Anna And The King Character Analysis

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Musical theatre had outstanding messages concerning civil rights in the 20th century. One incredibly influential show was Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, which addressed racism as well as interracial relationships. South Pacific arrived in theaters in 1947 while the country was fresh out of World War II. Nellie Forbush, a naval nurse, falls in love with a Frenchman, Emile, while serving on a Pacific island. She is appalled when she discovers that he has two mixed race children. She tries to justify herself and says that she cannot help her prejudice, that it was something she was born with. A fellow marine, in the song “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” rebukes her. He sings, “you’ve got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made, and people whose skin is a different shade”…show more content…
Audiences saw through South Pacific, that one could overcome their prejudices and live in harmony with people of other races and cultures. Rodgers and Hammerstein continued to address tolerance in their 1951 show, The King and I. Based on the novel by Margaret Landon, the musical focuses on the relationship between the main character Anna and The King. Anna is a British teacher who is contracted to work for The King of Siam. The two have differing opinions on just about anything imaginable. Both characters have their own soliloquy in which they ponder if their way is the right way, only briefly considering that their customs may not be the only right way. In the same fashion, Hammerstein critiques the western sense of superiority in the song “Western People Funny,” in which The King’s wives sing that westerners seem peculiar to them as well (Jones). In the end, The King and Anna break down their cultural barriers and comes to terms with their differences, and it through their relationship that audiences see that peace and respect between cultures can be
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