The play is set in the Dublin slums or tenements in the years of the Iris Civil War 1922 and 1923. The whole play centers on the Boyle family. Juno Boyle is married to Boyle who calls himself Captain Boyle. Boyle is a useless and irresponsible drunkard who shuns the reality of work at every stage in the play, and spends his time in the pub drinking with his friend Joxer Daly. The Boyles have two children Johnny and Mary. Johnny is a sickly individual who has been involved in the Republican movement but he ended up betraying a comrade by the name of Tancred.
Johnny spends his days locked up in the house fearful of his life. His mother Juno is a selfless character who is concerned all the time about other people. Juno’s daughter Mary is deeply concerned about appearances. She is a shallow character who seems to judge people and things from the outside. When we meet her at the beginning of the play, we learn she is on strike because of the dismissal of a young girl called Jenny Claffey. Yet we are told from Juno how Mary never had a good word to say about Jenny Claffey in her whole life. The family are told that they will inherit money from a distant relative who has died.
Bentham is the solicitor who informs them of this fact. He begins to have a relationship with Mary and she becomes pregnant. Bentham shortly after this abandons her. The Boyles begin to borrow money and accumulate a great deal of debts. The legacy never materializes, and the Boyles are forced to return the borrowed goods. Johnny is dragged off to be shot for the betrayal of Tancred. Juno finally realizes that Boyle will never take on his responsibilities as father and breadwinner and so she leaves him and sets up home with Mary. Themes/Issues Poverty This theme dominates the play at every level.
The whole play highlights the cruel irony that while many people were fighting for ideals and principles there were others who were suffering from the debilitating effects of the poverty. Because of the negative effects generated by poverty escapism assumes a major and dramatic element in the lives of characters. Mary’s tragic situation occurs because of poverty. When it becomes clear that the Boyles will not inherit any legacy, Bentham disappears forever abandoning Mary alone to have her baby. Jerry Devine standards of what are essential features in a husband are set out in terms of money. At one stage he tells Mary how the job is worth 3 50.
Juno who is the only character rooted in the harsh practical everyday world of necessity realizes that money, hard work, and responsible social commitment are stronger and more realistic values in this world than principles and ideals. Her pragmatic stance on how principles won’t pay butchers is in striking contrast to the incessant evasion from reality inherent in all of the other characters. Religion The theme of Religion is also a dominant feature in the play. The play is set against a strong Catholic background. O Casey makes frequent use of images of Our Lady and the votive light to project an air of realism and authenticity in the play.
There are also a variety of different religions, and attitudes expressed throughout the play. One of O Casey’s chief mottos in the play seems to show the co- existence of strong religious convictions, together with a sincere and humane commitment to one’s fellowman. Juno’s faith is sincere, authentic, and traditional. She believes on Johnny’s death that God can do nothing against the stupidity of men, that her husband should be praying novenas for a job, and that what Ireland needs is more piety. On the other hand, Bentham espouses a religion by the name of Theosophy.
This is projected as vague and abstract and certainly seems to be compatible with his own shallow commitment to people. Reality and Fantasy The play dramatizes the conflict between the dream world and the world of reality and shows what happens when a character is stripped of his illusions and forced to face reality. Boyle the ‘poseur’ or Paycock struts throughout the world of the play on a false and imaginary sense of his own self- importance. His whole life and career consist in fabricating dreams of his gallant years as a captain fighting heroic feats and sailing the oceans of the world.
The news of the legacy provides another outlet to Boyle’s habitual evasion of reality, he sees himself as a potential investor on the Stock Exchange. His whole life is a lie. His pains, which are invented for the sake of shirking and avoiding work, become real to him. His refuses to face up to the truth and reality about Bentham and the deception surrounding the news of the will. When reality invades at the conclusion of the play in the form of Mary’s pregnancy and the actual removal of his material possessions, Boyle is unable to cope. His final entrance dramatized in a drunken fragmentary soliloquy is tragic.
His habitual escape into fantasy is pathetically expressed through his drunken pose – ‘ Commandant Kelly died…. in them arms….. Tell me Volunteer Bullies says he that I died for Ireland’. Mary who represents the younger generation also falls victim to illusion. On her first appearance in the play, she is shown to be on strike for a principle. The oppressive and stifling atmosphere generated by the tenement life forces her to seek escape through Bentham. For her he represents another way of life and values outside the restricting and debilitating atmosphere within the two- roomed tenement.
