Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Stories

Implications of the Second Theater Scene in Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets College

With the second theater scene of Stephen Crane’s novella Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, the plot of the selected play is used ironically to provide insight to the hopes and concerns of its audience. Because the theater is a form of escape for Maggie and those of the Bowery tenement specifically, the strife of characters is very much reflective of their reality and elicits raw, visceral reactions — to both their “imagined” and “real” condition (31). This is seen in the chosen melodrama wherein a “heroine was rescued from the palatial home of her guardian,” which is ironic in that its inevitably hopeful and happy ending both simplifies and falsifies life — setting up the idea that those above the audience are always happy and that all those less than are innocently unhappy, until they can better their circumstances (31). The plot also reflects the concerns of the audience, affirming that the “poor and virtuous” may “eventually surmount the wealthy and wicked,” giving hope to the otherwise hopeless, and playing off of their subconscious desires — although providing no real method for ascension other than random acts of heroism (32).

This unrealistic promise of heroics is ironic too, as it is what likely leads Maggie to see Pete as...

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