Discuss the representation of women in relation to the tension between containment and escape in two plays on the course. ‘Throughout the course of the twentieth century, theatre in Ireland has been a highly charged and controversial space of cultural enactment regarding notions of women and gender. ‘ (Shirr, Melissa, ‘Introduction: Figures at the Window: Women in Irish Drama, Palaver, 2009, app. Print. ) This is most certainly reflected in the representation of women in relation to the tension between containment and escape in both ‘Ourselves Alone’ by Anne
Devils and ‘Sieve’ by John B Kane. The female characters in both plays constantly feel an element of confinement in their lives and long for the feeling of freedom and autonomy. Sieve, Fried, Josses and Donna are all repressed and dominated by the male characters in their lives, and as a result of this, are unable to reach their full potential and lead content and fulfilling lives. Both ‘Ourselves Alone’ and ‘Sieve’ deal with patriarchal and male dominated societies and as a result, successfully portray the everyday struggles that females had to endure.
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In ‘Ourselves Alone’ Devils reveals hat Women in Ireland today are no more and no less than adjuncts to the lives of husbands, lovers and fathers. ‘ (Gussy, Mel, ‘Stage: Woman as Adjuncts in Ourselves Alone, From Ireland, The New York Times, 1987, up 1, Print. ) This strong statement is an extremely accurate depiction of how women are viewed by men and by society as a whole. They are simply aids and supports to the controlling men in their lives. All four female protagonists in both plays are constantly searching for their own voice, identity and agency.
It is necessary to examine and discuss the Journey in which Sieve, Fried, Josses and Donna undergo in both ‘Ourselves Alone’ and ‘Sieve’ and understand how they are each represented in relation to the tension between containment and escape. The concept of repression flows heavily throughout ‘Ourselves Alone’ and ‘Sieve’. Whether the female characters are being oppressed by political situations, their families or the males in their life, their constant struggle is evident. The female protagonists are repeatedly and brutally manipulated by the male fugues in their lives.
In ‘Ourselves Alone’, Devils carefully depicts three women’s lives during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the problems they are forced to face every day. It is presumed that during this time in history that a woman’s only duty was to support her partner. The struggles which women were facing as a result of this confinement and suppression, did not appear to matter. The focus was solely on men. Devils was clearly interested in how politics and geography affected women and as result this became a key concept and theme throughout her work. Malay, Kelly, ‘Disembodiment and the Re-numbering of Female Identity in the Plays of Anne Devils’, A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews, Volvo. 25, No. 1, 19-23, 2012, app, Print. ) ‘Ourselves Alone’ reveals that political and social factors, as well as male oppression, can most definitely prevent females from having a voice and being heard in Irish society. Male supremacy forces the female characters to live their lives in accordance with the desires and wishes of their partners. Ultimately, this imprisons them in a confined domestic life. Williams, Caroline, ‘This One is For the Sisters’, Theatre Ireland, Volvo 31, 1993, app) Josses is so utterly blinded by romance and the idea of love Irish Theatre Drama Essay By Managerial 23 that she fails to see how she is being used and manipulated by Catchall. He takes full advantage of her good, kind nature and naivety in an attempt to control and contain her. Similarly, Josses finds herself in an unfair and unjust situation singing patriotic songs, which glorify men and their bravery: ‘armored cars and tanks and guns, came to take away our sons, every man should stand beside the men behind the wire. (Devils, Anne, ‘Ourselves Alone’, Faber and Faber, 1987, up 13. ) As Fried’s political role is tremendously limited, she is expected to sing nationalistic songs to lordly the men in society and their devotion to their country. This is a tool used by the male controlled Irish society to monitor females political and in some ways, social lives. (Malay, Kelly, ‘Disembodiment and the Re-numbering of Female Identity in the Plays of Anne Devils’, app. ) Donna’s life has been put on hold as she anxiously awaits her husband’s release from prison.
