The two plays I will be focusing on are The Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge and Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey I will discuss gender roles and class deeply and conjure up exactly what they are like in each play. Beginning with The Playboy of the Western World the dating scene is quite different from the one in which anyone else would be familiar with. Instead of the male chasing the women and trying to woo her it is switched it is all about the women chasing the one man.
This shows the role of women throughout the play. Every female character we meet is quite obsessed with Christy.
Regarding Pegeen or Margaret Flaherty she is quite the strong woman. She runs the local public house and gives off vibes of confidence it is quite clear she has power over her father as she is the one in-charge. However she still gives undertones of a young helpless girl as she is frightened to stay in the shebeen “to be leaving a poor girl with her own self counting the hours to the dawn of day? ” this evokes that although she is a controlling character and quite strong she is still vulnerable.
She becomes interested in Christy due to how different he is and he’s coming from the outside.
When she first meets the protagonist she leads the interrogation on him she is quite aggressive towards him at first she even speaks more than any of the men who are there. She threatens to hit him with a broom when she is told that she is not speaking the truth “Not speaking the truth is it? Would you have me knock you on the head with the butt of the broom? ” I also believe that she is much respected by the other male characters. “[with a sign to the men to be quiet]” this evokes her strength as a character as in rural Ireland during these times women do not have much of a say in procedures.
She also has the final say about Christy and she thinks it is a great idea for him to stay. Once the rest of the characters have left the pub she becomes quite flirtatious with Christy. She still plays the woman’s role though of making the bed and serving him some food for his supper. Their chat is interrupted by widow Quin who calls to the public house quite late. Widow Quin tries to steal to steal Christy away from her stating that it was not right for them to stay with each other “to have his likeness lodging with an orphaned girl. ” They begin to argue over him this is quite the role reversal of genders.
She tells Christy that they would be great company to each other. While talking about widow Quin killing her father she is quite relaxed and humoured by it all “If it didn’t, maybe all knows a widow woman has buried her children and destroyed her man is a wiser comrade for a young lad than a girl, the like of you, who’d go helter-skeltering after any man would let you wink upon the road. ” This suggests that she is not sympathetic. She seems to be a strong figure in the play but quite heartless. This can be said for the rest of the females throughout the play who we meet also excluding Pegeen.
The 1st Act is quite important in showing how the female characters are in the play the fact that the roles have reversed is strange and I can see how this may have caused riots in a quite reserved Ireland. Christy himself is astonished at the idea of having women fighting over him “two fine women fighting for the likes of me” suggesting he should of killed his father years ago. The gossip in the small rural town of Mayo flows fast as we can see by the next day there are a group of girls who have heard about Christy have walked “four miles” to see him and hear his story.
This portrays the class of the people of the town as they do not have much to do and also walk instead of having any form of transport just to see a man, this shows also how the cockiness of Christy is growing due the women around him. He is brought back down to earth though when Pegeen gets them all to leave and she gives Christy instructions to do some work “fling out that rubbish and put them cups away. Shove in the bench wall. And hang that glass on the nail” this shows that although the women were all smitten by Christy Pegeen still had power over him.
The males in the play show the class of the people they are all of working class background, even the killing of his father being celebrated shows the class of the people being quite backwards he is told that he should be vain for killing him “vain lot surely” there are not many differences regarding the people with class in the play they all seem to be of the same stature. They do not judge people on their background although Pegeen asks Christy if he was a “tinker” he is still welcomed by everyone apart from Shawn.
Regarding “Juno and the Paycock” gender roles play a major part in the play. The title of the play itself suggests that the play will be about the sexes. The husband is the “paycock” he is vain and has a certain strut about him O’Casey describes him as a “man of about sixty; stout, grey-haired and stocky. neck is short, and his head looks like a stone ball […] His cheeks, reddish- purple, are puffed out […] On his upper lip is a crisp, tightly cropped moustache; he carries himself with the upper part of his body lightly thrown back, and his stomach slightly thrust forward. His walk is a slow, consequential strut” This shows how he takes himself in high regard, and through his vanity sees himself better than he is because throughout he is far from a strong character. He does not live in reality and is far from the man he thinks he is branding himself as a ‘Capatin’ even though he isn’t “He is dedicated to his own artistry as dreamer and too weak to face up to the truth”.
Men are the weaker of the sexes in the play this again is another switch in the gender roles by one of the playwrights. The character of Juno is far from an ordinary house wife she works and takes care of the family by cooking the meals and so on she is wrecked from it all this is noticed by other characters though “Your poor wife slavin’ to keep the bit in your mouth…” This evokes how the female is the stronger one in her marriage and doing a lot to keep the family together even though the money she gets from working is spent on alcohol by her husband Mr Boyle.
O’Casey portrays males weaker by doing this. We can see poverty throughout the play as they struggle to know where their next meal is going to come from “eat your breakfast… it may be the last you’ll get for I don’t know where the next one is going to come from. ” The fact that she says this, the audience knows clearly not only from the dingy tenement that they live in that they are struggling to make ends meet.
The description of Juno in the first Act lets us know that they are poverty stricken as her she used to be beautiful but the struggle of life and poverty changes her appearance for the worst “twenty years ago she must have been a pretty woman: but her face has now assumed that look which ultimately settles down upon the women of the working-class…” Juno struggles already with money and has to put up with her husband who does not bring anything into the house to help; he is a burden on her and does not help with their situation with money.
He has no function in the house he is not a good parent and just takes from Juno and the family “You’d think he was bringin’ twenty poun’s a week into the house the way he’s going on. He wore out the Health Insurance long ago, he’s afther wearin’ out the unemployment dole, an’, now, he’s thryin’ to wear out me! ” this evokes the struggle with money and how Mr Boyce is a leach on the family and government. The portrayal of him shows the stereotypical drunk Irish father that is so widely known. Johnny Boyle though does give the male sex a better image as he has fought in the war of independence, even though is mother was against it. The portrayal of gender by both playwrights shows female characters as the stronger of the sexes the protagonist in The Playboy of the Western World although admired by his female counterparts is actually a coward as he hides from his father after the realisation that he is still alive and he even plans to run away after he thought that authority figures found out about the murderer even though he boasts about it, Mr Boyle in Juno and the Paycock is quite the same they both live in a fantasy land of their own and are not realists and they both boast about things.
The female are most definitely the stronger characters. Regarding class the two plays are set in very different areas but they are quite similar both similar not coming from an upper class background and both struggling money wise.
Cite this The Playboy of the Western World by Jm Synge and Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’casey
The Playboy of the Western World by Jm Synge and Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’casey. (2016, Oct 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-playboy-of-the-western-world-by-jm-synge-and-juno-and-the-paycock-by-sean-ocasey/