Themes in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” Essay

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Themes in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane”

Maureen and Mag are isolated because of their physical location and their relationship with each other. Maureen dreams of being free of her mother’s house and small town life in Leenane. She blames her mother and her sisters for her circumstances; however, she is faced with the hard truth that men don’t come to call. Farming towns like Leenane were previously communities built on supporting each other, but over time families grew more isolated from one and other, leaving people like Mag and Maureen without the help of friendly neighbours.

According to one ciritic; Leenane is not a place to live, it is a place to leave. As the suicidal priest of the parish, Father Welsh, points out in one of the plays, Leenane is a town in which God himself seems to have no jurisdiction Dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship In Beauty Queen, though Maureen constantly tries to distinguish herself from her mother, Mag has left an undeniable mark on her and their similarities continue to grow. While there is the external conflict between the two characters, it is exasperated by the frustration that they are so eerily similar.

The beauty of the mother/daughter relationship is watching a daughter morph into her mother; however, in Beauty Queen Mag becomes an ever-present mirror for Maureen reminding her that if she cannot change her present self, her destiny is laid out before her. Maureen has stayed in Leenane to care for her mother. However, we find out that Mag is also caring for Maureen when she reveals that Maureen has suffered a mental breakdown in her past and has been released to Mag’s care.

Mag depends on Maureen but Maureen also needs her mother to give her a sense of purpose, while Mag sees a daughter that is always trying to run away from her Exile/Immigration Pato speaks to Maureen about some of the harsh realities of his work in London and reveals his desire for a self-sustaining, coherent Irish nation unencumbered by external industrial and cultural forces: I do ask meself, if there was good work in Leenane, would I stay in Leenane? I mean, there never will be good work, but hypothetically, I’m saying.

Or even bad work. Any work. And when I’m over there in London and working in the rain and it’s more or less cattle I am, and the young fellas cursing over cards and drunk and sick, and the oul digs over there, all pee-stained mattresses and nothing to do but watch the clock . .. when it’s there I am, it’s here I wish I was, of course. Who wouldn’t? But when it’s here I am … it isn’t there I want to be, of course not. But I know it isn’t here I want to be either.

(31) Pato’s lament in this passage concerns regional and national exile, speaking indirectly to the sense of nomadism and diaspora which characterizes contemporary Ireland in an increasingly global world order. Because there is no work in Leenane, he has had to emigrate. In London, Pato has endured horrific working conditions, low pay, and disrespect-factors which ultimately force Pato to immigrate to America. His constant wish to return to Leenane while on the job in England signals a concomitant desire for a stable national identity.

But this wish is not nostalgic, given Pato’s admission that : when it’s here I am … I know it isn’t here I want to be. ” Clearly, Pato recognizes the ways in which American and British influences have forever altered his homeland, how those influences continue to erode national oundaries and propagate a global world order Violence Violence is made evident in language, since the characters engage in dialogues which not only tell a cruel story but also make directions for action, character and space in a neverending vicious circle of brutality and despair. Examples of violence expressed through language abound.

Maureen, who repeatedly scolds and chastises Mag, tells her rudely : ‘’you’re oul and you’re stupid and you don’t know what you’re talking about:’’ And also Maureen tells Pato, “Look at this. The radio left on too, the daft oul bitch” Mag is worried about an old woman’s murder in Dublin and Maureen speaks her mind and says “that sounds exactly the type of fella I would like to meet, and then bring him home to meet you, if he likes murdering oul women” (368). She adds that “for the pleasure of me [her] company he’d come. Killing you [Mag] it would just be a bonus for him. ” Then she says that “if

he clobbered you [Mag] with a big axe or something and took your [her] oul head off and spat in your [her] neck, I [she] wouldn’t mind at all, going ? rst” Violence is used as a dramatic device since the writer’s desire to shock the audience is evidenced when Mag unexpectedly pitches forward and reveals her battered skull. Similarly, he creates suspense when Maureen approaches Ray from behind, carrying the poker in her hands. Violence is also made evident in Maureen’s dreams. In her struggle to break free from her mother’s demands and from her monotonous life, Maureen dreams “of anything! Of anything. Other than this” .

Readers can realize the intensity of Maureen’s frustration in scene two when she tells Mag about a “day-dream […] something happy to be thinking of when I’m [she’s] scraping the skitter out of them hens” in which she is standing beside Mag’s cof? n with “a fella beside [her] there, comforting [her], the smell of aftershave off him, his arm around me [her] waist” What is striking all through the play is the utter lack of moral values. In the town of Leenane, no one is easily shocked. Casual discussions of violence ? ll the play -the characters are more upset insigni? cant complaints than by news of manslaughter or murder.

They seem to live by their own individual moral codes and violence usually erupts when those codes collide. Maureen is not punished for her mother’s murder; her acts escape any clear moral judgement. Irishness According to Rhea Vanhellemont in his ‘’Martin McDonagh’s freewheeling and slightly surreal Irish national theatre, in-yer-face! ’’ thesis : In McDonagh’s work the ideal of the melodramatic Irishman is challenged further and the melodramatic Ireland is further demythologized. Piety is exchanged for disrespect for priests, loyalty makes place for jealousy and treason, tenacity is still present but then in the state of being drunk.

The love of the country is completely (Vanhellemont, 7) Characters’ discussions of Irishness display disapproval of economic hardship and inferiority to the rest of the English-speaking world. The main theme in the play -the longing for rootedness- is revealed in the characters’ attitude who, even when aware of their impossibility to de? ne themselves in relation to home, region and nation, consistently return to them. As they look back and re? ect on what these sites once meant, their desires for a return become angry resentment against a world irrevocably changed by increasing forms of uneven globalisation.

As Mag complains about not being able to understand an Irish singer, Maureen turns off the radio angrily since she thinks it is right that people speak Irish because they live in Ireland and adds that the crux of the matter is that “if it wasn’t for the English stealing our language, and our land, and our God-knows-what, wouldn’t it be we wouldn’t need to go over there begging for jobs and for handouts? ” WORKS CITED : Vanhellemont, Rhea. Martin McDonagh’s freewheeling and slightly surreal Irish national theatre, in-yer-face! . Universitait Gent, 2009

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