Under Milk Wood Characters
Thomas's radio drama Under Milk Wood is abundant with characters, none of whose appearances suggest primacy. The work, told from an omniscient point of view, exposes the multiplicity of perceptions, feelings, and dreams in the life of the town of Llareggub.
One of the most prominent characters in the cast is Captain Cat. This nostalgic former sailor, blinded (both physically and psychologically) by age, recalls his career up until his vessel capsized, killing his other seafaring friends. They populate his dreams, and he helplessly watches them yearn to resume their lives and return home.
Another recurring character is the widow Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard. Ogmore-Pritchard, unresigned to the fates of her dead husbands, barely thinks of them as dead at all. She actively communicates with them as they are rendered in her dreams, continuing her unresolved arguments ad infinitum.
The other characters in Under Milk Wood are entrenched in their own seemingly incomplete or unsatisfactory livelihoods. Thomas uses the dream as a device to explain how these attitudes often take root in the unconscious.
The Reverend Eli Jenkins
The Reverend Eli Jenkins, the town’s minister, whose love for the fishing village of Milk Wood is expressed by his prayers and poetry as well as his life’s hobby, writing a book about every aspect of the town. His poems articulate what he loves in the little town—its humble beauties in the midst of the grandeur of Welsh landscapes that surround it. His prayers remind God that “We are not wholly bad or good/ Who live our lives under Milk Wood,” a theme the play seems to endorse. The play, presented as a day in the life of the town, is somewhat formless but is given some structure by Jenkins’ speeches, which begin and end the town’s day.
Captain Cat, a retired sea captain, now blind, who spends his days dreaming in his room at Schooner House. He is the most important of several old people who seem to watch over the town. He dreams of his travels on the seas and of the young men who sailed with him, some of whom apparently drowned at sea. Most of all, he dreams of long-dead Rosie Probert, a prostitute who was loved by Captain Cat (and many other seafarers) and who speaks to him in his dreams. Her speeches suggest her essential innocence.
Polly Garter, the town washerwoman and the subject of much local gossip. Her fatherless babies appear yearly, to the horrified interest of more respectable women. Polly is alluring and very accessible to men. Her monologues make clear, however, that although many men have loved her, she herself has loved only Little Willy Wee, who died long ago.
Mog Edwards, who is described as “a draper mad with love.” He keeps a dry goods store and courts Myfanwy Price. Their courtship is carried out through letters. Mog’s contain equal parts of local gossip, dry goods news, and love talk. His love for money and her fondness for her tidy life mean that their love will never go beyond letters.
Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, who is twice widowed and keeps a house for paying guests. She spends her days in a whirlwind of vacuuming and polishing, carrying on a conversation with the ghosts of both of her dead husbands. She ruled their lives with the same methodical ruthlessness with which she attacks dust in her home. In the morning, she makes the hapless ghosts...
(The entire section is 882 words.)