with best human feelings and orientations were a link that united people who otherwise would never meet and tie their lives. Therefore, the symbolic meanings of comedy, war, patriotism and finally life are revealed when understand what is all about and how all this is interconnected.

The love thematic is revealed not only in the characters of Ruth and Lieutenant. Ruth and Miriam’s parents though living together for more than twenty ears still maintain warm and loving relations. They are organized around constant self-mockery and jokes which are characteristic of a long and solid matrimony. Edith is a smiley woman who is always ready to help and reassure her husband. They may be described as being such immediate and natural as children.

The love theme is explicated by many expressive methods used in this play among which red rose appearing on the Miriam’s sofa in the second act seems to be the most notable and dependent. First act of this wonderful play seems to pass without evident symbolism in design and theatrical interior. But as Lieutenant comes backs from the front and visits Ruth house much symbolism is added to the play.

Red rose appearing on the sofa is lying while we see Lieutenant being confused and enamored at the same time since he loves Ruth and can’t find her. As the plot unravels new roses are added and gradually fill stage interior. This aggregation of roses which symbolize pure love is accompanied by emotional climax which grows as Ruth falls in love with lieutenant and the play comes to its natural ending. Every rose added represents every step of love that head in the direction of main character’s heart. Hence, it may be said that red roses as symbolic sings may be described as closely tied with the play’s main theme.

To sum it up current essay described the main aspects of Dear Ruth providing us with evidence of pure love as a central theme of Krasna’s play. Besides this, concrete element of material setting such as red rose was analyses in relation to the main topic and the conclusion was made that it used as a symbolization of love and romance.

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"Norman Krasna’s Play "Dear Ruth" Review." IvyPanda, 6 Sept. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/norman-krasnas-play-dear-ruth-review/.

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IvyPanda. "Norman Krasna’s Play "Dear Ruth" Review." September 6, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/norman-krasnas-play-dear-ruth-review/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Norman Krasna’s Play "Dear Ruth" Review." September 6, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/norman-krasnas-play-dear-ruth-review/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Norman Krasna’s Play "Dear Ruth" Review'. 6 September.

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