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How does McDonagh make Scene 7 in 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' such a dramatic moment in the play?

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Introduction

How does McDonagh make Scene 7 such a dramatic moment in the play? The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a comedy written by an Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, set in a quiet and picturesque Irish village Leenane, Connemara in the early 1990s. The play centres around the life of Maureen Folan, a 40-year-old woman who takes care of her 70-year-old, selfish and manipulative mother Mag. The sisters of Maureen had escaped into marriage and family life, ?[her] sisters wouldn?t have the bitch. Not even a half-day at Christmas to be with her can them two stand?, but Maureen, with a history of mental illness, is trapped in a seriously dysfunctional relationship with her mother. Scene 7 is the culmination of many years of animosity and hatred between Maureen and her mother Mag. At the start of the scene, we see Maureen try to taunt Mag in a sexually explicit way by telling her the things Pato did to her and fictitiously told her how she and Pato parted grounds, ?Aye, a great oul time me and Pato did have. ...read more.

Middle

At the beginning of the play, we feel sorry for Maureen who seems to only stay with Mag out of sufferance and Mag is manipulative and taking advantage of her. Although she proclaims that she is old and ill: ?[her] urine infection, bad hand and bad back?. Despite this, she manages to look after herself when she has to. Progressing through the play however, this view seems to change, especially with the continuing threats from Maureen, ?The whole of that Complan you?ll drink now, and suck the lumps down too, and whatever?s left you haven?t drank, it is over your head I will be emptying it, and you know well enough I mean it!? Mag also blames Maureen for her burnt hand, but at the time, we assumed that she was lying. But after finding out that she went to a ?nut-house?, Difford Hall, we seem to consider the possibility that Maureen might be capable of torture. Through the duration of the play, seemingly small things are used to create arguments between the two. ...read more.

Conclusion

She then sits at the table, waiting for the oil to boil. Then, once it has boiled, she turns the radio up and takes the pan to Mag. This clinical way of torturing someone is so graphic and terrible, and the fact that she turns the radio up to muffle Mag?s screams shows utter disregard to any emotion. Even after Mag tells Maureen that she read the letter Pato sent, she carries on torturing her. After finding out Pato had invited her to America, she goes into a daze, and almost nonchalantly throws the rest of the oil into Mag?s midriff. In removing all of Maureen?s emotion, the author makes us empathise with Mag and hate Maureen. The fact that she is so calm, ?she speaks quietly, staring straight ahead? adds tension as this is not usual behaviour, and this routine seems habitual. She displays a cold and calculated side of her, for which the reader could never have guessed and is horrified by. In this passage, McDonagh successfully combines these techniques to create a very effective and suspenseful piece of writing, both combining mystery and disturbing torture, making this passage very dramatic and three dimensional. ...read more.

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