In The Contrast, what do Dimple and Manly think of the American theater scene, and why?

In The Contrast, Mr. Dimple detests American theater, claiming that European theater is much better and that it ruined American entertainment for him. Colonel Manly is a proud American who has never been to see European theater. He says he hopes he never does see theater in Europe, because he never wants to hate something about his country.

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In Royall Tyler’s play The Contrast, the characters of Mr. Billy Dimple and Colonel Henry Manly have opposite views on the quality of the American theater scene.

Early on in the play, Colonel Henry Manly’s sister Charlotte asks Mr. Dimple what he thinks of the entertainment scene in New...

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In Royall Tyler’s play The Contrast, the characters of Mr. Billy Dimple and Colonel Henry Manly have opposite views on the quality of the American theater scene.

Early on in the play, Colonel Henry Manly’s sister Charlotte asks Mr. Dimple what he thinks of the entertainment scene in New York. Dimple responds with a sense of disgust at this question and tells her that to a man who is well-traveled like him, there is nothing entertaining about this city. Colonel Manly and Charlotte question Mr. Dimple about this, because they do not know what he means. Mr. Dimple explains that when he went to the theater in New York, he was bored, distracted, and not engaged in the plot of the show. He then asks Colonel Manly if he has been to Europe, for that is where Mr. Dimple feels “brilliant,” quality theater is.

Colonel Manly has never been to Europe, and Mr. Dimple tells him that when he does eventually go, he will learn to hate the American theater scene too. This seems to irk Colonel Manly, who is a proud American and a character who represents a stereotypical American hero. Manly replies that if this is the case, he hopes he never sees European theater, because he never wants to hate something from America.

Ultimately, the different views the men have on American theater underscores the way the two characters are opposites and reinforces what they represent throughout the play.

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