"Our Day Out"

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"Our Day Out"

In this assignment I shall be comparing two characters in the popular 20th century drama play "Our Day Out". It is written by Willie Russell and is based around a school trip from Inner city Liverpool to Conway Castle, Wales.

The general plot is how a teacher, Mr Briggs', attitude towards the pupils changes. It is about his conversations with Mrs Kay, as both frequently disagree with each other and always believe they speak for the great majority.

Mr Briggs doesn't care what the children's opinions are, and just wants to educate them so that they will go as far in life as they can. He has a reputation as a strict teacher and has been sent by the head teacher to "try and keep things in some kind of order" which gives me the impression that even the head teacher has no respect for Mrs Kay's teaching methods.

Mrs Kay considers the pupils feelings, but doesn't consider their education to be as important as Mr Briggs does, for example "Ten years ago you could teach them to obey, to expect a little more than a lousy factory job. Now they don't even have that to aim for". Her philosophy is that the factories of Liverpool need workers, and that the children were destined to be in the factories. Mrs Kay considered education a bit of a joke, and that Mr Briggs would fail to educate the children. Personally, I am strung between two sides. On one hand, Mrs Kay is correct in understanding that children have feelings, she acts "more like a mother and daughter" to the pupils. On the other hand, she is mistaken in making assumptions based on a child's attitude. The children might want and have the ability to learn, for example, when Carol asks Mrs Kay "If I started to work hard now an' learned how to read, eh? Well, d' y' think I'd be able t' live in one of them nice places?" It shows Carol realises the fact that if she stays the way she is, she will never have a nice home or any money, and there will be no way out of her horrible city life. Most children in urban areas are treated badly both by their parents and other children, so they presume that unless they are violent and abusive, that they will be an easy target for bullies.

The good side of Mr Briggs' attitude is that children are there to be educated. His opinion is that discipline is the only way to control a child, which can be the case, for example, Reilly and Digga are quite happy to smoke with Mrs Kay around but the threat of Mr Briggs has Reilly threatening to "gob y'". On the other hand, until the end of the play he has no consideration for the pupils feelings and thinks that the children and the staff should be on opposing sides, for example, when he is discussing the days proceedings with Mrs Kay he says "I really think you're on their side". My opinion stands in that both have good and bad points. The play portrays Mr Briggs as a very uncaring, sour man. He is a typical bad guy. He doesn't trust anyone, not even his fellow teachers, but especially the pupils reinforcing the fact that he believes there is a distinction between the staff and pupils. He is also made out as if he is absolutely determined not to have a good time, for example he can't even say "Morning" without being "begrudged", but later he is really enjoying himself. It was based on his belief that children are just objects, and that they have no feelings. However, in the scene with Carol, when she was threatening to throw herself off the cliff, he realised that he had been kidding himself, and that children do have feelings and emotions. Brigg's usual "barking" and staccato" does no good, and when he realises this method of intimidation will not work there is a role reversal of power as Carol is now in charge and Briggs is pleading with her to come down.
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Carol doesn't believe Mr Briggs's initial concern for her "...because if I jump over, you'll get into trouble when you get back to school. That's why, Briggsy!... You hate me" This comment suprised Mr Briggs, he didn't realised he was so hated. He begins to see Carol as an individual, as a person with problems and recognizes that Carol is more mature than he thinks. She tells him "I wanna stay here where its nice" suggesting that her broken down urban life is depressing her. He begins to see through Mrs Kay's eyes, what she sees every day ...

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