These three women’s lives are monopolized by masculine fugues, and unfortunately they struggle they constantly experience the feeling of containment, restraint and suppression. They spend their lives longing for mom form of freedom and sovereignty, which unfortunately only ever becomes a reality for Fried. ‘Sieve’ also deals with a young, innocent female protagonist who falls victim to suppression and domination, and as a result, longs for some route of escapism.
Kane is successful in ‘attempting to fathom female identity in Irish society in his play ‘Sieve’ and accurately illustrates the life of many Irish women at this time in Ireland. (End Yuk, ‘The Feminine Mystique in Irish Theatre: John B. Snake’s Portrayal of Women’, The Harp, Volvo. 9, 1994, IPPP, Print. ) Born an illegitimate child, it s evident from the outset Sieve will be faced with a constant struggle. Those whom she lives with, Mike, his wife Mean and Nana are selfish in how they raise her ad treat her.
It is questionable whether or not any of her family ever have her best interests at heart. Kane explores social realism in his attempt at telling the story of Sieve’s life and the events that occur. (Ruche, Anthony, Kane, John B, Barnes, Ben, Theatre Ireland, Volvo. 31, 1989, app. Print. ) While exemplifying an ‘expression of womanhood’ through the use of the female central character Sieve, Kane depicts a fife of oppression and a complete lack of escapism. The rules and regulations that Sieve must obey in Mesa’s household undeniably create an enclosed and contained form of life for Sieve.
Nana’s disbelief in education means Sieve is forced into a life of strenuous work in the hope of becoming a farmer’s wife, something which she does not want at all. This, coupled together with the childish way that Sieve is treated and the fact that Nana continuously keeps information about her mother and father from her: ‘Grand all I know about my mother is that she died when I was a baby. Anytime Vive asked questions about her you’ve all put me off and told me you didn’t know or you had forgotten… And my father. ‘ (Kane, John B, Sieve, 1959, IPPP, Print. Until Nana eventually decides to give some answers to Sieve regarding her parent’s life and their personalities, Sieve is restricted from being happy and fulfilled, as she is not fully informed of who she is and where she came from. This furthermore leads to her feeling contained and limited. The women in both ‘Ourselves Alone’ and ‘Sieve’ are faced with situations that make them extremely unhappy and uncomfortable. These situations, in turn, restrict and infinite them, preventing them from reaching their full potential. This can be seen in the frustrations that Donna, Fried and Josses suffer from as a result of the male figures in their lives.
The most significant of these torments is the sexual frustrations they feel as a result of constantly waiting for male attention: Men fight and women wait – and while they wait, they act as couriers and clerks, wives, mothers and mistresses. ‘ (Gussy, Mel, ‘Stage: Woman as Adjuncts in Ourselves Alone, Pl . ) All three women feel the need to create sexual scenarios in their minds, whereby they re the governing partner. In Joke’s sexual fantasy, she adopts the role of Catcall’s homosexual lover in an attempt to take the place of the dominant partner.
It is upsetting the horrific effect that Catchall has on Josses as a woman: the most overtly political and a courier in the rebellion against the British, is blinded by her desire for romance, by a sentimentalists vision of the men who would subjugate her. ‘ (Gussy, Mel, ‘Stage: Woman as Adjuncts in Ourselves Alone, Pl . ) It is due to the constant feeling of subjugation that Josses feels the need to create these unusual thoughts in ere mind. It appears these sexual fantasies are an effort made by Josses to escape the confinements she experiences daily.
They unfortunately find themselves living by the standards that have been put in place by the men in their lives. Devils herself believes that whether on stage or not ‘men are out in their thousands, lasciviously menacing and not to be avoided. Their baneful influence is pervasive and only dream of wealth and bodies in that order and has an obvious capacity to exploit and oppress both of them. ‘ (Williams, Caroline, ‘This One is For the Sisters’, Theatre Ireland, app. Similarly, the brutal reality that Fried fantasies about being gang raped by local men at the pub, reveals her desire to be wanted.
