Hugh Wheeler Writing Styles in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Hugh Wheeler
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More than half of the play is sung, often without a clear melody, and employs natural, conversational syntax. The play opens with a prologue sung by the company that outlines its main focus. The musical sequences that follow often provide symbolic echoes of the plot. For example, in the first scene after Sweeney and Anthony arrive in London, Anthony sings the city's praises. Sweeney has a contrary view of London, however, that he expresses in a song which describes the city as "a hole in the world; / Like a great black pit / And the vermin of the world / Inhabit it." His vitriolic personification of the city reflects his anger over the loss of his wife and daughter. Ironically, he will eventually fall into that same pit of corruption.

Later Johanna sings out the window of Judge Turpin's house, feeling like the confined birds she sees the street vender...

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This section contains 336 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Study Guide
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Drama for Students
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.