Belasco’s Play: The Girl of the Golden West
I analyzed the aspect of gender roles within this play. Here Sheriff Rance accepts the challenge to play Minnie at poker because of the wager. So what does this mean? It means he was willing to risk letting the criminal, Johnson aka Ramerrez, go in order for the chance to make Minnie his wife.
There weren’t many women in the play which corresponds with history so this led me to evaluate the role that women had the play. Here Minnie is the central character. Even though Johnson/Ramerrez the the criminal that the story is centered around, Minnie is the character that moves the play one way or the other.
Why is she called ‘the girl’ instead of Minnie? During class we discussed the importance of the title and why Minnie is just referred to as ‘the girl.’ It’s a degrading reference. During the time women did not have prominent roles in society. They were house wives and workers. They were not seen as the brains behind operations yet. This ties back into the fact that the sherif was willing to risk losing a criminal to make Minnie his wife. It shows how rare women were in the west during that time because of the Gold Rush and how important it was with society to have a wife.
Although there is a sappy, fairytale ending to this play, I would say that it portrays qualities of a feminist work and really discusses the gender role of women during the time.