Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Drama, Revised Edition)
By centering the play’s action on the lives of the Folan women, McDonagh creates a bleak picture of life in the western region of present-day Ireland. The setting symbolizes how the remoteness of their spiritual existence from any kind of lineage has come to this: a vicious war of wills between mother and daughter, and a future, at least of this family, that ends in madness and matricide. The world of these characters has collapsed into a dreary room connected to the world beyond the Connemara mountains only by television, an occasional visitor, and infrequent letters.
To Ray, who watches Australian soap operas on television constantly, Ireland has become intolerably boring. Like his brother Pato, he is eager to move to a foreign city, where he can find work and get “more drugs.” As for Maureen and Mag, family ties have disintegrated, giving way to spite, resentment, and hatred. The prevalence of violence, both in language and in action, suggests that these characters live constantly on the edge of explosive reactions to each other, repressed only by circumstances. Their outbursts measure the depth of their emotions, which are almost entirely negative. McDonagh’s vision does not include gaiety, compassion, human warmth, or respect for individual worth. The characters’ sardonic wit is a weapon of spite, void of charm and warmth. Mag is content to control Maureen by deceit and whining, not concerned that Maureen is lonely, love-starved, and likely...
(The entire section is 394 words.)
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