In The Homecoming, what illusions are the characters immersed in?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the fascinating aspects of this play is the way in which all the characters seem to be engaged in a joint illusion that they are a sophisticated family, even though the strange domination game and frequent incidences of anger and violence show otherwise. We are presented therefore with a family who tries desperately to maintain an illusion or a kind of veneer that they are indeed sophisticated, even when they are saying things and engaging in activities that obviously undercut any such attempts, which produces a strangely comic situation.

Consider the way that Lenny casually refers to the "tart down by the harbour" and then the old woman that he physically abused. The violence in the play is always present, but never seemingly openly acknowledged, making it all the more threatening and disturbing. Ruth, in the same way, acts outwardly in way that is vastly different from her sexuality and personality. An excellent section of this play for you to analyse would be Act II and the power game for dominance is enacted during a conventional scene of the family having coffee and cigars after their evening meal. If you analyse their speech, they seem to be engaged in conventional topics, talking about the food, family gossip and other such items. However, it is clear that beneath this veneer there is a despeate and titanic struggle for dominance. Illusions then are something that the entire family are engaged in upholding, even though their words and behaviour constantly belie such attempts.


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