Essay, Pages 6 (1269 words)
In her drama “Bold Girls”, Rona Munro has created a relevant and inspiring legacy of war-torn Northern Ireland. Her drama depicts the daily struggles and predicaments faced by four particular women, who seem to thrive on their fantasies and illusions all except Deirdre who is marked out as different from the drama’s beginning:
“Deirdre is not in this room, she’s crouching on all fours on her own talking
out of darkness in which only her face is visible.”
Introduced as a surreal and somewhat eerie character it is no surprise that Deirdre contrasts greatly with the three other women.
It is her persistent search for the truth that polarises her from the others and causes her to be at odds with them as they shut out truth and cushion themselves with their idealistic dreams. This idea of fantasy versus reality is a main concern within the play, and it is through monologues and stage direction that we are allowed a deeper understanding of each character’s situation and of the play’s themes.
A particular monologue of Deirdre’s undoubtedly confirms that her search for truth will result in the hurt of others and possible confrontations and violent conflicts:
“The lights change
I need a knife a wee blade of my own…It was the knife he was talking
about. It was the truth. I thought I’d like that. A wee bit of hard truth
you could hold in your hand and point where you liked.
The lights change”
I believe this monologue verifies Deirdre’s role as “catalyst”.
By this point we have been introduced to all four women and to their dreams and fantasies, which Deirdre’s “wee blade” of truth threatens to destroy. Deirdre’s yearning for the truth causes her to kill these dreams, bringing the three idealistic women crashing back to the harsh reality that surrounds them. Deirdre’s conflict is greatest with the central character, Marie. Compared with Cassie and Nora’s materialistic dreams of redecorating her living room (Nora) and leaving Belfast (Cassie), Marie’s delusions of her late husband’s heroic acts and credibility are not as empty as her friends’.
These dreams are instilled within objects in the womens’ homes; for example Nora’s dream is symbolised by a “peach polyester mix”, Cassie’s by a wad of money hidden behind Michel’s photograph and Marie’s by a “grainy blow up” of her late husband, Michael. As the play progresses it becomes apparent that Deirdre is intent on destroying each character’s dream, but I think it is also suggested that she is somewhat linked with Marie and her dream. Munro again makes use of symbolism to connect these two characters. For example, Deirdre’s mini dress is reminiscent of Marie’s wedding dress:
“Then other times she looks like me…you remember that dress I was
married in, that wee white mini-dress?…She stands. And stares.”
I believe it is as though Munro is depicting Deirdre as a ghost of Marie’s past. This becomes relevant later in the play when Deirdre reveals to Marie that she is in fact Michael’s daughter.
The simple observation of Deirdre standing alone at the bottom of the path reflects how she appears isolated from the others in her search for truth; she longs to exploit the truth and become part of the family unit maintained by the three other women:
“I’m wet, I’m cold. I want to get inside…I want to get inside. Can’t
keep me out.”
This monologue has quite a threatening undertone , it is as though Deirdre’s isolation causes her distress. I believe also that the use of “wet” and “cold” highlight the harsh environment and the fact that Deirdre is unloved. I think all of these factors – isolation and the longing for truth – cause Deirdre to act as catalyst. In taking on this role, Deirdre threatens to destroy the fellow women’s dreams. Her first act as catalyst is when she steals Cassie’s money hence ruining her dream of escape and freedom. Deirdre makes obvious to the reader that Cassie’s materialistic dream is false and unobtainable in a short, eerie monologue:
“The whole town’s a prison, smash chunks off the wall ’cause
we’re all in a prison.”
Cassie’s dream of escape is obviously unrealistic and false and I believe Deidre’s destruction of the dream validates this idea.
Deirdre also appears to be in conflict with Nora, Cassie’s mother, a she goes on to use her “wee blade of truth” to shed Nora’s “shiny peach polyester” fabric and ultimately her dream:
“Deirdre…looks at the broad, smooth stretch of material then starts
to slash at it, ripping it, trampling it till she’s breathless.”
Deirdre’s violent reactions I believe show what harsh and abusive situations she has been exposed to. She desires to know the truth so much, that she finds happiness in destroying the illusions and fantasies of others, forcing them to face their reality and embrace the truth.
Although Cassie and Nora do avoid the truth that their materialistic hopes will always elude them, it is Marie’s complete glossing over of the truth that causes her to be most at odds with Deirdre. Her lullaby that she uses to calm her son for example, shows how dependant she is on her delusions about Michael:
“Your daddy was a good man and a brave man…that’s what
keeps us all together, keeps me going, keeps me strong…”
Marie finds comfort in her deluded memories of Michael. I believe this blanking of the truth angers Deirdre and causes her to react violently and destructively toward Marie and her dreams:
“Deirdre hurls the clothes at her. She snatches the knife out
of the chair and waves the blade at Marie. She advances on
I want the truth out of you. I mean it.”
This I believe is symbolic in showing that Deirdre uses the truth as a harmful device and that Marie is threatened by its potential exposure. Marie’s reaction is shocking and uncharacteristic of her gentle, nurturing nature – she takes Michael’s picture and using Deirdre’s knife, destroys it. Marie in turn destroys Deirdre’s dream of knowing the truth about her father.
These two characters, who are at the greatest point in their conflict portray through their actions the main concerns of the text – reality versus illusion – reality conquers over dreams and pointless fantasies. The unveiling of the truth brings these two closer together allowing them to reconcile. The conclusion of the play suggests hope and optimism for the recovery of these women. They share in a special, ritual feeding of the birds, their relationship to emulate that of a mother and daughter:
“Did you ever feed the birds, Deirdre?
“I like the common wee birds…you’d need to be something special
to build a nest around the Falls. Someone should feed them.” “
Deirdre and Marie’s conflict is resolved by Marie’s embracing of the truth that she has for so long avoided. The central idea of “Bold Girls” of reality versus dreams is made obvious by the characters’ actions, they cope by padding their harsh reality and cushioning themselves with fantasies and illusions. These qualities are instilled within the characters of the play, Marie, Cassie and Nora thrive on fantasies and dreams; whereas Deirdre lives for the truth.
The opposing forces I feel cause the characters to be in conflict with each other. Their compromising situations and contrasting ideas about reality create friction between the opposing characters of Deirdre and Marie. Munro expertly uses stage direction, soliloquy and the opposing forces of truth and fantasy to make apparent the concerns of the text and to heighten my personal appreciation of their importance in these womens’ lives.