She falls victim to the subtle deception of Bentham’ middle-class gentility. She is blinded by external appearances and ends up a tragic victim of Bentham’s hypocrisy and selfishness At the conclusion of the play, she is forced to return to the reality of the slum life with Juno in spite of all her attempts to escape through learning and books. Answer ‘Juno and the Paycock’ is a play that was written by Sean O’Casey. It is one of the most often performed and highly regarded plays in Ireland. ‘Juno and the Paycock’ was first staged at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 1924. Juno and the Paycock: Tragoi-comedy.
Tragi-comedy is a kind of writing in which comedy is hovering on the brinks of tragedy. O’Casey’s “Juno and the Paycock” is a tragi-comedy although, on the whole, it is a serious and somber play having much destruction and violence. But there are a number of comic elements in the play which would not fit into the pattern of a tragedy. On the other hand, as the comic elements do not outweigh the tragic ones, it would be inappropriate to label the play as a comedy. It means there is a co-existence in the play of tragic and comic elements and so, the best course is to treat it as a tragi-comedy.
Trade Union. JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK Sean O’ Casey ACT 1 (in a labour family house, not very well furnished) Johnny and Mary Boyle are siblings and members of a Trade Union. Mary is 22 and Johnny is her younger brother. He was injured at the hip by a bullet and at the arm by a bomb: he is an activist. One of Mary’s friend, Jennie Claffey has been fired so Mary wants to demonstrate (Union Trade). Mrs Boyle doesn’t support those behaviours on the part of her Children. Mrs Tancred son was killed during a an armed fight. The Boyle family is poor and Mrs Boyle borrows money.
She doesn’t want her husband to come at home with his friend, Joxer, and to spoil all the coal and the food. Johnny is crippled and relies much on others. Jerry Devine has found a Job for the Captain (Juno’s Husband), but the latter pretends the pain is his legs prevents him from working. Jerry Devine is in Love with Mary, but she hangs out with another guy. Jerry Devine saw them together. Jerry devine is a very polite and a very correct guy. Juno makes Joxer go and goes to work. Then Joxer comes again. He is much afraid of Juno. He and the Captain have a conversation. The captain doesn’t want to work.
He doesn’t like clergymen. Then Joxer has a quick leave as Juno comes back with Mary and Mr Bentham (the other guy Mary sees). He is 25 and seems to be rich. He has great news for the captain. Benthan says Ellison of Santry, a relative of John Boyle the captain) is dead and he will receive half of his belongings. Then John Boyle get angry with Jox. Things now goes well between he and his wife though. ACT 2 (two days later + the pace is full of belongings and adornments of all sorts) Boyle is friend again with Jox and spend is money joyfully. As he is rich, he seem to have changed views about clergyman.
Father Farell (the one proposing him the job in particular). Charles and Mary seem to appreciate each other much. Boyle and the former are having a conversation. As Bentham speaks about spirits Johnny sees the phantom of Robbie Tancred in the left room. The captain is sometimes called Jack. Mrs madigan (a woman to whom the captain owes a few pounds) comes in. They sing. Then Mrs Tancred is heard in the street, going to the burial of her son. Nugent (tailor + he talked with the captain about his job and the Father) comes and asks them to shut the gramophone down. They all go out except John, to see the burial procession.
The mobilizer comes and asks John to take part in a meeting of the militia. ACT 3 (two months later+ same setting) Bentham hasn’t been seen for a month. He has given up on Mary. Mrs Boyle brings her to the doctor’s. The captain has borrowed much money to all his neighbours but it seems he won’t get it. Nugent, the tailor comes and takes back a suit he had made for Jack. Mrs Madigan, who wants to be repaid, comes and takes the gramophone for which the captain hasn’t paid yet. The captain and Joxer quarrel about the rumours and the girls come back from the doctror’s. Marry is pregnant, Bentham is the father.
Bentham also misinterpreted the will and the Captain won’t have his share. People come to remove the furniture that hasn’t been paid for. Two irregulars (from the militia) take hold of Johnny (called Sean) to take him by force. He is accused of having killed Tancred. One hour later the house is completely empty. Johnny was killed. Two policemen come for Mrs Boyle to check up the corpse. The girls will live together and take care of the baby. Until Mary drops they will live at Juno’s sister. Joxer and Boyle come back completely drunk. Boyle says the whole world is in a state of crisis.