School of Visual and Performing Arts; College of Arts and Sciences
Gilded Age, Vanderbilt, Astor
Playwriting | United States History
Harrison, Mattea, "The Gilded Finch: An Exploration of Class Conflict" (2020). Senior Honors Theses. 1032.
Research is applied to create a play exploring the conflict between two women in the American upper class at the end of the nineteenth century. Both Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s family, wealth, and relationships were researched through studying primary and secondary accounts of their lives and times. A study of the women has produced a comprehensive picture of their motivations in their lives’ actions. The relationships between the women and their daughters has also been examined and applied. These two women are interesting characters in history to examine due to their family history and the families that they married into. The wealth that the women married into motivated them both to climb the ladder of society. Due to their personal differences and the differences in their husbands’ families, their climbs looked very different. In examining all of the topics of research relating to Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt, an answer is sought for the reason to their struggle. The Gilded Finch attempts to answer these questions in a fictionalized view of the events and interactions surrounding Mrs. Vanderbilt’s ball in March of 1883. This ball was a turning point in the polite battle between Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt. The research done on the topic allows for a fuller picture to be shown in the writing of the play.