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The Proposal


How to solve people’s problems by marrying them

In a NYC corporation, a servant boy & his boss are to marry. He does his job, but resents her bitchiness. Apparently, he cannot suppose he deserves what he desires. – He admits both his ambition & his boss’s excellence. You might say, therefore: he wants to be her, except he likes himself; – or he wants to be with her, except she is unlikable.

This is too vague to solve, so we have a plot. She will be deported for being Canadian; she needs citizenship to remain in NYC, so she proposes to bully him into marriage. He returns the favor by conditioning marriage on promotion. He also makes her publicly kneel & ask for his hand in marriage; then he makes her act like she means it. Love’s ways are strange. If women boss men around, they will have to be chivalrous, too. Both are equally funny to the comic poet.

The joke is conditioning staying in America on citizenship. Apparently, the comic poet knows how debased American citizenship is nowadays. He dislikes this & proposes to ennoble it. After all, staying in America requires citizenship only for Americans who truly believe in America & choose to live the American life. His justice does not stop here: he ties citizenship to family, for otherwise self-interest would eventually become impossible to curb. Now, he must show that family is happiness. Strangely, he mocks liberals’ greatest self-delusion to accomplish this: New Yorkers. Alaska is to NYC something close to what the forest is to the city in a Shakespearean comedy.

But what does being Canadian mean? Not geography: the boy himself is from Alaska, but you would not know, to look at him. He is unmanly; besides, Americans are American even in Alaska. Nobody can tell the woman is Canadian from looking at her, either. Canada is unimportant, except in American politics: conservatives don’t like liberals’ bringing it up in American politics. In short, Canada is liberalism; the comic poet proposes to cure liberal women of liberalism, by delivering what they need & want. In a comedy, this is not what they think they’re getting. He proposes to make her American.

The woman learns womanhood only in Alaska, & from an old grandmother. The boy faces manhood & family there – he is not spontaneously a New Yorker. We see the poet mocking the Alaskans: but he approves of them. He mocks New Yorkers seriously, however. NYC cannot teach happiness, because it fails to grasp human nature. Now, human nature is not American, but it might be that nature can only teach those Americans who are really American. In fact, you may wonder what brings an Alaskan boy to NYC.

One of the best romantic comedies of recent years. See it.