What makes a Person “Ruined”?

In class we discussed the play Ruined by Lynn Nottage and the themes that are covered in the play. While discussing we started talking about title of the play and what it could possibly mean. The play takes place in a war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and it was suggested in our class discussion that the term “ruined” in the title could refer to the ruins left by the war. It was also suggested that “ruined” was used to refer to the women in the brothel. This led me to think about what it meant for a person to be ruined. The term ruined is often used to describe things that are permanently useless. It is hard for me to think of a person as being ruined because often times in life we are taught that nobody is truly useless. The women of the brothel might have been considered ruined because of their intended purpose. The women of Mama Nadi’s brothel were treated as objects rather than people and they were used to offer “pleasure” to those who purchased their services. In this way, they could be ruined by anything that kept them from providing their services. Pregnancy, disease and other similar circumstances could make the  women “ruined” because they would no longer be able to be used. In class we also discussed the possibility of women who have lost their virginity as being ruined. In many ways virginity is seen to make a women “pure” and pure women are supposedly more valuable. In that way a woman losing her virginity could “ruin” her because she would no longer be pure and valuable. 

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