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What connections are there between "Anansi" and "Billy Liar"?

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Introduction

What connections are there between "Anansi" and "Billy Liar"? The plays "Anansi" and "Billy Liar" were written in very different times. Anansi was written in 1992 and is set in 1790 on a ship travelling from Africa, wheras Billy Liar was written in and is set in an industrial north England town in 1960. The main connection between the two plays is the feeling of being trapped and having a lack of control between the two main characters and the similar methods they use to escape this. In "Anansi" the escaping character was the 'girl'; she was being shipped to an unknown land to be sold into slavery and had no control over the situation she was forced into. In "Billy Liar" the character with a lack of control was 'Billy Fisher'; Billy has frustrated ambitions and feels the environment in which he lives is holding him back. The 'girl' in "Anansi" escapes through the stories about a cunning spider, originally told to her by an old woman with whom she is tied. The old woman encourages her to let her imagination run away, we can see this when she says, "Don't tie yourself up with words like impossible". ...read more.

Middle

In "Billy Liar" Billy gains control over his life by dreaming of what he desires, in his daydreams, Billy is always victorious and highly respected, this helps him escape the monotony of his everyday life. Billy's imagination helps him deal with the death of his grandmother; "Dearly beloved Officers and Gentlemen of the Desert Shock Troops. We are assembled here at the grave-side here this evening to pay respects to a great lady...". In "Anansi" the character of Anansi is portrayed as physically very weak, yet she still manages to overcome creatures a lot more powerful and strong than herself. Mentally she is very strong, intelligent and cunning this makes sure that she always 'wins', she is almost heroic in the way she does things; "oh, I thought you knew, it'll shrink and you'll have to be ever so careful bending over". The character of Billy Fisher shares many of these qualities with Anansi in his daydreams, when he is always somewhat of a hero, and greatly respected by all his peers; "Mr Fisher, on behalf of the British Television Industry, serving the needs of twenty million viewers.... ...read more.

Conclusion

The Captain gets frustrated at the Boy for the questions he asks regarding the 'cargo' of slaves on board the ship. He wants to pass on the family business, but the Boy has a more caring personality; "I still don't see how all those people on the shore can be a cargo" "as the ship's boy, you'll address me as Captain...". In "Billy Liar" Geoffrey is disappointed and often angered by Billy's sheer bone-idleness, and his compulsive lying, he had hopes to pass on the family business to him when he gets older; "I'll clean shirt him round his bloody ear-hole." The style in which the plays are both performed in the same style, the scenes on board the ship are naturalistic which accentuates the brutality of the slave trade. 'The forest of stories' scenes give the characters a change and provide contrast with the ship scenes. In the same way, the serious issues in Billy Liar, such as the death of Billy's Grandmother Florence, (which was partly Billy's fault) are given comedy by Billy's outrageous situations and often bedazzling relationships. ...read more.

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