Sean O

’Casey And Suffering Essay, Research Paper

How does Sean O’Casey make the audience appreciate that the troubles of the world are caused by men and that women pay the price of suffering? In this essay, I shall be examining the character and actions of some of the males in the play. This will enable me to then assess the impact which each of them have on their female counterparts. I think that this quote summarises one of the main themes of the play – Act III line 722 Juno “Ah, what can God do agen the stupidity o’ men?” First of all, I shall examine the flaws in the character of Boyle, and how he affects the lives of Mrs. Madigan, Juno Boyle, and Mary Boyle. . . Boyle Boyle is constantly wears Juno down. He saps her strength, and makes her life a misery. Juno has to hound Boyle from the time when he arrives back from Always messing her about. Juno is never shore of when he will come waltzing in from off the street (drunk most probably) – Act I lines 49 – 50 Mrs. Boyle “Oh, he’ll come in when he likes; struttin’ about the town like a paycock with Joxer, I suppose.” The announcement that some money was entering the Boyle family prompted Bolyes selfishness to go into overdrive. Although the Boyle family had not received the first cheque, Boyle still continued to spend and splash out on expensive food and goods by borrowing off ‘friends’ and neighbours’. Juno though is a little more cautious and advises her husband to stop spending the money, just until the first cheque arrives. Later on in the play when Boyle realises the money is not gracing it with it’s presence, Juno is put under further emotional stress as one more trouble is piled up on the already disastrously huge heap. This all because of the stupidity of Boyle. Sensibly Juno after defending Boyle for many, many years packs up and leaves along with Mary. This leaves Boyle bearing the brunt of his stupidity, but that is another story. Due to Boyles laziness and stubbornness he will not gain employment and neither does he want too. This puts further strain on Juno and her wages as he drinks and maybe gambles it away. May be it is the drink that makes him like this? Only Sean O’Casey knows – Act I lines 413 – 414, 419 – 421, 423 – 424 Mrs. Boyle “It’s miraculous that whenever he scents a job in front of him, his legs begin to fail him!” Boyle “How d’ye expect me to be able to go up a ladder with these legs? An, if I get up aself, how am I goin’ to get down agen?” Mrs. Boyle “You can’t climb a laddher, but you can skip like a goat into a snug!” Boyle, uncaring to all of his disrespectful family, (I wonder why) especially towards Mary and Juno – Act III line 391 Mrs. Boyle “You’ll say nothin’ to her, Jack; ever since she left school she’s earned her livin’, an’ your fatherly care never throubled the poor girl.” At the only point in the play when Mary desperately needed support due to reasons relating to her pregnancy, Boyle had only spiteful words which were full of indifference and hatred. He had no positive thoughts for her. Most men would have seen Mary through this view, but unfortunately this was the way men thought in those troubled times. The two thousand pounds inheritance was most probably the catalyst which initiated Boyle’s selfishness in the latter half of the play. Either the inheritance making him feel good or bad it prompted some sort of stupid behaviour. From the point when Boyle learned that he was to inherit some money, to the time when he discovered the truth about the money, he was affected in a drastic way and he in turn, affected his family. Johnny Johnny uses his injuries and supposed “sickness” as an excuse to make other people run around after him and do things for him, such as his asking Juno for a glass of water when he could just have well got it for himself. – Act I lines 81 – 83 Voice of Johnny “Mother!” Mrs. Boyle “Yis?” Voice of Johnny “Bring us in a dhrink o’ wather.” Johnny is generally bad-tempered towards his mother, constantly asking her to do small tasks for him such as, – Act II lines 649 – 650 Johnny “Are yous goin to put on th’ gramophone tonight, or are yous not?” This wears Juno down, makes her more irritable, and ensures she is nearly always in a bad frame of mind. Johnny causes Mrs. Tancred a lot of grief, even though she doesn’t know he killed her son out of jealousy and spite. (Johnny was a quartermaster, and Tancred the Commandant ). – Act I lines 34 – 35, 50 – 60 Mary (looking at the paper) “On a little bye-road, out beyant Finglas, he was found.” — Mrs. Boyle . . .”I hear all about Mrs. Tancred’s son in this mornin’s paper.” Mary “The full details are in it this mornin’; severe wounds he had – one entherin’ the neck, with an exit wound beneath the left shoulder-blade; another in the left breast penethratin’ the heart, an’. . .” Johnny (springing up from the fire). “Oh, quit that readin’, for God’s sake! Are yous losin’ all your feelin’s? It’ll soon be that none of jous ‘ll read anythin’ that’s not about butcherin’!” Johnny is another man who relies on a