Carousel and The Sound Of Music: Oscar Hammerstein?s Musicals Essay

Are Oscar Hammerstein’s musicals characters in Carousel and The Sound of

Music a true representation of women and family structure in the period they were

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Between 1945 and 1959 Oscar Hammerstein wrote two hit musicals Carousel and

The Sound Of Music In this independent project, I argue that despite their different

time settings these two musicals explore social issues of the day, including women’s

rights and transmuting roles in America’s culture, sometimes directly and sometime

obliquely. Women’s activism and the development of feminism can be seen as a

response to the previous years of domestic ideology and its contradictions. Within

14 years Hammerstein charted the liberation of women and their role in the family.

Both Carousel and The Sound of Music can be seen as an adversarial response to

this feminism.

These shows establish women of their times and their need for stability from their

family, emotionally and the men they were surrounded by. Carousel represents

that previously women had very little say in society and were stereotyped to stay

home, make babies, be a good homemaker and wife. Whereas in The Sound of

Music represents the ideological aggression against feminism, the belief that all

people, particularly women are entitled to freedom.


No one name is more admired in the field of American musical theatre than Oscar

Hammerstein II.

Himself and Richard Rodgers originated the development of the joining of

dialogue, music, and lyrics within the musical structure. They helped increase the

importance of dance by their revolutionary work with ballet with Agnes DeMille

and Jerome Robbins. Hammerstein was among the first writer to “normal” people

as major characters in his shows and not the standard prince and p…

…haracters spoke their minds against Billy’s

abuses, even Julie herself, the victim of her husband’s rage. When he commits

suicide Julie bewails his death, but also touches on the man he had turned into

“It was wicked of you to hit me… on the breast and on the head and face… but

you’re gone now. (She sits next to him and touches his face.) You treated me

badly; that was wicked of you. But sleep peacefully, Liliom… you bad, bad boy,

you. I love you.”).

The scene when the audience aurally recognize that Billy is Violent towards Julie

in Carousel presented few but crucial differences with the original work by


In Liliom, it is Julie herself who confesses Liliom’s abuses and somehow

condemns them. In the musical Rodgers and Hammerstein introduced the

character of cousin Nettie.

“Nettie: You know something else, Carrie? Last Monday, he hit her.

Julie: Nettie!

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