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Discuss the depiction of unhappy families in O'Caseys 'Juno and the Paycock'.

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Discuss the depiction of unhappy families in O'Caseys 'Juno and the Paycock' It is evident that the theme of unhappy families is central to O' Casey's play Juno and the Paycock. Each of the characters suffer misery and hardship. This theme is nowhere more evident than in the characters themselves. The main characters in this play are Juno, Jack, Mary and Johnny. Juno is the mother of this unhappy family and her husband Jack Boyle gives a commonplace explanation for the origin of her name. She was born in June; he met her in June; they were married in June and Johnny was born in June. However, Juno was also the name of the goddess wife of Jupiter, king of the gods. In 1922, a wife's role was very much inferior to her husband's. She was expected to love, honour and obey. Juno would have been happy with such a position had her spouse kept his side of the agreement. Jack Boyle had reneged on his duties as husband and father and this is certainly one of the main contributions to such and unhappy family. His unwillingness to work and provide for his family, has forced Juno to take on his task, as well as her own. In doing so she has aged more than her years, losing much of her youthful beauty; Twenty years ago she must ...read more.


His son's terrible disabilities do not arouse his pity. When Johnny is terror- stricken by the apparition in act two he shows no concern, other than a cowardly unwillingness to check the bedroom. Mary's pregnancy in act three shows him at his most selfish. He has no care for his daughter but instead talks of putting her out of the home. Yet, what has most upset him is not Mary's 'immorality' but he prospect of being disgraced as her father, in the eyes of Joxer and his neighbours. Its clear that drink is a major factor for the unhappiness of the family. Boyle's fondness for drinking is very obvious throughout. He first appears on stage after a visit to Foley's, where he has spent the morning drinking with Joxer. When he receives the good news of the will his first thought is for 'a wet' as he calls it. In act two he has the means to indulge himself. We see him celebrating his good fortune with a bottle of whiskey. When act three begins he is still in bed at six in the day recovering from a drinking session the night before. His first thought on waking is to have a bottle of stout. Later, he turns his back on the family to go to the pub with Joxer. ...read more.


Like a child he calls for a drink of water and is bad tempered with Juno when she offers to make him 'a cup of tay' . Like Jack, Johnny shows little love for anyone else. He is ungrateful and unappreciative of Juno's efforts on his behalf. When he is told about Mrs. Tancred and later, when Mrs. Tancred passes, he is unsympathetic, though he and the murdered man were once friends and comrades. He has no respect for his father, for which we might excuse him, but his condemnation of Mary is much harder to condone. Johnny has betrayed a former commandant, Tancred. His treachery causes him intense guilt. He is always tense and takes it out on other member of the family. The visit of the mobiliser at the end of act two, shows us the forces of justice closing in on Johnny. His end is pathetic. Despite his crippled state, his wounds for Ireland, he is dragged off to die ignominiously, killed by his own comrades. It is clear that O'Casey successfully depicts the theme of unhappy families in the play. Poverty, selfishness and misjudgement are evident in most of the characters. Jack Boyle lives in a fantasy world and takes on no responsibilities. Johnny Boyle is a cripple who is selfish and unhelpful. Mary lacks good judgement and Juno is the only character who is holding the family together. It is clear that the play depicts the theme of unhappy families through the characters. ...read more.

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