Introduction & Overview of WASP

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WASP Summary & Study Guide Description

WASP 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 Bibliography on WASP by Steve Martin.

Steve Martin's one act play, WASP, was first published in New York City in 1996. In this play, Martin presents his view of the traditional culture of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (hereafter referred to as W.A.S.P.s). The play's family is not an individual family, rather it is a family whose characteristics refer to typical W.A.S.P. values. The play's setting, a "fifties house," possibly indicates Martin's sense that the 1950s was the last decade in which this culture flourished in the United States in its traditional form.

As an exploration of traditional White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture, WASP joins a great deal of art and scholarship on the subject. W.A.S.P. culture, in its U.S. (as opposed to British) variant, is interesting to scholars and artists for many reasons. The major reason is that W.A.S.P. values have significantly shaped U.S. culture. White Anglo-Saxon Protestants were the dominant ethnicity when the nation was in its infancy, and this culture remained influential for a very long time afterwards.

This play touches on Martin's familiar themes. For example, he shows that the father is the dominant parent in the household. The mother's lesser status points to the gender inequality of traditional W.A.S.P. culture, of which Martin's play is critical. WASP also makes much of its characters' secret yearnings for passion and intimacy. With this, Martin points to another common criticism of traditional W.A.S.P. culture, namely its valuing of emotional reticence; critics say this is an unhealthy repression.

Martin's first play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, fared much better than WASP did with audiences and critics. Nonetheless, as critics say, WASP has its strong points. It remains in print along with other plays by Martin in an edition published by Samuel French, Inc., in 1998.

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This section contains 308 words
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Buy the WASP Study Guide
WASP from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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