Lincoln And Topdog Themes

Good Essays
“Daddy told me once why we got the names we do….Why he named us both. Lincoln and Booth….It was his idea of a joke” (Jacobus, 1650). Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog premiered on July 22, 2001 at the Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. This play centers around two brothers who have been forced to raise themselves within harsh living conditions. The older brother Lincoln’s quotation summarizes the entirety of the play because he and his brother have been set up for failure from the beginning. Individuals who are supposedly meant to provide love and support, such as parents and significant others, eventually abandon Lincoln and Booth. Parks capitalizes on the idea of setting up Lincoln and Booth to wind up in a death match …show more content…
It is significant Parks names her characters after these two prominent men because, "as the Chinese saying goes, 'One 's name is one 's fate" (1644). Lincoln and Booth were not just provided with their names to heighten the dramatic effect of the play. Rather, both of the brothers share similar characteristics of the actual president and assassin. For instance, Abraham Lincoln 's experienced the loss of his mother at age nine due to her death from milk sickness. John Booth 's father passed away when he was fourteen years of age. Both of the historical figures had limited formal education. However, Abe Lincoln was encouraged to read; whereas, John Booth failed to attend school regularly. In fact, John Booth was deemed as an unwilling worker since he would refuse to dedicate considerate amounts of his time and effort towards his career in theatre. Furthermore, John Wilkes Booth saw President Lincoln as an obstacle threatening his lifestyle in the South. John Booth shouted, "Sic semper tyrannis! (Latin for 'Thus ever to tyrants! ') The South is avenged!" after shooting the president in the back of the head ("John Wilkes Booth Biography."). Likewise, Parks ' characters lose their parents at early ages. Additionally, Lincoln is expressed by Booth to have sought an education, "[Lincoln] got on the damn school bus cause [he] didnt have the sense to do nothing else", unlike himself (1650). Furthermore, Booth would rather make an easy living by swindling money through a hoax card trick, and he views his brother as an obstacle needing to be rid of. He specifically shouts, "YOU STANDING IN MY WAY, LINK!" (1650). Lastly, Booth shoots Lincoln in the back of the head. The characters ' daddy knew naming his sons Lincoln and Booth was a joke because they would inevitably fall into a dark fated scenario similar to the historical figures, as clearly

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    The play begins with Hamlet, a suicidal young man, mourning the death of his father. In his first soliloquy, he dramatically states that he wishes his flesh would dissolve. The, he learns the truth from his father’s ghost. This tragedy leads Hamlet to become obsessed with proving that his uncle was the murderer of his father. He spends so much energy thinking about proving that his uncle was indeed guilty, that he didn’t spend much time thinking about what to do when he proved this.…

    • 1018 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Tilak Misner Vuong Period 5 9/26/14 Scarlet Ibis Rough Draft In his short story “The Scarlet Ibis,” James Hurst shows that an overdose of pride can blind us from the way we should treat the ones we love the most. In the beginning of the story, Doodle is born with a disability, much to the disappointment of his brother. Doodle’s brother is so upset and aggravated by this, to the point where he thinks, “It was bad enough having an invalid brother, but having one who possibly was not all there was unbearable, so I began to make plans to kill him by smothering him with a pillow” (1). Instead of looking forward to the companionship that a sibling provides, the brother immediately judges and deprecates him. Additionally, the brother acts as if…

    • 1062 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Throughout the play, many of the characters seek vengeance upon one another. The characters in this play will not stop until they get what they are looking for; but unfortunately, looking to get even can often end in one’s own demise. When King Hamlet’s ghost appears, he tells his son he wants vengeance on his killer. “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,” (1.5.25).…

    • 1220 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    By the end of the play when he thought that his step mother murdered his father not his son he said "But we got to do something quick to make it look as if he skunked himself." He was totally welling to take part in murdering his father which proves how much he hated him. Also, Eben's unhealthy relationship with his brothers made him look to them only as threats that is going to share with him what is originally his "the farm" so he was always telling them that’s my mother's farm not yours and he was not relieved until he got them to sign papers to buy their shares in the…

    • 728 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    I believe he has been planning to kill his brother from day one. He has showed him the great aspects to life that only he could show him, but he then took those away from him and used them to get rid of him. William Armstrong was killed by his…

    • 1027 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    It was a story about painful conflicts between a family. The story charges America with selling false lies built around materialism. The story behind Death of a Salesman was Miller’s conflict with his uncle, Manny Newman, who was also a salesman. He refused to accept failure in his life. When Miller was young, he had written a short story about an unsuccessful salesman.…

    • 1557 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Poe wrote to his father, John Allan, about how he is a bad father and that he was the one that told him to reach for his goals. His father was hard on him and only give Poe a small allowance to use. Poe and his father later lost all contact with each other. In “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe. Montresor wanted revenge on Fortunato.…

    • 370 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Charles comes at Adam with a weapon, intending to kill Adam because Adam was the cause of the disparity between Charles and Cyrus. After many attempts in trying to impress Cyrus, Charles finally snaps out the falsehood of trying to get Cyrus to appreciate him, and Charles tries to murder his own brother. Usually in reality, appealing to your father or someone in power would be easy since it is family, but East of Eden hints that it is not the case. Love causes more pain than satisfaction, therefore contradicting the purpose of trying to be loved because any the attempt to and result of love outweighs the potential benefits of reciprocated love. The book even shows that love caused family members to hate each other.…

    • 1135 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This has consequences that Burden fails to acknowledge until later in the novel. The news destroys Anne and Adam’s perfect image of their father and their need to meet up with the standards that his has set for them. This leads to Adam accepting the job as director of Willie’s hospital and Anne’s affair with Willie. After Burden confronts the judge about the bribes that he accepted, he learns the judges commits suicide and that the judge was his father. This is the first thing that breaks Burden and makes him contemplate how his actions have affected those around him.…

    • 1285 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The tragic play “Death Of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, is about a salesman named Willy Loman whose life is going downhill. Willy Loman, the head of the family, has been teaching his two sons Biff and Happy about how they should live their life. Biff was a football star at his high school and hoped that he would receive a scholarship from University of Virginia. Unfortunately, he flunked his math class and could not graduate. His other son, Happy is the youngest son who actually listens to Willy and his advices, but Willy appreciates Biff more than Happy as his son by favoring him more.…

    • 1080 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays