How Is the 'Tragic Mulatto' Literary Trope Defined?

 

tragic mulatto in literature

The trope of the tragic mulatto has existed since 19th century American literature. Evolved from the one-drop-rule, an extension of white-supremacy’s attempt at controlling and policing blackness, this trope perpetuated racist stereotypes of blackness following emancipation and pausinivs.gq: Stephaniestclair. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) Fellow Paula Barnes says that according to many critics, Wells Brown’s portrayal of these women introduced into African American literature the so-called tragic mulatto. But Barnes sees something in Brown’s characters beyond what, in subsequent years, became a stereotypical representation of. In literature, such mulattoes were often unaware of their black heritage. Such is the case in Kate Chopin's short story "Désirée's Baby" in which an aristocrat weds a woman of unknown lineage. The story, however, is a twist on the tragic mulatto trope.


Tragic mulatto - Wikipedia


To understand the meaning of the literary trope "tragic mulatto," tragic mulatto in literature must first understand the definition of mulatto, tragic mulatto in literature. It is an outdated and, many would argue, offensive term used to describe someone with one black parent and one white parent.

The comparison of a biracial human being to the sterile offspring of a tragic mulatto in literature and a horse was widely acceptable through even the midth century but today is considered objectionable for obvious reasons. Terms such as biracial, tragic mulatto in literature, mixed-race or half-black are commonly used instead. The tragic mulatto myth dates back to 19th century American literature.

The myth almost exclusively focuses on biracial individuals, especially women, light enough to pass for white. In literature, such mulattoes were often unaware of their black heritage. The story, however, is a twist on the tragic mulatto trope. Typically white characters who discover their African ancestry become tragic figures because they find themselves barred from white society and, thus, tragic mulatto in literature, the privileges available to whites.

Distraught at their fate as people of color, tragic mulattoes in literature often turned to suicide. In other instances, these characters pass for white, cutting off their black family members to do so. Kohner of Mexican and Czech Jewish ancestry plays Sarah Jane Johnson, a young woman who looks white but sets out to cross the color line, even if it means disowning her loving mother, Annie.

The film makes it clear that tragic mulatto characters are not only to be pitied but, in some ways, loathed. While Sarah Jane is portrayed as selfish and wicked, Annie is portrayed as saint-like, and the white characters largely indifferent to both of their struggles. In addition to tragic, mulattoes in film and literature have frequently been depicted as sexually seductive Sarah Jane works in gentlemen's clubseffeminate or otherwise troubled because of their mixed blood.

Generally, these characters suffer insecurity about their place in the world. Langston Hughes' poem "Cross" exemplifies this:. More recent literature about racial identity flips the tragic mulatto stereotype on its head. Danzy Senna's novel "Caucasia" features a young protagonist who can pass for white but takes pride in her blackness. Her dysfunctional tragic mulatto in literature wreak more havoc in her life than her feelings about her identity do.

Tragic mulatto in literature tragic mulatto myth perpetuates the idea that miscegenation the mixing of races is unnatural and harmful to the children produced by such unions.

Rather than blame racism for the challenges biracial people face, the tragic mulatto myth holds race-mixing responsible. Yet, there is no biological argument to support the tragic mulatto myth. Biracial people aren't likely to be sickly, emotionally unstable or otherwise affected because their parents belong to different racial groups.

Given that scientists acknowledge that race is a social construct and not a biological category, there's no evidence that biracial or multiracial people were "born to be hurt," as miscegenation foes have long claimed. On the other hand, the idea that mixed-race people are somehow superior to others--more healthy, beautiful tragic mulatto in literature intelligent--is also controversial.

The concept of hybrid vigor, or heterosis, is questionable when applied to plants and animals, and there's no scientific basis for its application to human beings.

Geneticists generally do not support the idea of genetic superiority, especially because this concept has led to discrimination against people from a wide range of racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Biracial people may not be genetically superior or inferior to any other group, but their numbers are growing in the United States. Mixed-race children are among the fastest growing population in the country. Rising numbers of multiracial people don't mean that these individuals lack challenges.

As long as racism exists, mixed-race people will face some form of bigotry. Share Flipboard Email. Government U. Foreign Policy U. Liberal Politics U. Nadra Kareem Nittle has written about education, race, and cultural issues for a variety of publications including the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and Change. My old man's a white old man And my old mother's black. If ever I cursed my white old man I take my curses back.

If ever I cursed my black old mother And wished she were in hell, I'm sorry for that evil wish And now I wish her well. My old man died in a fine big house. My ma died in a shack. I wonder where I'm gonna die, Being neither white nor black?

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tragic mulatto in literature – Cinemulatto

 

tragic mulatto in literature

 

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) Fellow Paula Barnes says that according to many critics, Wells Brown’s portrayal of these women introduced into African American literature the so-called tragic mulatto. But Barnes sees something in Brown’s characters beyond what, in subsequent years, became a stereotypical representation of. The tragic mulatto was more myth than reality; Dandridge was an exception. The mulatto was made tragic in the minds of whites who reasoned that the greatest tragedy was to be near-white: so close, yet a racial gulf away. The near-white was to be pitied -- and shunned. William Wells Brown and the Tragic Mulatto. Erica Prosser [1] William Wells Brown is often credited as the first to introduce the infamous figure of the "tragic mulatto" into American literature. In the first African American novel, Clotel; or the President's Daughter (), Brown tells the tale of Currer, alleged slave mistress to Thomas Jefferson, and her two mulatto daughters, Althesa and.