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'Our Day Out' - How does Russell interest us in the characters of Carol and Briggs? How are comedy and tragedy used to good effect in the play?

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Introduction

Catherine Evans 11s 12th February 2004 Post 1914 drama: Willy Russell's 'Our Day Out' How does Russell interest us in the characters of Carol and Briggs? How are comedy and tragedy used to good effect in the play? In the book 'Our Day Out', Willy Russell interests us in the characters of Carol and Briggs by showing us the contrast of personalities and the difference in lifestyle between the two. The main differences between Carol and Briggs are that Carol is from a deprived background, while the teacher Briggs, probably doesn't understand what kind of life Carol has out of school hours. In scene One, the introduction describes Carol. It says that she is 'rushing along the street wearing a school uniform which doubles as a street outfit and her Sunday best.' This tells us already that she is poor and can't afford new clothes, so she has to wear her school uniform most of the time. When Carol is talking to Les, the lollipop man, she tells him that they are going on a trip. She tells him that only the 'kids who go to the Progress Class' are going, and explains that children go there if they are 'backward'. This shows us that Carol doesn't have a very high opinion of herself and she has a low self-esteem. ...read more.

Middle

Briggs' attitude towards the children is shown throughout the play, but we can see this more when he addresses the kids on the coach, when Russell uses words to describe his current mood: 'suddenly barks' 'sighing, shaking his head' and 'accusing'. Briggs thinks that Mrs Kay is more like a 'mother hen rather than a teacher.' The children don't really behave when Briggs is around, and when he confronts Linda Croxley about not wearing the correct school uniform; she doesn't really take any notice of him, and is cheeky towards him. He tells her if she carries on with her attitude she'll be spending her time inside the coach: "I don't care. I don't wanna see no crappy castle anyway." Briggs is appalled at this, and the fact that she swore indicates that the kids don't have much respect for him. When the Briggs and Mrs Kay are in the zoo caf�, Briggs tells Mrs Kay he didn't realise that the kids are actually interested in the animals, and he is enthusiastic at his own suggestion of bringing some slides in for the kids to see. When he finds out that the kids have stolen all the animals, he feels betrayed because he trusted the kids to behave themselves and act responsibly; but they don't, and he is angry. ...read more.

Conclusion

The swearwords that they use are humorous because they talk like that towards their friends and even the teachers. Will Russell uses tragedy to good effect, in particular on two occasions during the play. When Carol is on the edge of the cliff, when she asks Mr Briggs if she would have been 'alright' if he was her father, she means if she would have been alright as in gaining the right opportunities in life. She is thinking of ending her life so young because she knows, she knows that she wont be given the opportunities that other people will be given. When Andrews is caught smoking at the back of the bus, Briggs sends him to sit at the front, then later he joins him. Briggs asks him how long he has been smoking and he asks him what his parents think of him smoking. Andrews replies that his father 'belts' him when he refuses to give him a cigarette. During the play, we are given little insights into the lives of the children, and we can see that it is a very deprived background. They will probably never have the opportunities that other children are given, and as Mrs Kay said, they are made for the factories, but the factories have closed down, so they have even less opportunities now. ...read more.

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