The Mountaintop is a play written by an American playwright Katori Hall and premiered in 2009. The story of the play narrates about Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated after his demonstration on behalf of workers from Memphis. The King played the role of a savior who struggled for the economic improvement of poor Americans. However, Dr. Faedra Carpenter asserts that Martin Luther King Jr. is presented as a human being who has personal drawbacks rather than a hero who protected human rights (4). Nevertheless, there is some evidence in the play that contradicts this point of view.
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Judging by the conversation of the King with a lady Camae, the King indeed is presented as a human being who had feelings, fears, and emotions. However, Hall also created a specific style of narration, according to which it was obvious that the King still could be considered a warrior. For example, talking about marching during the demonstrations, he says: “We are marching for a living wage…Well, we back and we gonna do it right this time” (Hall 15). It shows that Martin Luther was presented as a strong man who was not going to give up. Also, even though the King was shown as a kind human being, he still could be very tough for people. Thus, he interrupts the conversation with Camae when he realized she could be insincere with him: “You think you can break me! Well, YOU can’t break me!” (Hall 23).
The author of the play continues showing the strength of his personality that proves the King to be a warrior rather than a simple human being. He is pursuing his goals, even when people around him have doubts about him. For example, when Camae said he should die because he would not be able to finish what he had started, he answered: “No, it’s not my time…I still have work to do” (Hall 27). Therefore, Katori Hall showed the King as a person who could be kind, gentle, strong, aggressive, and perseverant at the same time. The text of the play allowed Hall to use certain design choices that could improve the artistic image of the play. For instance, when the King says that he is a man and Camae cannot break him, the music is turned off while he is screaming loud. His aggressive gestures, business attire, and low light create a worrying atmosphere that conveys anxiety of the King.
Carpenter, Faedra. “Introduction: Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop.” Methuen Drama Modern Classic Edition, 2015, pp. 1-23.
Hall, Katori. The Mountaintop, Dramatists Play Service, 2009.