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American Dream

Edward Albee




Under Mommy's reign of terror, Daddy is a negative entity—indeed, early in the play Mommy reduces his speech to the echo of hers. Bent to Mommy's will, he relies on her entirely for the confirmation of his masculinity: thus the protracted scene at the door when Mrs. Barker rings, which Mommy poses as a test of his manliness. Like Mommy, Daddy also displays a disturbing propensity for infantile behavior. Thus when Mrs. Barker removes her dress, Daddy mumbles: "I just blushed and giggled and went sticky wet". Whereas Mommy becomes the tyrannical sadist in her regression, Daddy characteristically becomes the child needing punishment. Daddy's masochism also appears clearly in the opening of the door, in which he submits to the demonstration of manliness that Mommy demands. As a number of critics have noted, such rituals of demonstration, and the public humiliation that ensues, are typical of masochistic fantasy.

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