Characters in “August: Osage County” by Tracy Letts Essay (Article)

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

The play “August: Osage County” by Tracy Letts is undoubtedly rich in text. The characters have been developed in a very compelling manner. The way they have been presented criticizes the American society in this current age. The main characters in the play, the Weston family, have outstanding personalities. Besides being overly sensitive, the Weston family is for clever members. Their unity is coupled with destructive and supportive engagements. In this essay, I am going to focus on the character profiles of the main characters in the play. The main characters are the Weston family members. I will also discuss the themes in the play.

The Weston family has five members and a housekeeper who lives with them. Individual members of this family have distinct personalities. They influence each other with their mannerisms. Beverly Weston is the Father of the home. He has three daughters who are over 40 years of age. He is married to Violet. He is an outstanding intellectual who at one time was a world class poet. He has a chronic habit of alcoholism. Though polite, he is emotional and miserable. These mournful and dejected characters have ultimately made Beverly suicidal.

Violet Weston is the wife of Beverly. She is a conniving woman. After the death of his her husband, she is depressed. To keep herself going, she turns to pills and pain killers. She eventually gets addicted to the drugs. She later learns that her mouth has cancer. Despite her affliction, Violet does not desist from her scornful and evil abuse.

The first daughter of Violet Weston is Barbara Fordham. In the entire play, she is seen to be making great efforts to maintain sanity in their family. She is a mother to a 14 year old girl. She is strong and caring. Her mother was unruly and she took it upon herself to contain her. Her marriage was falling apart and her daughter was smoking pot. Barbara consistently tried to bring sanity to their lives.

Ivy Weston is the second daughter of Violet Weston. She is reserved but a timid stereotype (Letts 137). She has had to contend with her mother’s outrage for a long time since she lived closer to her home. Despite her calm outlook, she conceals so much dirt. She has kept a secret love affair with her cousin (Letts 124).

The youngest daughter is Karen Weston. She yields to self pity and moves away from their family to live in Florida in pursuit of happiness (Letts 144). She claims her adult life has been miserable. She later returns with a 50 year old businessperson as her fiancé. The man later turns out to be hateful in the drama.

Hired by Beverly, Johnna Monevata is the housekeeper of the Weston home. Beverly disappeared a few days after hiring her. She says that her stay in that home was because she needed the job. She is stable and upright morally. She is also considerate. There are occasions when she has saved the day for the family members.

Lessons in the play “August: Osage County”

In the entire play, there are several messages that are relayed. For instance, it was with an intention that the writer had the housekeeper as a Native-American. It created a fragile relationship with the Caucasians, which was as a result of the century old unfairness that occurred in Oklahoma City. There are many lessons that we learn from the play “August: Osage County”. The majority of the themes of the play is based on gender.

Most evident in the play, is the mother daughter love-hate relationship. There is a higher tendency for them to inflict harm on each other either vocally or physically. In Act One, Barbara is consistently sought after by her mother for emotional support whenever there is a controversy in the family. Despite her dependence on her daughter Barbara, Violet torments her continually on her failures in life. She outlines the failures of Barbara; her dilapidated marriage, faded beauty and how much old age has caught up with her. Barbara has never wanted these flaws to be mentioned. In response, Barbara halts her mother’s addiction to pills. A power play ensues, Barbara goes ahead to mobilize the entire family to contain her mother’s habits. In Act Two, Barbara claims victory in their power play. During the “family dinner from hell,” Barbara’s declaration that she was running things showed the tussle of might that existed between them.

The other theme that we learn from Letts’ play, “August: Osage County”, is that of two categories of husbands. On one hand, there are those who are easily manipulated and are unmotivated. While on the other hand, there those undependable and sexually loose husbands. Beverly Weston, Violet’s husband lies in the first category of husbands. He is only seen at the beginning of the play. In his interaction with his wife, it is evident that he is content with his wife’s addiction to drugs. Despite the fact that communication with his wife has deteriorated, he is not willing to do anything about it. Instead, he soaks himself in alcohol to a point where his zeal for life is out.

Charles, brother-in-law to Beverly is also resigned and docile. He steps out of a marriage after forty years of tolerating an obnoxious wife. Even though he makes up his mind about leaving the marriage, he still is not resolved. He wonders why the Weston family is at war with itself. But he does not see that he has suffered for far too long in that marriage.

Charles son, Little Charles, is the docile kind. He is naïve and sluggish. Ironically, his cousin and lover Ivy find him desirable. This may be because he is unlike Barbara’s husband. Bill, Barbara’s husband, is crafty and irresponsibly sexually oriented. He leaves his wife for younger women. Though a college professor, he has sexual engagements with his students. Steve is the fiancé to Karen. He too is a sexual predator who targets the young and immature girls. Bill and Steve are both engaged in a relationship, but have other multiple sexual interactions.

The other lesson we learn from the play is that of wishful thinking. The majority of the characters in the play fear solitude yet do not want to relate intimately. This has caused them sadness and eventually loneliness. Violet’s daughters were victims of this vice. Their ages are advanced yet they were still living with their parents. This is what Violet, their mother, to keep haunting Barbara about her advanced age. Throughout the play, we see that every character got what they deserved. Those who did well had goodness come their way.

In conclusion, I can say that the lessons derived from the play were tagged on the characters in the play.

Works Cited

Letts, Tracy. “August: Osage County”. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2008. Print.

Read more