Women Issues in “The Heidi Chronicles”
In Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, she gives us views of so many women who lead completely different lives, which they come together for the same main reason of Womanhood. This play really shows aspects of women’s lives that continue to be controversial in our modern society, and depicts the part of women’s lives that are usually kept secret as “skeletons in the closet”. This play also illustrates gender differences, how the men demand all the power, and how the women take the more passive road. In today’s society, I witness the same passiveness in our young women as in the play, and that needs to change. Wasserstein wants her audience to hear feminism issues such as: Dominant ideas of woman, relationships, learning gender, sexuality, women in politics, women fighting for equal rights and understanding and valuing difference. She wants us to see in the characters, real life instances where the choices we make in life directly affect the way we live and portray ourselves. She personally picked these characters from her real life while she was in college, and shaped them in a way that the real life person can’t deny the personalization of themselves. The characters continuously challenge on another in the aspects of motherhood and class, they all are successful in their own way. The women in the play represent the modern independent woman striving for equality amongst men.
The main character Heidi is shy, very observant, and is a pushover to her two male friends, Peter and Scoop throughout the play. The two domineering men in her life add a huge part to her success as an independent woman, as an Art Historian, and a friend to them both. Heidi is in love with the two men she can’t have, and she knows that feelings directly counteract the choices she makes. Because she receives two male points of views for everything she does, I’ve come to the conclusion that male’s views outweigh a female’s perspective. During a woman’s group meeting Heidi tells Becky “But you see Becky, the problem isn’t really him. The problem is me. I could’ve made a better choice. I allow him to make me feel valuable. And the bottom line is, I know that’s wrong. You either shave your legs or you don’t” (Wasserstein 182). Heidi is truly in search of her identity as a woman. After Scoop breaks her heart and marries Lisa, Heidi questioned him why he didn’t marry her. He says, “You want other things in life than I do, [like] self-fulfillment, self-determination, and self-exaggeration” (201). Heidi agrees with Scoops reasoning, but says, “That’s exactly what you want” (201). He responds, “Right, then you’d be competing with me” (201). Clearly the male dominance in Scoop comes out and shines his light bright, in the face of the audience. Heidi accepts his reasoning and cries to release her lover of 20 years to a woman he doesn’t even love. Subsequently, Scoop and Lisa are pregnant and Heidi goes to the baby shower and converses with Denise, Lisa’s sister, and Denise asked Heidi, “Don’t you want to have a family, Heidi” (211)? Heidi responds, “Yes, I hope so” (211), and thinks about her lost love in London. She tells the party why she didn’t get married to the man in London, and she says, “I got this job at Columbia, and he wanted to stay in London” (211). She really wants a husband and family but her career has stepped in the way too many times, but Heidi remains optimistic that she will get her Mr. Right. Heidi is heavily into woman’s art and the history behind it, that she was invited to a TV morning show interview, along with Peter and Scoop.
The three were invited because they are the baby boom generation, and are now over 30 years old their career paths and choices made throughout their journey of life, so far. Of course, Heidi was to discuss her new book and woman’s art, but when the reporter asked about her biological clock, she answered, “If you look…” (218), and she was immediately cut off by either Peter. So, the passive Heidi allowed the interruption and was asked another question about society, and Heidi says, “Well, there’s…” (218), and Peter cuts her off again. Then the reporter called on Heidi one more time for a response, and Scoop took over the interview. The interview ended and Heidi was so upset she called Peter and Scoop, “The cynic and the idealist. [And told them], you two should become regulars here” (221).
Heidi showed us that being passive and not using your “voice” can lead to feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. And, that’s why Heidi is a true activist fighting for women’s rights, and women painters of our history. She shows us both, women and men a way to use your voice and protest for what you believe in to get a positive result. The character I mostly relate to is Heidi, because of her sheer determination to obtain her major goal in life, and her willingness to walk the path of mistakes along the way. I feel that she combatted all the peer pressures of her friends, encouraging her to be a follower and take the route they chose for her life. She always remained optimistic in finding her Mr. Right, she never shut down, despite the trials and tribulations she endured with the men in her life. Heidi experiences becoming a woman, recognizing that her voice can make a change in the world, sacrificing her assumed reality of a real man versus her perception of one and has an epiphany of her life over the age of 30 years. She further experiences sexuality and the pleasures of being a woman, and she personally had a hand in decreasing the gender segregation gap. Finally, she personally realizes the career path she chose made her sacrifice a lot of life changes that could’ve happened for her in earlier years, like marriage and family. In the end, I see Heidi as a winner. She has her first stable residence, and her newborn baby to live happily ever after.