The Art of Social Criticism:

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun




Historical Context










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A Young Revolutionary Playwright

A Raisin in the Sun, a play written by Lorraine Hansberry, premiered on Broadway in 1959 as a landmark piece of African American artistry and social criticism that preempted the swell of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. At twenty-nine, Hansberry became "the youngest American, the fifth woman, and the first black playwright to win the Best Play of the Year Award of the New York Drama Critics" [1]. In the public sphere, Raisin was confronted by both accolades and criticisms because it made statement about American society and culture before it was politically popular to question norms. Hansberry's 1961 film adaptation of the play won a Cannes Film Festival Award and received a nomination for Best Screenplay [2]. Despite Hansberry's early demise in 1965 at age thirty-four, Hansberry's work, in particular Raisin, continues to be lauded by the public as groundbreaking in establishing black theatre as a part of universal American culture.

Consideration of the historical context in which the play was written and received by artists and society along with an analysis of Hansberry's complex characters and themes reveals the relevance of this writer and her noteworthy first-effort A Raisin in the Sun. This site is an overview of the social and racial atmosphere that birthed Hansberry's composition and led to its acceptance as a classic piece of literature for its chronicled and contemporary significance. Also, the central theme of dreams is analyzed through each character within the framework of Langston Hughes' poem "Montage of A Dream Deferred" which inspired the title of the play.


Hansberry 1961 Film