A Raisin in the Sun

Development of the Family Melodrama Genre: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Raisin in the Sun College

A melodrama is a film which appeals to the emotions of its audience, on a higher level than the simple “drama” genre. The characters of a melodrama are often stereotyped and exaggerated to indicate something about the culture of the times, making their traits illustrations of the writer’s thoughts on society. Both A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and A Raisin in the Sun (1961) are family melodramas of the classical and postclassical periods, respectively. There are three main elements which were altered, or rather developed, from 1945 to 1961 which change the qualities of the melodrama genre: historical context, conventions and icons. Therefore, while the general understanding of the genre remains the same, and while the themes within the two films are very similar, the elements change according to the attitudes of the times and the development of societal issues, or indeed their progressive nature.

Before analysing and comparing the genre which links these two films, it is important to note the periods in which they were set and made, and the social constructions behind both their main themes and their characters’ actions. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was made in 1945, the year in which the Second World War ended. However, the...

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