Discus Baraka’s Dutchman as a kind of drama that it might be.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Baraka wrote Dutchman he was called LeRoi Jones, and it opened off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Theatre, New York City, in 1964. It is said that Baraka was then still "in his Bohemian phase." Bohemian poets were those writing before World War I who met in Paris and pursued an unrestrained life style. This ended with the advent of the Great War, but the term remained in circulation as a symbol for impassioned artistic fervor and the love of a lifestyle with no restraints on actions or feelings. It is also said that critics detect Dadaistic tones in Dutchman. Dadism was born in Paris in 1916 and is that artistic leaning that protests against the bourgeoisie in life; it was born as a protest against World War II.

In light of these brief definitions, Dutchman can be analysed as "a kind of drama" in which Lula displays the stereotypical impulses of the Bohemian mentality and lifestyle (except that she is written by Baraka as being psychotic) while Clay erupts into Dadistic fevered anti-bourgeoisie fury. The play can be analysed in terms of Dadaist trends as Lula antagonizes Clay into exploding against the established order and against the seemingly fascist restraints of social culture on Clay's freedom to be a man of his own design. In addition to these critical classifications, Dutchman is also presented by Baraka as an allegorical play with Clay being a sort of modern African-American Everyman and an Adam figure reflecting the temptation and fall in the Garden. Lula is both the accusing serpent from the Garden allusion and the mythical Eve of Adam's downfall. As an allegory, Dutchman has symbolism on a large scale and tells of something through the symbolism that is even more important than the action being portrayed.

Read the study guide:
Dutchman

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question