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How do stage directions and dialogue in 'Billy Liar' help to illustrate the characters of Barbara, Rita and Liz

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How do stage directions and dialogue in 'Billy Liar' help to illustrate the characters of Barbara, Rita and Liz? In the play ' Billy Liar' the central character, Billy, has three different girlfriends. Each girl has a dramatically different personality, and the stage directions give a clear indication as to the nature of these differences. The dialogue also gives a clear sense of character, with each girl speaking and interacting in a distinct way. Firstly the character of Barbara is quite peculiar, the narrator had described her as being a nineteen year old girl, who is large and well built, dressed in a tweed suit with flat-heeled shoes, she is also carrying a large handbag. From this description we are given, the reader would have presumably had an image of an unattractive girl, also with the types of clothes she wears, there is no evidence that she is in to fashion. From the way Billy approaches Barbara, her body language seems to be quite stiff and well reserved, this is shown in the following lines in Act 1 (p.23): Billy- (moving to kiss her) Barbara- (moving away) stage directions This is an example of a dramatic action within the play because the character is making insignificant body movements, to stay away from Billy. Billy reaction to Barbara's attitude is very slick, in order to make Barbara a bit livelier, he is giving her passion pills. ...read more.


This is all due to the tone and use of language, which she delivers in the play. It is not surprising that her first stage direction is to move forward menacingly, Rita is one of those 'small people' who try to act 'big', her behaviour is very childish as she imitates everyone all the time. Only seventeen years old, Rita is the youngest of Billy's girlfriends but at the same time the most immature. Rita' conversation mainly consists of clich�s and expressions picked up on romantic evenings spent with friendly American airmen. This reflects a great deal toward her personality, due to spending time with American airmen she would have got used to using slang, which she uses whilst speaking towards other characters. Here is an example in the play of her attitude towards Billy: Rita- Ooh! Look what's crawled out of the cheese! Get back in the knife-box, big head. This is a classic example of the use of language she uses, in a way she insults Billy, she is trying to say that Billy is acting clever, 'get back in the knife box'. Although she is offending Billy, surprisingly, Billy's reaction to Rita is not perceived by anyone. Instead he acts soft on her, this is the kind of character Billy is, trying to enjoy his 'love-life' by having as many girlfriends and not to lose them by acting harsh. ...read more.


But Liz's behaviour and personality is very nice, this is shown in her use of language, for example: Liz (with mock obedience)- Yes, sir. She addresses him with far more respect than any of the other girlfriends. One reaction by Liz that did not occur with the other characters was that Liz was the only one to put her arms round Billy: Liz puts her arms around Billy and kisses him. He responds. They break away. (Stage direction) In effect Liz could be classed as being in-between the personality of Barbara and Rita, whereby she is not a lively a Rita but at the same time not as dull as Barbara. In the play 'Billy Liar', the characters show a lot of dramatic action, including changes of attitude, resolutions and in some cases insignificant body movements. These are all partly due to the stage directions and also how the author wants the personalities of the characters to be. The characters dialogue with others has also been significant throughout the play because it gives the reader a clear idea of what is happening in the play. We also see that characters like Rita use slang and dialect to position her in the play with other characters like Billy. There are a lot of strong characters in the play 'Billy Liar' for example Rita and Barbara. The purpose of including these types of characters is to create dramatic tension in the play together with making the play more interesting and with more action. Fahad Syed English GCSE Coursework 11.07 1 ...read more.

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