Analysis, Pages 7 (1504 words)
With the euphoric ending of Act 1, Juno and The Paycock could have culminated with the rapture and satisfaction of the Boyle family, but instead, O Casey chose to write two more Acts. In Act Three, O’Casey builds upon Juno’s character through setting, language and plot to ultimately portray her as a courageous heroine.
The start of the Act Three begins, yet again, in the Boyle residence. The atmosphere in the room is dismal; a dark November evening lit by a flickering fire clearly contrasts with the excitement and colourful ending of Act Two to create a sense of foreboding within the scene.
Conversation between Mary and Juno reveals that Mr. Bentham has deserted Mary with no ‘imaginable’ reason. It is within this conversation that O’Casey starts to create audience sympathy for Juno. As a mother trying to console her child, the audience immediately favours Juno. Although she seems to say the ‘wrong things’, O’Casey makes it clear to the audience that Juno is trying her best for her daughter:
“But you shouldn’t be frettin’ the way you are; when a woman loses a man, she never knows what she’s afther losin’, to be sure, but, then, she never knows what she’s afther gainin’, either.
After creating admiration for Juno by making it clear to the audience that she is concerned about her daughter, O’Casey arouses sympathy by using the words of her daughter:
“It would have been useless to tell you – you wouldn’t understand.
This rebuke from Juno’s daughter obviously hurts Juno, and we as an audience sympathise with her as she only tried to comfort her child.
Immediately after this conversation, we learn that Boyle has taken “pains in me legs” again. As witnesses to the antics of Boyle for two previous scenes, the audience would understand that Boyle’s ” pains in [his] legs” are only a means of escape, and it is from this point on that the audience would also suspect that there is a chance that no money is coming for Juno, who is heavily in debt. By giving the audience information that Juno does not know, O’Casey prompts them to sympathise for Juno. This is evidence of the timing within the scene that O’Casey uses to create sympathy. By setting Juno up for a course of ruinous events, he compels an audience to sympathise with Juno as she struggles on, blissfully unaware as to what is around each corner.
After Juno’s departure from the house, O’Casey builds on audience ‘inside information’ by revealing Boyle’s double-crossing friend, and showing Boyle being stripped of money and clothes. This is not only creating sympathy for Juno because we see the extent of her debt and weakness of her marriage, but we also see what she doesn’t know; although her husband does. The fact that the will money will never reach Juno is devastating to us, as as an audience we know that the prospect of cash is holding Juno’s family together.
As Juno returns with Mary, the atmosphere in the scene has already deteriorated to sombreness as O’Casey has revealed a series of shortcomings. O’Casey creates admiration for Juno by doing this furthermore; showing that although Juno’s life is falling apart, she still stands strongly.
When breaking the news of her daughter’s pregnancy to Boyle, she approaches him in a gentle manner.
“Sit down here, Jack; I’ve something to say to you…about Mary.”
By using this language, O’Casey shows us Juno’s thoughtfulness and compassion for others. These good qualities that are displayed by Juno are contrasted with the reactions from her husband and son, who immediately think only of themselves:
“Amn’t I afther goin’ through enough without havin’ to go through this!”
Their selfishness and lack of consideration for Mary or Juno leaves Juno without a husband, as Boyle cowardly leaves her to deal with the situation alone. It is at this point that O’Casey creates admiration for Juno through her actions.
“If Mary goes, I’ll go with her.”
This short and effective statement made by Juno is recognised by an audience, as the task she is taking on is immense. Because of her love for her child, Juno is bravely swearing to help raise Mary’s child in a world where it was deemed unacceptable to have a child with no father. This shows courageousness and love on Juno’s part and the reaction from Boyle reinforces that she is, indeed, alone:
“Well go with her!”
With a broken marriage, Juno is left pleading with her son to calm down; again, degrading herself for the sake of her child.
“If you don’t whisht, Jonny, you’ll drive me mad.”
While Juno deals with her cowardly and selfish son, two men enter to repossess her furniture. Being stripped of her dignity while the audience helplessly watches, Juno’s language shows how she is still fighting through her broken marriage and home to save herself:
“Everythin’s gone wrong, Mary, everythin’. We’re not getting’ a penny out o’ the Will, not a penny – I’ll tell you all when I come back; I’m goin for your father.”
As Juno is absent from the scene, her son is taken away by ‘two Irregulars’. Their hostile and violent behavior created by O’Casey circulates fear within the audience, but it is the actions and speech of Juno when she hears of her son’s murder that create sympathy and admiration for her.
When Jonny Boyle leaves in Act Three, the curtain falls.
“When it rises again most of the furniture is gone. Mary and Mrs Boyle, one on each side, are sitting in a darkened room, by the fire; it is an hour later.”
This stage direction adds a sense of foreboding as the darkness and firelit room suggests that there is bad news to come. It also creates a short break where the audience is left alone; O’Casey does this as to let the audience reflect on the situation as the sense of foreboding mounts. As Juno is talking, her words convey a mother about to break down from worrying:
“…If anything ud happen to poor Johnny, I think I’d lose me mind…”
This again, shows the extent of Juno’s love for her children no matter the situation they are in.
As Mrs Madigan comes to break the bad news to Juno, O’Caesy shows Juno’s strength through her speech:
“Don’t keep me waitin’, Mrs. Madigan; I’ve gone through so much lately that I feel able for anything.”
As she hears the news of her son’s body being found Juno keeps her composure for her daughter’s sake, putting her family before her even in this grief stricken time for her. This compels an audience to admire Juno; her strength as her life falls around her is astounding.
At hearing of the death of her son, Juno makes a positive decision for herself and Mary to leave the tenement and “never come back agen”. This decision to not only leave her home, but her family, shows Juno’s strength, determination, love and courageous personality, and she is looked upon as a heroine.
As she leaves the scene, Juno repeats the words of Mrs Tancred, a symbolic gesture as they are both suffering from the loss of their sons:
“Sacred Heart o’ Jesus, take away our hearts o’ stone, and give us hearts o’ flesh! Take away this murdherin’ hate, an’ give us Thine own eternal love!”
This speech is symbolic of suffering Irish womanhood: it shows women suffering from the murder of their children through Irish politics TWICE. The fact that both women are alone shows the strength of Juno and Mrs Tancred: they, as mothers of victims of Irish politics are portrayed as victims. O’Casey uses this speech to show that through the ‘murdherin’ hate’ of the civil war, the Irish womanhood is suffering most of all.
This quote reinforces that Juno is a heroine; she is coping with the death of her son, pregnancy of her daughter, failing of her marriage and ring of debt on her own. This plea for help shows that she is only human, and her pride has endured so much that all she can do is ask for help. Juno leaves the play with audience sympathy and admiration as her will to succeed is still present while her life has crumbled.
O’Casey contrasts Juno’s dramatic exit with Joxer and Boyle’s drunken entrance. They make Juno even more of a heroine to the audience as their drunken stupor contrasts to the courageous decision Juno has just made. Blissfully unaware of his son’s death and wife’s absence, Boyle comes across as arrogant: proving that Juno has made a good decision for herself and consequently, building upon audience admiration for her. The play concludes with Boyle’s drunken statement:
“I’m telling you…Joxer…th’ whole worl’s…in a terr…ible state o’…chassis!”
O’Casey uses irony in this final statement to contrast Juno and Boyle’s, now, opposing lives. As the whole world may be in a “state o’…chassis” for Boyle, Juno’s positive decision has lifted her out of this world, and into another life.