By placing herself as the object of desire, Fried feels she is the one who has the control and power in the situation. This certainly reflects the feeling of oppression she experiences as a direct result of how she is treated by men such as Joe Conrad. She cannot hide her extreme feelings of dejection and rejection that she experiences when Joe chose to be with Josses instead of her. The events in Donna’s life, that are a result of her marriage to ere husband Lima, also force her into a situation where she undoubtedly and unjustly feels trapped.
She spends years waiting on him to be released from prison, yet when he is freed and they are finally reunited, he confesses he has been unfaithful to her. Donna’s reaction to his infidelity reveals her anxiousness and fears as a woman, a wife and a mother. She stays committed to their marriage as she feel it is her duty to Lima and their young daughter. Donna admirably ‘remains devoted to Joke’s brother, her common-law husband, despite the fact that he regards his life tit her as a kind of way station on the road to war. ‘ (Gussy, Mel, ‘Stage: Woman as Adjuncts in Ourselves Alone, Pl . Feelings of unhappiness and misery that are experienced by Josses, Fried ad Donna in ‘Ourselves Alone’ are also experienced by Sieve as a direct result of feelings of containment. ‘Sieve’ is a perfect example of a play that completely ‘exemplifies a repression of womanhood. ‘ (End Yuk, ‘The Feminine Mystique in Irish Theatre: John B. Snake’s Portrayal of Women’, IPPP. ) Sieve is educated, well behaved, intelligent and kind hearted yet these elements of her rationality and character are suppressed by Mean, Nana, Mike and Sean Data and Outmatches Sean Aura.
She is prevented and disallowed from reaching her full potential as the figures of authority in her life prohibit this by restraining and oppressing her constantly. Sieve feels she is not in control of her own life and decisions. Her role and purpose in life seems to have already been decided by others. Outmatches Sean Aura, as a matchmaker, takes the liberty of deciding that Sieve should marry Sean Data, an extremely older man: ‘There is someone who have a great wish for the young lady, this one they call Sieve. (Kane, John B, Sieve, up. 0) He does not take into account whether or not Sieve is happy with this decision, her feelings towards this arrangement or if she is even comfortable being placed in the situation at all: ‘l could never live with that old man. ‘ (Kane, John B, Sieve, up. 21) Unfortunately for Sieve, this arranged marriage highlights the patriarchal society that existed in Ireland which prevented many women from feeling happy, free and sovereign: ‘Irish society has traditionally been entrenched in a stifling male supremacy, that in the theatre anyway, can cause women to end up destroying homeless. (End Yuk, ‘The Feminine Mystique in Irish Theatre: John B. Snake’s Portrayal of Women’, IPPP. ) This is the case for a powerless and passive Sieve, as she longs for a form of escapism that will allow her to feel free. As a feminist play, ‘Ourselves Alone’ differs from Sieve. Nevertheless, the female protagonists in both eventually long to escape from their current situation of subjection, feebleness and domination and experience the riveting feeling of freedom, liberty and power. Throughout ‘Ourselves Alone’, Devils continuously enforces the notion of what a male is, what is expected of her and how she differs from a male.
Devils also uses the structure of realism to highlight the female as the other’ and the object, rather than the subject: ‘Feminist analysis has identified an oppressive discourse of engendered representation that constructs the woman as the other’, the non- male. ‘ (Millet, Kate, Sexual Politics: Realism, Feminism and the Northern Irish Women Playwrights of the ‘ass, New York, 1970, app, Print. ) The current political and social situation of Northern Ireland that ‘Ourselves Alone’ is set in, undoubtedly limited males from having any power, whether domestic, political or social.
The Troubles undoubtedly restricted and contained the females in society. ‘Ourselves Alone’ echoes the deep-rooted powers at work under the surface. ‘ Monsoons, Amy R, Stranger in the Room: Illuminating Female Identity through Irish Drama, Indiana, 2007, IPPP, Print. ) It appears that even the female body does not wholly belong to the female herself. This is evident in the treatment of Fried by John McDermott. John attempts to control how Fried acts, dresses and presents herself to society. His demands that he does not die her hair as it is not in accordance with the socialist worker’s party’s ethos.
