Introduction & Overview of The Sound of a Voice

This Study Guide consists of approximately 40 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Sound of a Voice.
This section contains 334 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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The Sound of a Voice Summary & Study Guide Description

The Sound of a Voice 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 Sound of a Voice by David Henry Hwang.

David Henry Hwang's The Sound of a Voice is a tragic story told through the mythic metaphors of Japanese literature. This play is Hwang's attempt to explore some of the deepest, and sometimes contradictory, human emotions. To do so, he created two very lonely middle-aged characters and placed them in an isolated house, almost as if to watch them interact as they simultaneously long for, and repel, the magnetic powers of love. Both his female and his male characters are desperately lonely, but their fear of being psychologically marred by the other keeps them from a final surrender to their emotional needs.

The Sound of a Voice was first produced on a double bill with Hwang's The House of Sleeping Beauties by Joseph Papp at the New York Shake-speare Festival Public Theater on November 6, 1983. Both of these plays were a departure for Hwang, who had previously focused on stories about Chinese American immigrants and the problems they faced as they tried to assimilate, or adjust, to life in the United States. Both plays take place somewhere in Japan, and several critics have remarked that the overall theme of The Sound of a Voice reminds them of the work of Japanese author Kobo Abe, especially his Woman in the Dunes, which was first published as a novel and later adapted to the screen.

The Sound of a Voice is a deeply moving play with a surprising, or, more appropriately, a shocking ending. In the play, Hwang's characters must confront their fears of growing old, of never finding love, and of never being comforted by the intimacy of a long and trusted relationship, all in the short but intense space of one act. To present such emotion in a short span of time, Hwang needed to create a dialogue that is as precise as it is spare, a feat that he accomplished quite successfully. The dramatic impact of this short play is not only deeply felt, but, according to many critics, also very haunting.

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This section contains 334 words
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Drama for Students
The Sound of a Voice from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.