The Sisters Rosensweig

by Wendy Wasserstein

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Critical Overview

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According to many critics, The Sisters Rosensweig has a feminist appeal in its portrayal of generations of Rosensweig women that is undeniable. This idea is in keeping with the bulk of Wendy Wasserstein’s plays, which are consistently described as being treatises on women and their attempts to fit accepted social roles while at the same time maintaining a sense of self-identity. She is, at times, recognized and even appreciated for her typecasting of predictable characters, which work in tandem to speak to a more encompassing feminist perspective. Other critics, however, have seen this stereotyping as a reason for less-than-engaging story lines and a lack of action.

However predictable Wasserstein’s characters are, they manage to be equally colorful. Critics have delighted in the lively, entertaining Rosensweig bunch. Their diversity brings a lot to their often intellectually engaging conversations, stimulated by the events of the late 1980s and early 1990s, as does their supreme sense of wit. Again, however, Dick Lochte, in his review of the play in the Los Angeles Times, draws attention to the predictability factor in the work. Lochte states, ‘‘Though most of these supporting characters get their fair share of witty dialogue, there is something just a bit too predictable about everything they do.’’

Finally, she has been praised for her depiction of the Jewish culture as it is realized in her characters. Wasserstein, in Michael P. Kramer’s Beyond Ambivalence: (Re)imagining Jewish AmeriT can Culture; or, ‘‘Isn’t that the Way the Old Assimilated Story Goes?,’’ comments on the complexity Wasserstein takes on in the work’s consideration of ethnic assimilation, explaining, ‘‘Wasserstein carefully casts Sara’s declaration of Tess’s independence from Jewish guilt and ambivalence as an affirmation of her daughter’s Jewishness.’’

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Essays and Criticism