He expects her to obey him as he thoroughly believes he is in control of her, not Fried herself. His interrogation of her in order to find out if she has feelings for him, is a clear indication that he believes he can manipulate and control her, as he is the male dominant fugue. They are not even in a relationship at this stage, yet John is determined to influence her to his best ability, and also make her look unreasonable: You were very annoyed when I stayed away last night. All night. You sulked all through breakfast.
In fact you manage to sulk every time I bring a woman into the house. ‘ (Kane, John B, Sieve) The fact that John continuously attempts to control Fried, ultimately entraps her into power, without her actually releasing. In many ways, Northern culture was more severe, especially in its attitudes toward women. Indeed, a shift was underway that exposed women’s voices throughout many aspects of the culture: women began to create opportunities to speak out, protest and even rebel. Josses also falls victim to ill treatment of Joe and also her brother Lima.
When he falls pregnant with Joey’s baby and Lima tries to force her to have an abortion, the concept that the female body does not belong to herself but in fact her male patriarch’s, comes into play once again. The dispute between Joke’s father Malay and brother about Joke’s unborn child reflects the selfish nature of them and furthermore the pressure women are under in society to obey males, and allow themselves to be confined and contained: ‘This dispute between the men acts out the gender politics that structure this group of AIR men and women who live with them and exposes the controls that nationalisms tend to exert over women.
Lima seeks to destroy the offspring of a British-Irish union, whereas Malay sees his role as protector and preserver of woman and hearth. This dispute also symbolizes shifts in the AIR leadership both within the movement and in the nation that the men hope to create. ‘ Monsoons, Amy R, Stranger in the Room: Illuminating Female Identity through Irish Drama, IPPP. ) Similarly in ‘Sieve’ Kane skillfully uses sexual politics, gender and the body to reveal how women were managed and controlled by men in society, due to the standards that had been set: ‘Men can make full use of opportunities or alternatives that women are denied. (End Yuk, ‘The Feminine Mystique in Irish Theatre: John B. Snake’s Portrayal of Women’, IPPP. ) Sieve is supposed to accept Sean D??TA as her husband because he is a strong, powerful, masculine fugue, which is due to his gender. Outmatches is also used a tool to reflect the supremacy of virility, masculinity and societal standards, as he as a male matchmaker, has the authority and ability to establish a marriage between Sieve and a man whom she does not love.
The fact that Sieve is utterly in love with Lima Scuba and wishes to be his wife, is not a actor in the planning of her life by her uncle. Nana’s wishes for her to marry Lima are dismissed, possibly due to the fact she is a female. Sieve’s attempts to assert some form of sovereignty and walk home by herself, without Sean D??tat’s company, are slightly mimicked by Outmatches as he reminds her of her gender, societal position and weakness: ‘But think of the dark, girl, and the pјca, the mad red eyes of him like coals of fire lighting in his head.
There is no telling what you would meet on a black road. ‘ (Kane, John B, Sieve, up. 32) Sieve is ultimately helpless and powerless in her attempts to be content with her life as Outmatches and Mike take the opportunity for her to be Lam’s wife away from her. They constantly limit and restrict her abilities to have the life she longs for. Both ‘Ourselves Alone’ and ‘Sieve’ are impeccable examples of how women are represented in relation to the tension between containment and escape in Irish drama.
Throughout both plays, the female protagonists are persistently repressed and restricted by the events and authoritative figures in their lives, and as a result, constantly desire aspire to escape from the boundaries that have been put in place for them. The upsetting reality that only Fried and Sieve escape their controlled lives through emigration and suicide reflects the horrid consequences of containment. Fried reveals that she would rather be lonely than suffocate reveals the effects that control can have on a female.
Sieve’s delve into escapism is disturbing and alarming, showing Just how damaged and distraught she had become: ‘She ran like the wind and she letting cries out of her that would rend your heart[… ] She took her own life[… ] the poor tormented child. ‘ (Kane, John B, Sieve) The naturalistic nature which Devils and Kane apply to heir plays, disclose the struggles that all four women have to endure in their lives, and how these struggles are direct penalties of the restrictions put in place by others.