Heidi Chronicles Essay, Research Paper
Heidi Holland and Feminism in The Heidi Chronicles
Wendy Wasserstein?s The Heidi Chronicles attempts to
demonstrate the futility of the women?s rights movement, and its incapacity to fulfill the needs of all women. We trace the main character, Heidi, from the time she develops an interest in men, 1964, to the time where she gives up on men and decides to fulfill her own needs for a family by adopting a child. Wasserstein shows the infiltrating changes in the life of American women with humor and sentimentality. Trapped between the controlling factors of responsibility and love, men and motherhood, gender and political theory, Heidi and her friends search for understanding and selfhood over a 40-year span.
In many ways, Heidi is a passive character. She is torn between her own desires and the influence of those around her when deciding the course of her life. For example, in Act 1 Scene 2, she meets Scoop. It is obvious she does not want to talk to him, but instead if being direct, she lies about her name: ?I know your name is Heidi because it says so on your name tag. Heidi. H-E-I-D-I? (Wasserstein 173). Scoop catches her in her lie, putting her on the spot. The whole situation could have been avoided, however, had she a more confrontational temperament.
She is also very non-committal in her involvement with women?s rights. There is even a hilarious 1970s consciousness-raising session set in an Ann Arbor church basement. Act 1 Scene 3 demonstrates the general voice of the women?s movement. Although she is not a lesbian, as are some others in the group, Heidi participates, although only half-heartedly. As Fran then says to her, ?You either shave your legs or you don?t? (Wasserstein 180). That is to say, she can either be involved or not, there is no in between path.
In Sue Ellen Case?s article titled ?Radical Feminism and Theater? she writes: ?Feminism is a theory; Lesbianism is the practice.? This statement embodies the feelings invoked at the meeting Heidi attends. She separates herself from women due to her involvement with men, and can therefore never truly put the theory into practice. Her involvement with men is unsuccessful, to say the least.
One of Heidi?s biggest problems is that she cannot seem to form new group of friends who will suit her needs. Rather, she sticks by the friendships she formed in her youth, although they leave her empty and unfulfilled. For example, her relationship with Scoop is both futile and maddening. Scoop?s behavior is intolerable, yet appealing because he is direct and unconventional. When they meet, he says to her, ?Are you a virgin? If you choose to accept this mission I?ll find out one way or another?(Wasserstein 174). Coming from any other man, that comment deserve a slap across the face, but Heidi is intrigued by Scoop because he is so original and forthright.
However, they are both repelled by each other?s ambitious and acquisitive nature. Scoop could never marry a woman like Heidi because she is strong of mind, outspoken, and competitive. All these are ?non feminine? personality attributes, and he is basically scared off as he later admits in Act 1 Scene 5, at his wedding.
Scoop?s relationship with Heidi is so frustrating because of the combination of the fact that he is not in love with his wife, he is in love with Heidi, yet he strings her along and never commits to her. It is obvious that he is in love with Heidi; he kisses her on his wedding day. He says to Heidi: ?Is she an A+ like you? No. But I don?t want to come home to an A+. A- maybe, but not A+?(Wasserstein 201). He knows that Heidi embodies a multitude of qualities that he both adores and are somewhat intimidating. Therefore, he chooses to marry Lisa Freidlander, the opposite of all the things Heidi represents to Scoop.