The Contrast is the first professional American drama that shows how the contrasts can be used in the play`s genre, that is, comedy. The play is repeatedly concerned with showing the difference between England and America. Its character, for instance, shows the contrast between them. Colonel Henry Manly is a gentlemen, patriot, hero, and sincere. His persona therefore, represents America. Different with Colonel Manly, Mr. Billy Dimple represents England because he went there upon the death of his father and he went back to America bringing English morals and values.
Moreover, we can see the contrast between other characters as well. Charlotte, Colonel Manly`s sister, has different characters with Colonel Manly. Charlotte is merry and carefree while Colonel Manly is serious and rigid. She says,
[Colonel Manly] is the very counterpart and reverse of me: I am gay, he is grave; I am airy, he is solid; I am ever selecting the most pleasing objects for my laughter, he has a tear for every pitiful one. And thus, whilst he is plucking the briars and thorns from the path of the unfortunate, I am strewing my own path with roses (1303).
We also can see another contrast between Maria Van Rough, Daughter of Van Rough, and Mr. Billy Dimple. First, we get that Maria went to her book for amusement while Dimple went to England to see the world. Second, Maria realizes the contrast between the book she read and the letter Dimple sent where her books have good sense while Dimple`s letters do not. His letter, instead, is written without wit and generosity. Therefore, Maria finally recognizes that the one who are sincere with their love is only herself while Dimple is just superficial. All of them are hinted by Letitia:
Upon the death of his father, Billy went to England to see the world and rub off a little of the patroon rust. During his absence, Maria, like a good girl, to keep herself constant to her nown true-love, avoided company, and betook herself, for her amusement, to her books, and her dear Billy’s letters. But, alas! How many ways has the mischievous demons of inconstancy of stealing into a woman’s heart! Her love was destroyed by the very means she took to support it.
…she read Sir Charles Grandison, Clarissa Hrlowe, Shenstone, and the Sentimental Journey… (1296-7)
In addition, the waiters in The Contrast display some distinctions as well. Jonathan has distinguished between waiter and servant. He is innocent, patriotic, and straight forward. He has blundering and talkative when saying. Differ with him, Jessamy is snobbish. He is also courtly and accomplished when doing something. Hence, Jonathan and Jessamy are like their master. They represent the contrast between America and England as well. It is clearly illustrated when Jonathan does not understand what Jessamy said and when Jonathan argued that servant and waiter are different while Jessamy do not (1308-10).
Consequently, all the contrasts have given a big contribution to the play`s genre, that is, comedy.
However, The Contrast is not only gave contribution to the genre but also to American Drama. The play represents the revolution of American drama and therefore it makes the contrast among America, New England, Europe, and London in that era. The Contrast shows how American Drama can be different with another kind of drama at the time. There is no doubt that The Contrast has successfully proved that the contrast can be used in comedy. Hence, the first time it appeared, “the drama had met with few friends, and but little favor”.
The first impression of the play, in a way, is similar with the Declaration of Independence. After both of them happened, they bring “about in this country [America] a completer revolution… [for the Independence of America and]… the drama and theatrical amusements.” They, indeed, became a catalyst for the stigma against the theater at the time. There were laws against all theatrical amusements. Therefore, people were kept away from them by fear executed. Nevertheless, everything has change directly after the production of The Contrast. People started to change their radical opinion and became respect to drama. It is the revolution.
The Contrast used the form of satire to criticize Americans who mimic British. The form has a function as constructive social criticism. The play tends to show what happen to American in different ways and uses a humorous manner as a way to make the play interesting. Therefore, after seeing The Contrast, people not only will be amused but also think that the play has some message to criticize them into improvement. This is the contrast between the play and another satire play. Another satire play only ridicule without giving criticizes and these are the shortcomings that The Contrast wants to change. Hence, after The Contrast held, everything has changed. It is the revolution.