Madame Sarah Critical Context - Essay

Cornelia Otis Skinner

Critical Context

Madame Sarah gives the reader a sense of the major role of theater in stimulating cultural awareness around the world. Masterfully written plays and superb acting, such as Bernhardt’s, let the universal feelings, motivations, and ideals of human beings be portrayed. When the theater of one culture encounters the theater of another, a clear message is sent that societies are more alike than different, no matter the time or place in history.

Educators seeking books to use for teaching particular time periods in history will find that Skinner’s Madame Sarah gives a true account of the impact that political and economic events from 1844 to 1922 had on individuals and on the development of culture within a given society. The author grounds the beginning of her book with references to political leaders in France, England, the United States, and Prussia. References to political leaders continue to be made throughout the book, which allows for students to continue to determine the relationships between world history and specific events. For example, the wars and cycles of economic boom and bust affected the growth of theater throughout this period. The creative manner in which the theater survived during these times is a true testament to the drive and determination of a collective group of people during bleak times.