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Explore the presentation of identity in Friel's 'Making History' and Pierre's 'Vernon God Little'.

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Introduction

Explore the presentation of identity in Friel's 'Making History' and Pierre's 'Vernon God Little'. Identity is the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known. These characteristics can be expressed through many factors, such as a person's image, their personality, where they were brought up or their accent. All the characters in the play, 'Making History', are identified through where they come from and their accent. Friel is attempting to illustrate the differences between class and social status in Ireland during this time. In a way this is equivalent to the characters in 'Vernon God Little' where the characters are identified by the items they own, even if Pierre is trying to lampoon the American society. In 'Making History'; Harry, O'Donnell and Lombard all have strong Irish accents which reflect the strong Irish culture they live by. Mary and Mabel are English and have 'Staffordshire accents', Mabel's accent is weaker, symbolising that she is slowly losing her identity as an English Protestant as she is married to a prominent figure in Irish monarchy and is an English settler living in Ireland. ...read more.

Middle

The audience see here that Mary is a very strong character with her own personal opinions, very much like Mabel, and this is why she and O'Donnell oppose each other so much. Mabel is one of the main characters in which identity is shown. She becomes a neutral character trying to settle disputes between the two opposing countries, England and Ireland. This is shown through pauses and awkward silences in the discussion with her sister Mary. 'Mary: That's a promise. (Pause)... Mabel: Thank you. (Pause).' When Mabel is discussing her new life in Ireland with Mary, she refers to herself as 'we' whereas Mary says 'them'', 'Mary: They have no bees...? Mabel: No, we haven't.' This shows she is distancing herself form her English upbringing and proud Protestant family. Mabel is also shown as an outspoken and astute woman, which shows she is outside of her time. Also at the time the play is set, gender plays a large part in identity, women were meant to be seen but not heard and it was seen as controversial if they married a man who was neither chosen by there family or accepted by them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Vernon is also hiding a second identity in 'Vernon God Little'. He shows a false fa´┐Żade in front of people he wishes to manipulate, such as Taylor and Lally. In private he is a very unsure young boy yet he portrays an outer shell of confidence and aggression. Identity is used as a main theme in various novels and plays as it allows the author to portray characters in certain ways. In 'Making History' identity is portrayed through a characters upbringing and religion. Hence O'Neill's split identity. He is unable to choose between his English upbringing and Irish religion. In Pierre's 'Vernon God Little' the characters are identified through the items and clothing they own. This shows a very materialistic way of thinking and shows the readers the discomfort and embarrassment Vernon goes through, due to the items he owns. Adding to the uncertainty he has in his identity. Identity is presented in many different ways; however in 'Making History' and 'Vernon God Little' it is portrayed through personal appearance, upbringing and accents. Each of these can depict someone in a certain way; Vernon and his shoes, Mabel and her accent and O'Neill being brought up in England. ...read more.

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