2 December 2014
Intimate Apparel Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel captures the daily lives of the characters in the play. Intimate Apparel takes place in Lower Manhattan, during the early twentieth century; and is able to convey the desires and visions of Esther, George, and Mrs. Van Buren. Esther craves love from a man and because of this desire; she turns out to be the play’s tragic hero. George, a second-class citizen, faces racial stereotypes that stimulate his actions. He visions of surpassing the stereotypes and being a successful business man. Mrs. Van Buren, on the other hand, yearns of attention from her spouse. The husband suppresses her because she could not bear a child. Esther, George, and Mrs. Van Burens motivations dictate their own actions; and dreams and illusions play a major role in their negative decision making. Esther, the main character, is deceived by illusions and wants which lead to her tragic downfall. In the first scene, Esther is jealous of Corrina Mae’s wedding night because she has yet to find love. She is offended when Mrs. Dickson questions her love with George. She writes letters to a worker in Panama and mentions, “It may come to nothing. But I am his sweetheart twice a month, and I can fill that envelope with anything that I want” (Nottage 28). The letters symbolize a sign of hope that she will get married. The first intimacy she receives is from George’s letters, which is arbitrary because he is from Panama. Esther and George write to each other twice a month, which makes the relationship seem superficial. They only know each other through the letters and Esther is already consumed by this act of love. This is similar to online dating, where it is easy to be deceived by a fake profile. The connection grows stronger throughout each letter they write. Esther is highly insecure about herself and hopes to experience love with George. Mrs. Dickinson, a mother-like figure, advises Esther to be careful because she does not have experience with the opposite sex. Esther fantasizes about qualities George possesses, such as being handsome, and having a melodic voice. Esther believes her luck has changed for the better after her marriage and her beloved husband quickly turns into a different person. Esther wants to please George by showing intimacy. She tries her best in impressing George by cooking his favorite dish, however, it is clear George is not interested in his wife. As Esther is standing there nude in front of her husband, he comments, “What yuh doing” and “Come put yuh clothin” (Nottage 64). George mocks Esther because he knows she is not being herself. Esther loses her strong personality displayed in the beginning. George takes advantage of this by doing what he desires and does not care about her opinion. Esther’s dream of being finding love motivates her to stay with her husband. Esther illustrates, “[savoring] his touch. He kisses her neck, her back, her shoulders, her breasts. He embraces her, almost too much. Esther nevertheless surrenders to the unexpected affection” (Nottage 65). She yearns of a man that will love her at the age of thirty five. Esther pushes the relationship to work, but she is deceived by the illusion of love. Esther gives up her life saving to George when she knows that he is not the right person for her. She dreams of opening up a beauty parlor and now Esther’s dreams are crushed because of this big illusion. She always feared of being alone. The ripping of the quilt resembles Esther’s dreams being shattered.
Mrs. Van Buren and Esther share similarities because they desire some form of interaction, whether it is physical or emotional. Mrs. Van Buren, in my interpretations, has always been the most miserable character in the play. George Armstrong yearns for the American dream which motivates his actions in the play. He is manipulating and only looks out for himself. George wants to become a wealthier person for stress