Introduction & Overview of The Shrike

Joseph Kramm
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The Shrike Summary & Study Guide Description

The Shrike Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on The Shrike by Joseph Kramm.

When The Shrike, penned by Joseph Kramm, opened on Broadway on January 15, 1952, it received accolades from the public and the critics, which helped guarantee a successful run for 161 performances. Later that year, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

The Shrike chronicles the experiences of Jim Downs, a middle-aged man who has been placed in a mental hospital after a failed suicide attempt, brought on by a stalled career in the theater. His severe depression and feelings of hopelessness are alleviated, however, when an opportunity presents itself for Jim to revive his career. He insists that he is strong enough to leave the hospital and to live a productive and happy life. The doctors, however, disagree. They are convinced that his mental instability has been caused by the failure of his marriage and not because he fears that he is losing his creative energies. The play traces Jim's desperate struggle with the hospital authorities to regain his independence and retain his autonomy. His battle is complicated by his wife, Ann, who in her desperation to hold onto their marriage, becomes an effective accomplice to the hospital's autocratic system. As Kramm documents the power plays Jim must endure as he attempts to gain his release from the hospital, he presents a compelling portrait of repression and resistance.

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This section contains 220 words
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Drama for Students
The Shrike from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.