Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Character Analysis

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One of the most important aspects of a play is the characters. The plot cannot be successfully portrayed to an audience unless the characters are well written. The personality of a character can have a major impact on the way a plot flows. Amongst other things, an individual’s personality is shaped by their experiences. Not only does this apply to the main characters in a play, but this is important for the supporting characters as well. The supporting characters often influence the development of the protagonist. This paper will focus on African American female characters and the way they are portrayed, specifically the main female characters in plays written by August Wilson. Does the time in which the plot takes place have an effect on the …show more content…
Ma Rainey’s character is actually based on the famous singer. As previously mentioned, black entertainers were viewed as property. The characters Sturdyvant and Irvin “become wealthy exploiting Ma’s recordings, providing a strong example of black victimization by societal racism.” (Gantt 7). This exploitation is not a fictional aspect the plot. Black entertainers were actually treated this way. These entertainers put up with the exploitation because of the importance of music. In an article written by Ahmet Beşe, the importance of music, specifically blues, within African American cultured is highlighted. He points out August Wilson’s interest in the cultural importance of music and how he showcases that in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. According to Beşe, “The function of the blues in the play varies in terms of the ideas and ideologies of the characters as both musicians and African Americans. It reminds the character of their past history; functions as a symbolic way of finding one’s place in life; and through the music the characters tell their stories, and try to understand life itself. Even though the white characters seemed to have control over her and her musicians, she still maintained control. Blues was important to Ma Rainey and that is what fueled her determine and drive to not let the exploitation get to her.” (Beşe 229). August Wilson wrote Ma Rainey’s character to be someone who always had the final say when making a decision. She was seen as a leader to her band members. She possessed all the strong-black-woman characteristics that were previously mentioned. August Wilson did not let the historical precedence that was set during this time in history determine how Ma Rainey’s character was

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