Play Response Essay

Submitted By chloe613
Words: 743
Pages: 3

COD Spring 2014 Sarah Ruhl’s play “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)” is set in the 1880s at the dawn of the age of electricity. There’s the Givings, who just had their first child although Mrs. Givings is having trouble providing milk for her baby. And there’s the Daldrys, where Mrs. Daldry is a new patient of Dr. Givings, who specializes in treating “hysteria” in his patients by inducing orgasms with the newly invented vibrator. In the very beginning of the play, both marriages appear to follow the idea of institutional marriage with the clear separation of male and female spheres to meet the needs of the society and the strictly defined gender roles it imposes on men and women during the time period. Dr. Givings, only cares about his sciences and job and he expects his wife, as she does, to only care about being a mother and housewife (economic production and childrearing). Further, both wives are obedient of their husbands’ demands (I recall in one scene when Mr. Daldry simply told Mrs. Daldry to “be a good girl and go to the room”, as a father would to his daughter). Like Coontz said, it seems that the idea of romantic love and lust within marriage was considered foolish and uncommon. Consequently, the rigid separation between male and female spheres made it hard for couples to share their thoughts, making emotional intimacy almost impossible. Oblivious to his wife’s emotional distress from not being able to feed her own baby, the stoic Dr. Givings is only interested in sciences; instead of comforting her, he becomes practical. However later on in Act I, there seems to be a difference between the two marriages. The Givings shares an intimate moment in the living room and he does expresses his love for her through words several times. However, there seems to be very little sympathy between the Daldry’s, as if their love has faded or it never existed. The idea of female purity and sexual repression also made physical intimacy problematic in the play as women were brought up with the idea that they should lack sexual passion. Both wives were in disbelief when the wet nurse, Elizabeth, told them the sensations induced from the device seem to be the feeling you get when you have “relations” with your husband. Man also found it unnatural if a woman enjoyed sex. When Mrs. Daldry expresses the sensations induced by the vibrator, Dr. Givings remains very businesslike. Female sexual pleasure is so alien to the mind of the average 19th-century man that he cannot recognize it even when it is taking place literally beneath his nose. Though there are changes to the Givings’ marriage later in Act II, Dalrys’ barely changes and it’s affirmed that that there really is little sympathy between them as they don’t even try to work on their relationship. Mr. Daldry kisses Mrs. Givings with no signs of guilt and though Mrs. Givings feels liberated,