The King and I Summary


In this romantic musical, the boy-meets-girl plot is woven into the historical context of British Imperialism in Asia. Thus it is also the story of a clash between cultures and the dynamics between Great Britain and "oriental" peoples. The King of Siam invites an English governess to come to his country and teach the children of his many wives about the modern world. Yet he himself resists changing his traditional role as benevolent patriarchal dictator until the attractive and bold young governess wins his heart and his respect. It is his son Prince Chulalongkorn who will carry on the King's program of scientific modernization of Siam after the King's death in the final scene. Oscar Hammerstein based the play on a novel by Margaret Landon, Anna and the King of Siam. He and composer Richard Rodgers transformed it into one of the most memorable musicals they produced in their long association together, departing from the more typical "musical comedy" with a more serious treatment of their subject. Yul Brynner played the king in the Broadway production and then in the film version with co-star Deborah Kerr, whose singing was dubbed. Over the years Brynner performed the role over 4,000 times. The film was a box-office success and is still considered one of the better musical films of the twentieth century. The play's enduring popularity was verified in 1996, when film star Lou Diamond Phillips assumed the title role for a successful Broadway revival.

The King and I Summary

Yul Brynner as the King and Deborah Kerr as Anna in the film adaptation Published by Gale Cengage

In Bangkok, Siam (which would later come to be known as Thailand), in 1862 a strong-willed, widowed schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, arrives at...

(The entire section is 1313 words.)