August Wilson and Neil Simon: Domestic Goddesses

1. Introduction

Both August Wilson and Neil Simon made their female characters Rose Maxson and Kate Jerome domestic goddesses devoted to their families and focused on well-being of every member. Nevertheless, there are several differences in the way these writers presented their mothers/daughters. In this essay, I will compare and contrast these two literary works in order to answer the question how these writers used their female characters to reveal universal values.

2. August Wilson and Neil Simon: Domestic Goddesses

To begin with, it is necessary to say a few words about the authors. Neil Simon is an American playwright and screenwriter who became famous for his comedies such as Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues. As for August Wilson, he is also an American playwright whose plays Fences and The Piano Lesson won Pulitzer Prizes. Unlike Simon, Wilson’s plays are mostly focused on African American experience and culture. Nevertheless, both authors created strong female characters who devoted their lives to their families.

Rose Maxson from Fences is a 53-year-old woman who has been married to Troy Maxson for 18 years. She is a housewife and mother of two sons from her husband’s previous marriage. Although she loves her husband, she is not afraid to express her opinion and often criticizes him. For example, when Troy tells her about his affair with Alberta, Rose gets angry and says that he is not a man but a “weak little boy” (Wilson 67). Nevertheless, she still forgives him because she cannot imagine her life without him.

Kate Jerome from Brighton Beach Memoirs is also a housewife and mother of two sons. However, unlike Rose, she is very submissive to her husband Eddie and almost never criticizes him. Kate is much younger than her husband – she is only 35 years old while he is already 50. That is why Eddie always calls her “kid” or “little girl” (Simon 79). Although she loves her husband, she feels that he does not understand her because he always talks about baseball while she would like to discuss other topics.

As we can see, both Rose and Kate are domestic goddesses who devote their lives to their families. Nevertheless, there are several significant differences between them. First of all, they have different attitudes towards their husbands. While Rose often criticizes Troy, Kate never does that with Eddie. Secondly, they have different relationships with their children. While Rose loves all her children equally, Kate prefers her older son Stan because he is more obedient than his younger brother Eugene. Finally, they have different personalities. While Rose is a strong and independent woman, Kate is more submissive and passive.

3. Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be said that both August Wilson and Neil Simon used their female characters to reveal universal values such as love, family, and loyalty. Although these values are presented in different ways in each play, they are still recognizable and relatable for every reader.


The main themes of each play vary, but typically revolve around family dynamics, love, and loss.

The characters in each play deal with difficult situations in a variety of ways, depending on the specific situation they are facing. Some characters may try to resolve their issues through discussion and communication, while others may resort to more extreme measures such as violence or even suicide.

The overall message of each play varies depending on the specific story being told, but often explores the idea that despite the challenges life may present, it is still worth living.