Grief In Michael Cristofer's The Shadow Box

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The Shadow Box, Michael Cristofer’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning play, takes place in a hospice center, and observes the events that take place with three different families over twenty-four hours. Each family is dealing with the fact that one of their loved ones has been declared terminal, but despite the morbid subject matter, Cristofer does not let his play become about death waiting for us all; he instead uses his work to convey the message that people need to be hopeful in the face of bleak situations and use the time they have to the fullest. In order to help convey the real theme of his play, Cristofer incorporates psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ theory explaining the five stages of grief into his script, allowing the actions and dialogue to shape the theme. My proof for this proposal comes in three…show more content…
In contrast, Carey Wallace paints Brian’s actions in a much more negative way. Rather than seeing him as someone who has completely resigned to their fate and is making the most of it, Wallace gives her opinion that his “‘acceptance’ is a smokescreen” used to hide his fears, and that intellectual approach to death Kelly describes as a form of denial “or at least a form of bargaining” (Wallace 1). There is a clear difference between these two ladies’ points of view. Kelley sees Brian on a slightly more surface level, and draws the opinion that he has completely accepted and been invigorated by his fate, while Wallace attempts to read into the subtext of the lines, getting the impression that Brian is using a bravado of thoughts and words to “know and control [death]” (Wallace 1). Having both read The Shadow Box and played the role of Brian myself, my view on the matter is a mix of these two opinions.

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