Lysistrata, Oedipus Rex, And a Raisin in the Sun on the Issue of Social Influence
This is an illustration of the role of social, family and individual influence in the three plays, focusing on how influence changed the lives of the protagonists of Aristophranes' Lysistrata, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. It uses 7 sources and is in MLA format.
Every individual is at some point of his life influenced either by someone or by society. This influence totally changes him for the better or for the worse. The impact totally transforms the individual to such an extent that he is a completely different person. The inspiration is so great and effective that there is a revolutionary change in the individual and he becomes a new individual altogether. However, the change could be for the better or for the worse. The influence could be negative in which case the person will be completely destroyed emotionally or physically and the impact could be so devastating that this destruction could even be self inflicted. On the other hand, a positive influence could make a better individual in character or in strength and enable him to achieve the impossible.
Society may also be influenced by an individual. The strength of this person could completely transform the society for the better or for the worse. This person may affect the societal norms, change their way of thinking and attributes or may even lead the society into doing totally bizarre. He may give the society strength to fight for itself or his manipulation could inculcate negativity among the society. Thus an influence on an individual or society may have effects that are radical. Three plays have been studied below to explore what part influence plays in society and what changes may occur due to it.
Influence in Aristophanes' "Lysistrata"
Women are considered to be weak but in Aristophanes' "Lysistrata," the author present a different kind of protagonist. She is a strong woman. Throughout the play we are made aware of the influencing power she has on the society. It is the strength of the character of Lysistrata that leads the women to take such a major step. Lysistrata convinces the women by her persuading power and convincing capabilities not to have sex with their mates as a protest against the endless war for money. "So fine, it means just this, Greece saved by the women!" [Aristophanes, Lysistrata].
Lysistrata, through her persuasion and certitude is able to lead the women into her plot against the male of her society. It is her manipulative influence and strength of character that compels the women to protest and fight for peace. Through her convincing ability and her influence she is able to lure the women of the society to agree to her thoughts and plans. It is Lysistrata who is behind the master plan and she is able to sway the society towards the direction that she has thought of and planned for. "Nay, never let us be cast down by calamity! Let us be brave to bear, and go back to our posts." [Aristophanes, Lysistrata].
Her plan is very bizarre but it is her determination to influence that causes all the women to take such a major step against their men and stand up against them. An example of such a demonstration is when she gathers the women to go to Acropolis:
Nay, never let us be cast down by calamity! let us be brave to bear, and go back to our posts. It would be shameful indeed not to trust the promises of the oracle.
They all go back into the Acropolis." [Aristophanes, Lysistrata].
Lysistrata sees the myriad of war, waged against the enemy and the men's inability to direct their attention to their womenfolk that was causing the unrest in society. She built the courage for herself and the women of her community, convincing them to protest against the outrageous war, by targeting the most important asset of womanhood- the tool of sex. She is clever in identifying that sex makes the world go round. Men cannot function without it and if the women denied them of this right they are bound to listen to the women. Therefore it is her very personal views and influence that drove the women to act as they did throughout the play.
She is the intelligent protagonist through which Aristophanes wants to give a message. Women can have influence on society as well. They too have leadership qualities, and they can construct plans to mislead / lead others. They can connive as effectively as men do. Although the play Lysistrata is a comedy but it is clear that Aristophanes wants to send out a different and grave message along with it. They are not at all the weaker sex. Indeed they have the same kind of determination and will power to influence society, albeit patriarchal. (Monarch Notes, 1963)
Influence in Lorraine Hansberry's play Raisin in the Sun
In Lorraine Hansberry's play Raisin in the Sun, Walter is presented as an irresolute struggling man who is trying his best to make a living through quick money and become established by his easy short cut method. He leads life in a lazy manner. He is a man with no values and strength of character. Being the head of the family is not an easy job but he does not take his responsibility seriously. He does not have any kind of influence. Instead his father, on whom he is dependent, influences him. Walter does not have strong convictions in the beginning and had no values. He is not only selfish in nature but he is only concerned with what he gets in return for everything he does. He is concerned about money. To him "Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life -- now it's money" [Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun]. He does not have values and is too self- centered to do what is right. Throughout the play, his mother is always trying to make him a better man. She always corrects him when he makes a mistake or makes a bad decision.
She always tries to make him see the right path. We see that from time to time she fights and agues with him so that he may not go astray. She is always trying to invoke values in him. She tries to teach him to care for the rest of the family also and not be selfish. "There is always something left to love. And if you ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing" [Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun].
She is always correcting him but at the same time she tells him that she is there for him. She supports him in the only way she knows best - by mothering him. Though her influence is very subtle but towards the end of the play her influence overpowers him and he realizes his mistakes and tries to correct himself. It was her influence that saves him from self-destruction.
Walter gradually learns to amend his mistakes. He develops as an individual, to make decision and become influential in his contribution to society, to differentiate from the right to wrong. He becomes independent and is able to make his own decision, choosing the course of life for himself. In this sense, the society, more like his mother, influenced Walter, forcing him to morph from a weakling to someone who has control over his decision. He gains respect from his family members. From a weak indecisive man he changes himself to a man of honor and a decision maker and all the credit goes to his mother who slowly and steadily was able to convince and correct him. Every step of the way, she fought with him and had an effect on him and in the end her influence won over his weaklings and he was swayed towards the right path. Thus it was her influence that made him a better man, which proved beneficial for the whole family. It was the power of one and feeble woman that enabled him to alter his life for a better future and see right from wrong [Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun].
It is only later in the play that Walter realizes he is mistaken of his mother's motive. She only meant to influence him to make him a better man. He misunderstood her motive to be selfish. When he realizes his mistake he becomes obsessed with correcting his self demeanors by doing the right thing, and stop pretending to have false pride. It is through his mother that Walter had been able to decide for himself, he wanted a new life. He did not want to remain stagnant in society. Hence, the individual motivation to change and influence oneself in A Raisin in the Sun indicates how those around us could influence and motivate us to take a positive course…