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Synopsis of the Play

Langston Hughes play mulatto is a detailed play which deals with issues of racial conflict between two characters. Mulatto is based on the depression era which saw most of the people glad for any job they acquired including working on plantations. The play highlights the social situation of the African Americans at the time, such use of uneducated speech. This paper aims at making an analysis on the characters particularly the protagonist and antagonist, reviewing on the existing relationship between them, cause of the conflict and impact of the conflict to other characters in the play as well as on the plot of the play.

1.0 The Protagonist versus the Antagonist

The play roves between two characters, a white plantation owner, Colonel Thomas Norwood and Robert, his mulatto son who he is not ready to recognize and accept as his own son. Robert happens to be the colonels step son. Hughes has used this as a form of enlightening the audience of the fact that he too was rejected by his father. This in fact influences many themes of his other works, other than in Mulatto. Robert is strong headed and refuses to work in his father’s cotton plantation. 

1.1 Interaction between the Protagonist and the Antagonist

Colonel Norwood’s friend Mr. Fred Higgins creates tension between the relationship of Robert and the colonel, by warning him of Robert’s conduct. Higgins warns colonel Norwood that Roberts’s action will lead to his fatal death. Higgins criticizes the fact that colonel Norwood lives with his black servant, Cora. He proposes to him to just have sex with her but not live with her. Through colonel Norwood readers understand Mr. Higgins as a racist who treats his African American workers as lesser humans. The fact that Robert causes trouble in town creates the conflict in the play.

1.1 Effects of the Interaction between the Protagonist and the Antagonists

Robert happens to be the principal character in the play he is the mulatto son to colonel Norwood and His African American mistress Robert is the protagonist in the play. His trouble causing actions cause a rift between him and his step-father. Robert challenges the plantation orders. He sasses Miss Gray a white female worker at the post office. He does do claiming his radio tubes have been damaged during shipment and demands for his money. By doing this action he breaks the law of conduct on the black male behavior. The result of these conflicts is death. Robert ends killing colonel Norwood. This makes the society to take action on him and  Brother Willie for the murder. Both are lynched.

2.0 The Characters’ Actions

Robert has returned from Atlanta as an educated young chap who challenges the unwritten conduct rule of black people. Robert publicly resists to be dominated by Norwood and Higgins. He also demands for his rights to be recognized s Norwood’s son. Roberts’s actions are intentional portraying his as a daring character. He is high headed and wishes to achieve what he seeks even if it means going against his mother Cora.

Colonel Norwood is disturbed by Roberts’s transformation through education. His personality does not allow Roberts challenge on the state of affairs just because he is educated. Norwood is the antagonist in the play. He physically abuses Roberts other sibling, Sam, William, and sally. The three do not challenge his actions.

3.0 The Character Traits

Colonel Norwood constantly refers to Robert as Cora’s child which evidently portrays his psychological fragmentation. The conflict is further inflamed by colonel Norwood exercise of power in the attempt to break Robert’s rebellious attitude and character. The conflict between the two characters helps us as readers understand the social issues facing the black Americans. Both the antagonist and protagonist end up dead, making the play tragic. Colonel’s in human nature and uncouth behavior is highlighted through the conflict existing between him and the protagonist.

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