Saturday, March 31, 2012

Emily of Emerald Hill

an excerpt of the literary critique that i wrote for my drama assignment. this is posted just for the sake of updating my blog till i can compose my errant thoughts into a coherent blog post. 

From my own point of view, Emily of Emerald Hill is quite a riveting play. It tells the story of a girl who was abandoned by her mother to the mercy of her relatives after her father had passed away just because she was a female. She was then married off to her distant cousin in an arranged marriage and had to climb her way to the seat of the matriarch of the family. And also to earn the respect of the other family members using her intelligence and wit when she was denied the respect and acceptance that was normally bestow upon the eldest daughter-in-law just because she was younger than them.

It is also a tale of an insecure girl who hid within the facade of the matriarch of the family. An insecure woman who desperately tries to control and manages the lives of those around her so that they will always be dependent on her; so that she will have the assurance of knowing that her life has some significance and that no one is going to throw her back into the gutter. It is also the tale of how a woman who had achieved what she wanted and yet lost her husband and her son along the way. A tale of a strong woman who had weathered all kind of hardships in life and had stood tall in the face of tragedies and yet ended up alone in her old age.

It is a play that makes you ponder on whether or not one can really take destiny in their hand and emerge as the winner in this game of life?

I do applaud Stella Kon for coming up and also developing Emily into such a character that we love and despise at the same time. Emily is a woman who had to face one tragedy after another in her life but instead of submissively surrendering to the cards that life dealt her with, she fought for her own happiness and turn out to be one strong woman that one can’t help but to look up upon although at times her stifling need to control and boss the lives of those around her are frowned upon by us.

Painting a vulnerable girl who is struggling to strive in a modernized Peranakan Chinese family, who at times is still trapped in the traditional way of life in the ancestral mansion of Emerald Hill, as a setting is quite as captivating a background as it is. Despite being a one-woman play which might start off as a bit boring seeing that other than Emily the rest of the characters are invisible in the play but as you go along you are gradually encapsulated in this woman’s journey in life.

This play has taught me not to put my judgemental glasses up all the time because there’s always more to a person than what he or she is showing to the world. Emily might appear as a domestic tyrant but deep down she’s actually just an insecure girl-child who desperately wants to belong. This shows me that no one has the right to judge another because what one shows to the world is actually just a tip of an iceberg of who he or she actually is.

 Emily has also taught me that it is better to lose a battle so that one can win the war. She was bullied tremendously by her sister-in-law, Susie, when she first married into Emerald Hill but instead of crying over it or starting petty arguments she instead put her whole effort and attention in trying to get into the good book of her mother-in-law which she successfully did. This strategy of hers taught me that it is good to sometimes employ patience and tolerance in the face of adversity so long as I would come out as the winner in the long run.

            Furthermore, this play has also taught me that you shouldn’t let your past rule your life. Emily is a dominant tyrant who was controlled by her sense of insecurity to do what she does in order to fill the void that was left gaping open by her anxiety of not being wanted. This resulted in her driving her son, Richard, to commit suicide and also to lose her husband. Although I can see where she’s coming from but that doesn’t mean that I condone what she’s doing. She let her past overrode her and that in turn mess up her future. It made me realizes that one shouldn’t dwell too much in the past but instead keep it as a lesson for future references.

            To sum it all up, Emily of Emerald Hill is a thought provoking play that probes on your innermost thoughts and make one questions on what is right and what is wrong. Is it right for Emily to push Richard off the edge just in order for him to be better than his cousin or is it wrong of a mother for wanting what she thought was the best for her son? Is it right for Emily to hold onto a husband who no longer wants her or is it wrong of a wife for wanting to keep her marriage intact?

            Emily of Emerald Hill is indeed a fascinating play. 


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