Sean O'Casey

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Discuss Sean O'Casey's presentation of the working class in A Pound on Demand.

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Sean O'Casey's presentation of the working class in A Pound on Demand is far from flattering. He shows them as greedy, prone to drink, and ultimately not very bright.

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Whatever ideological affiliations the Marxist Sean O'Casey may have had with the working class, they are notable by their absence in A Pound on Demand. In this brief play—actually more of an extended skit—he presents the Irish proletariat in a decidedly unflattering light.

Sammy is a shambling drunk who's been persuaded by his relatively sober sidekick Jerry to withdraw his money from his post office savings account. Jerry has the difficult task of making sure that his inebriated friend is able to remain sufficiently sound in mind and body to write his signature on the form that will successfully realize his meager financial resources. As well as drunkenness, then, we also have greed.

In portraying these vices, one can't escape the feeling that the Marxist O'Casey is showing us what he regards as the baleful effects of capitalism on the proletariat. That he chooses to do this in a comical, unsentimental manner gives the impression that the playwright feels a sense of disgust at the working-classes for succumbing to the values of their capitalist overlords.

O'Casey may love the proletariat in the abstract, but he still sees the working-classes as living, breathing human beings with all their faults and foibles. This may make for a somewhat unflattering portrayal, but at least it conveys the truth as O'Casey sees it.

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