‘The Heidi Chronicles’ Book Review (Modern American Writers)

‘The Heidi Chronicles’ by Wendy Wasserstein

The book the Heidi Chronicles is a 1988 award winning play written by Wendy Wasserstein as a result of the rise of feminist groups, feminist consciousness, and women-led uprisings of the age. The author details the occurrences recorded from the 1960s through the 1980s from the point of view of Heidi Holland (Roberts, 2013). The major book characters are a dominant woman and two principal men, a witty Peter, and an arrogant Scoop who happens to have a relationship and engagement with Heidi. The key focus of the play is feminism and the factors that contributed to feminist views gaining popularity among women. Furthermore, different ideas and details that seem to become propagated in various parts of the book are instrumental in making the theme of the play clear and in indicating critical issues that need to be checked to assert the idea (Barnett, 2013).The author highlights how the key character’s life and opinion about feminism are affected by her encounters and change throughout her life. In particular, the play observes the impact of her views and the way the two men who have different opinions about life also affect Heidi’s view of life.

Heidi’s Journey to Feminism

Heidi’s journey is portrayed in the two acts through a good portion of the details indicating the disregard that the female artists of the time experienced. The first observable and significant issue that should be accounted due to its impact on Heidi’s life is her acquaintance with Peter. In the year 1965, Heidi and her girlfriend Susan attend a party where they meet another character of the play, Peter Patrone. Here, Heidi is charmed by Peter, and they decide that they will share the commitment and friendship to each other all their lives. Later, during an event at the Chicago Art Institute which Heidi attends Peter confesses that he is homosexual. The confession can be considered to have a major influence on Heidi since there seems to have been a charm between the two of them.

Furthermore, before Peter’s confession, Heidi also has another encounter. In 1968, she meets Scoop Rosenbaum, an arrogant man who tends to classify everything he comes across, and presumably, women as well. Although he shows that he is superior, Heidi becomes involved with Scoop, and she apparently leaves the party to go to bed with him. Consequently, it can be observed that Peter notices the situation in which Heidi finds herself. It appears that there is an involvement between Scoop and Heidi but she refutes the idea that the two are in a relationship (Wasserstein, 1989).

Peter seems to connote that Heidi is using Scoop for sexual and emotional gratification, something which is apparently not true because Peter can observe that Heidi has no physical and emotional satisfaction. One may consider that such a situation makes her journey towards feminism even more realizable.

Another emotional issue that is influential in Heidi’s journey to feminism is the wedding of Scoop and Lisa. As mentioned earlier, Scoop and Heidi have become involved since the time they met at a political rally in 1968. Notably, Scoop appears to state that they had been relating for long enough when he claims that he cannot wait for her any longer. Moreover, it seems that she has engrossed in personal matters so much that she fails to connect with Scoop well, something that she regrets. She may also feel embarrassed when she is introduced by Scoop to Lisa as being the Peter’s fiancé. The two, however, have a real moment in the conversation where they share their memories, recall their relationship, and joke about the times they had together (Wasserstein, 1989).

Years later, Heidi attends the baby shower of the Scoop’s wife. As much as the women seem to be enjoying the party, Heidi appears to be disinterested and does not communicate with anyone. Hence, it is evident that Heidi might have lost the desire to be married and have babies in the midst of her pursuit of feminism. However, she does not seem to be disillusioned concerning the relationship matters. As a matter of fact, she has become successful in the issues of art and women in art (Wasserstein, 1989). When Heide receives news that Scoop was unfaithful to Lisa, she is unsure. This kind of perspective that develops in the mind of Heidi influences her thoughts on feminism (Herrington, 2013).

Moreover, in one instance, readers find Heidi, Scoop, and Peter in the studio. Unfortunately, the two men seem to be more in charge of the show and more dominating as compared to Heidi. It appears to approve the fact that men are more dominant in everything. As far as the play draws readers to this point, Heidi seems to experience a situation where males have more control and power; therefore, she develops a conformable, negative attitude (Wasserstein, 1989). A reader can find a clear demonstration of this approach when Heidi attacks Peter and Scoop for their patronizing treatment in the show. She considers that their way of responding was undermining a fair view of her book and making her not able to express herself freely (Martin, 2014).

Heidi’s Overriding Desire

The key reason that propelled her desire to strive for the women’s appreciation is the wish that their children and daughters, in particular, will be happy in the future rather than sad and disappointed. Her wish is to struggle for the future generation of daughters to be more appreciated. Moreover, Heidi desires that womanhood should be enough reason and cause for success. Her efforts and success in the artwork among women may in a way serve as a motivation for her feminist ideals. Giving lectures on issues that influenced feminism and women’s uprising contributed to the development of her ideas (Roberts, 2013). Furthermore, on her way to feminism, she writes a book that promotes women consciousness.

Her goal is successfully achieved when Peter and Scoop appear to be approving her adopted daughter. Scoop appreciates the efforts made by Heidi and presents a silver spoon for the baby. Furthermore, each of the two men seems to be dependent on Heidi in terms of the real hope and encouragement in their future (Wasserstein, 1989). For example, readers find that Scoop sells his magazine and, therefore, he is not sure what to expect in the future. Peter’s future, on the other hand, is full of uncertainties and looming loneliness due to the death of his friends.

Role of Dance in Heidi’s Life

The dance that Heidi attends in the high school significantly influences her life. The dance is a situation where one can observe different positions that boys and girls, men and women hold. For example, from the play, readers realize that some things are considered to be female (Roberts, 2013). Heidi depicts that there is quite an unsureness of identity, and the girls are not ready to do things that are considered to be men dominated. As observed, when Heidi is left alone by the friend, she just goes ahead to start reading while other people are dancing. It prompts another observation that the men have more control and authority because they are the ones who approach girls when they want to dance. It is obvious that the characters of the play live in men dominated society (Herrington, 2013).

Prolog Analysis

Considering the prolog, readers note that women artists receive comments from their professor as being notable artists who ought to be respected. However, one may realize they do not have as much respect as they deserve (Roberts, 2013). Moreover, the prolog provides an observation of the way in which the social and general upheavals that came with feminism affected both men and women of the time. Therefore, readers realize that some women were disillusioned about what they hope for in their lives (Wasserstein, 1989). Furthermore, one can note that women played a crucial role in shaping how they were treated by the opposite gender. Thus, readers realize that Peter mocks Heidi in a sarcastic way when she says that she has no relationship with Scoop. Despite her desire to promote feminism, Heidi can resist some of those roles that she considers absurd for women. For example, when a feminist claims that feminists ought to shave their hair, it does not seem that Heidi supports this statement.

Conclusion

The journey to become a feminist is one of the most prominent events in Heidi’s life. The play is a powerful indicator of the struggles that feminists have. Apart from facing the injustice of the male-dominated world, the main character constantly has to engage in issues that she has never wished to, such as the altercation where a feminist wants her to shave her feet hair to contain the desires of both Peter and Scoop, Furthermore, as much as the present day uprisings and expectations are not much different from the ones of the previous century, the issues that the play highlights are highly significant matters that affect past and present generations.