With reference to the way OCasey presents the members of the Boyle family in Juno and the Paycock, how far do you agree that they attempt to escape their poverty?

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With reference to the way O’Casey presents the members of the Boyle family, how far do you agree that they attempt to escape their poverty?

The characters in ‘Juno and the Paycock’ make different attempts to escape their poverty and O’Casey presents each character and their efforts in different ways. In examining the characters’ attempts, a good place to start is Mary.

Mary is arguably the most proactive of all the Boyles when it comes to escaping poverty. She acts as if she is from a higher class than she is by reading many social realism plays by Ibsen, conveyed to us when O’Casey states that Mary’s situation is improved by “her acquaintance – slight though it may be - with literature”. This suggests that literature can produce snobbish characteristic within a person. She dresses in “silk stockings” and puts “ribbons” in her hair. She is described as “well made-up”, proving to us that she puts great effort into her appearance and her attempts to look less poor than she is.

Mary’s judgement of men is clouded by her poverty. She chooses Bentham over Jerry because Bentham can offer her a more comfortable life, even though Jerry probably would have treated her better. However, this method to escape her poverty backfires on her and she ends up in a worse situation than she was before – unmarried and pregnant. Every step Mary takes to void her poverty inevitably brings her one step closer to it.

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Mary tries to influence her father into working as well, even though she is on strike. This is a hypocritical action, making it seem like she wants her family to earn money on her behalf. Mary is upwardly mobile, but too idealistic and naïve to escape her poverty.

Contrastingly Johnny is unable to work and spends most of his time at home being terrified. Johnny’s lack of education as a result of his poverty could have led him to being involved with terrorism at a young age.

At one point Johnny complains that “Oul’ Simon Mackay is thrampin’ ...

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