The roses of Eyam Essay
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Show how Don Taylor uses historical material about the political situation, the plague, and the village of Eyam and shapes it to suit his own artistic purposes in the Roses of Eyam.
The play “The Rose of Eyam” is a true story. It was set in a remote tiny village of Eyam, which is in Derbyshire. During the years 1665-1666 when the play is set, England was swept by the bubonic plague it spread from ports and London was the focus.
One in three of the population died because of the terrible illness. The plague finished in London when the great fire started. However Don Taylor wrote the play in 1976. He created it from an idea derived from a book called “Fifty World Famous Heroic Deeds” The aim of this book was to inspire people to perform heroic deeds and be brave. The people of Eyam where brave as they cut themselves off from the world to face almost certain death. They did this to prevent the plagues spreading. Don Taylor wanted to use the play as a visual aid to show how the people of Eyam suffered. The book is a fictional book with a number of facts. It is not a history book.
This play opens when Mompesson and his family arrive in Eyam. Mompesson is the new Rector of Eyam. The first impressions the audience have of his personality is that he is arrogant and pompous. He is also disappointed with his living, as he believes the village to be small and had hoped for more. Saville is his patron. He tells Mompesson he will be unpopular at first as the old Rector Stanley still lives in the village and has many supporters. The people of Eyam however are not appreciative of his education had spent ten years at University as they are “not fellow scholars” many of the villagers still support the Puritan cause. Mompesson is the “king’s Man” Stanley had to be replaced like others for refusing to use “The Book Of Common Prayer”. Savilles prediction of Mompesson is true, at the Harvest Wake Edward Thornley describes him to Stanley as “A youngster full of arrogance and spleen who spits in the dust as we pass”
When we meet Mompesson another character is introduced known as Bedlam. Bedlam is a fictional character loosely based on a character from Dylan Thomas’s script “The Doctor and the Devils” When Catherine Mompesson she sees he is a cripple and is a mental defective. She is kind and suggests he gets a coat when he says no she offers to find it for him.
This is true to Catherine’s character she was actually like this – helpful and practical. Bedlam serves three functions for the play he predicts that everyone will be “dressed in black” and that Saville will be a fat man “until December” he also provides humour for he believes the coffins coming out of the houses to be Christmas presents. He also observes what is happening, that the streets are covered in grass as there not enough people to wear the grass away.
The villagers are first seen all together at the Harvest Wake scene. This scene gives an atmosphere of village life. They gossip about the new rector. The scene shows that they are all there so there is enough money and plenty of food so they are healthy. This is a contrast to the end of the play.
Taylor imagines Edward Thornley talking about Mopton Moor to give it the correct historical background. Emmot and Rowland are true however Taylor imagines Emmot having doubts about the wedding. He imagines she says “Its such a strange thing to do give yourself to someone else” Although this scene is fictional its likely to have happened. The purpose of the scene is so see the contrast to the way that the plat starts with many healthy people to the end where there are only a few people left.