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Cuba by Liz Lochhead

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Introduction

Choose one moment from the play you think the dramatist makes especially memorable and show in detail why you feel that moment is so successful dramatically. One of the moments I find most successful dramatically is the moment when Barbara Proctor, during a Poetry lesson, starts crying when she is told to read aloud the last stanza of the poem "La Belle Dame sans Merci". The poem has such a powerful impact on her that she cannot contain her fear and anxiety about the situation the world is going through. "La Belle Dame sans Merci" seems to affect Barbara more than anything else in the story. This may be because of several reasons but, above all, the fact is that the poem deals with a delicate issue: death. This may be the "powerful connection" which deeply affects her, death and the nuclear threat. ...read more.

Middle

This can be connected to Barbara's settings since probably she cannot see anything ahead of her - only the war, and what consequences it might bring. This is showed previously on the play; when Barbara says "if there is a next week", which is evidence that she cannot see the world in the distant future, without a war; her whole life seems to hang by the possibility of a nuclear war. The poem appears to make Barbara understand what death really is, as she can see a concrete example, though imaginary. One last interpretation of the story might be that the knight falls in love with somebody he cannot understand at all: "in language strange she said..." and which he is unfamiliar with: "took me to her elfin grot". Barbara's situation seems to be the opposite of this: she is afraid of something that he fully understands and is familiar with the consequences it might bring. ...read more.

Conclusion

The peak of this shocking moment is when Barbara partially recovers and puts into words her fear: "I'm frightened. I'm frightened there is going to be a war". The reader can imagine what the atmosphere of the class is: complete silence, paralysed students. It is very effective the fact that all the students are expecting to hear the teacher's opinion, as all the previous teachers do not take sides in the situation, but give them a neutral point of view. The author's choice of including this particular poem is suitable for the story's plot and for the setting of the Cuban missile crisis. It places the real conflict in an imaginary situation and, although the tale can be interpreted in several ways, it is very much related to death, something which concerns Barbara, her classmates and the teacher, who does not seem to know what to do. ...read more.

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