woman to bring to him all that he needs. He relies on Juno to shield him from his own immense guilt when he imagines that he sees Tancred (Robbie) – the man he murdered), kneeling before the statue of St. Anthony in his room with the – Act II, lines 287-288, lines 288-289 Johnny . . .”wouns bleedin’ in his breast” “Oh, why did he look at me like that?” again, more guilt showing. “Mother o’ God, keep him away from me.” Notice Johnny doesn’t call up to God Almighty or Jesus Christ – both males, but to the ‘Mother o’ God’. Here, Johnny is Calling up to God, but this is also a cry for help to his mother, Juno. Johnny cries – Act III, lines 630 – 631 Johnny “Mother o’ God, the light’s afther goin’ out! This is another cry for help, also addressed to the Mother of God, and not to then other possibilities outlined above. Johnny is a very insensitive individual towards most other people in the play that he encounters. Take Mary’s pregnancy as an example of this. Johnny says, – Act III, lines 416-417 Johnny “She should be dhriven out o’ th’ house, she’s brought disgrace on!” Johnny demonstrates his insensitivity further when he blames the fact that the furniture has been taken away on poor Mary. She must have been in a complete state of turmoil, expecting her life to be in tatters. Johnny makes her take another great load on her shoulders – Act III, lines 619 – 623 Johnny “Oh, isn’t this terrible! . . . I suppose you told him everything. . . couldn’t you have waited for a few days? . . . he’d have stopped th’ takin’ of the things, if you’d kep your mouth shut. Are you burnin’ to tell everyone of the shame you’ve brought on us?” Jerry Devine Jerry Devine deserts Mary when he learns that she’s pregnant. He displays the same narrow-minded morals and attitudes as Johnny Boyle and the “Captain” (Jack Boyle). All of his high-sounding ideals do nothing for Mary in her time of greatest need. Jerry Devine speaks a lot of empty words – Act III, lines 546 – 548, and lines 571 – 575 Jerry “Your mother has told me everything, Mary, and I have come to tell you, Mary, that my love for you is greater and deeper than ever. . .” — Jerry (poignantly) “Surely to God, Mary, you don’t mean that. . . that. . . that” Mary “Now you know all, Jerry; now you know all!” Jerry “My God, Mary, have you fallen as low as that?” Mary “Yes, Jerry, as you say, I have fallen as low as all that.” A quote from the time before Jerry had learnt that Mary was pregnant – Act I, lines 466 – 468 Jerry “The job’s worth three hundred an’ fifty pounds a year, Mary. You an’ I could live nice an’ cosily on that; it would lift you out o’ this place an’. . .” Joxer Joxer does not bring about any direct influence on any of the characters in the play, but aids Boyle in his ways. He is a terrible weight on Boyle’s shoulder (Boyle is too dense to notice this) and at the heart of Boyle’s troubles is Joxer, always stirring things up – Act I lines 194 – 198 Mrs. Boyle “There’ll never be any good got out o’ him so long as he goes with that shouldher-shruggin’ Joxer. I killin’ meself workin’, an’ he sthruttin’ about from mornin’ till night like a paycock!” Bentham The Rough Voice The owner of the voice doesn’t appreciate that Juno and Mary need time to digest the news that Johnny is dead before coming to see him – Act III, lines 735 -736 Rough voice from below “Are yous goin’ to keep us waitin’ for yous all night?” I believe that this symbolises the arrogance of men, and their attitude of impatience towards the women of Ireland at that time. Both plays involve some form of sacrifice made by the women of the story. In “Juno and the Paycock” , Mary loses much of her social integrity and credibility to Bentham when she becomes pregnant, and in “Shadow of a Gunman” , Minnie Powell loses her life for Donal Dovoran, her sweetheart, who was won under false pretences, by her running away and out of Donal’s dwelling with a case which was full of hand grenades (Mill’s bombs). She (Minnie Powell) was then caught, thereby freeing Donal of any slight implication. Minnie was later executed by the “Black an’ Tans”, a group of fiercely Protestant Scotsmen. She didn’t just lose her social credibility, but she lost her life. There are also very clear similarities between Adolphus Grigson and his wife, and Jack Boyle, and his wife Juno. Adolphus is a poseur, and a wife – beater, while Jack Boyle isn’t much better. Boyle too is a poseur, and although he doesn’t actually beat his wife, he worries her a great deal, and causes her a lot of anxiety. He also ruins the remainder of whatever life which she might have possessed. Mrs. Grigson represents the oppressed female of the story in “Shadow of a Gunman”, and Juno does to a much greater extent in “Juno and the Paycock”. A contrasting point though is that women are the heroines in each of the two plays. What is also very interesting is that a male actually composed “Juno and the Paycock”, and not a member of the opposite sex, as one might well imagine.


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