The texts which I have studied in my comparative course are “The Great Gatsby” (G.G.) written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Casablanca” (C.B.) directed by Micheal Curtiz and “Translations” (T.) written by Brian Friel. The cultural context of all three texts impacts on how and why the people behave the way they do. In this essay I will examine the elements which I thought had the most significant impact on the characters which contributed to their behaviour throughout the narratives. The first aspect I will examine is the setting of all texts – how it impacts on the way in which the main characters act and the consequences it has on their behaviour. G.G. is set in the “Roaring Twenties” in America. Fitzgerald set G.G. in an altered version of Long Island and Manhattan where Great and Manhasset Neck became East and West Egg and the large landfill site at Flushing is renamed the ‘valley of ashes`. This glamorous decade of the 1920’s was one of great cultural, artistic and social developments. WWI had ended in 1918 and left people disillusioned. This generation that fought and survived were ‘the lost generation`. At this time, America seemed to throw itself headlong into a decade of madcap behaviour and materialism. This era, also known as ‘The Jazz Age` was improvised and wild, jazz broke the rules of music just as ‘The Jazz Age` thumbed its nose at the rules of the past. Now, the ‘American Dream` became prominent and the idea of America being a land of opportunity was challenged and people came to believe that a determined and able individual could achieve anything, regardless of their social background. This was a pursuit of wealth. G.G., unlike the other two texts is set in a time where although having just came out of war, no other country imposed on America’s freedom, which I think led to freer morals and loser behaviour among the people (for example, the widespread infidelity). Unlike G.G., C.B is set in Morocco’s real costal city of Casablanca under Vichy French rule (a puppet administration for the Germans) during the early days of WWII. At this time, people from all over the world, especially Nazi occupied Europe, came to Casablanca. Some trying to escape and others, scam artists trying to get rich. It is described as a “torturous refugee trail” to reach Casablanca where they “wait” for passport visas (letters of transit) to escape. The social setting of C.B. is presented to us as we see a globe revolving slowly at the beginning of the film. An authoritative male voice gives us the time setting for the film. The main action of the film covers three days in the life of Rick Blaine, an American who has fled from Paris as the Nazis occupied it. He has set up a café in CB as he tried to forget his past and a disastrous love affair. “Rick’s Café Americano” is the most popular hang out, a place where shady dealings and gambling take place. T. differs from both texts as it celebrates the day-to-day and the wit and humour the mundane. Unlike G.G. and CB, T is not remotely glamorized. However, T and CB are alike in the sense that both texts contain people who strive to gain their countries independence.
The setting of the play T. is a small rural Irish speaking community in the fictional townland of Baile Beag in County Donegal. The year is 1833 and Ireland is under British Rule and part of the British Empire. It is a community of tenant farmers and fishermen where inhabitants eke out a living from the land by growing potatoes by fishing or by rearing livestock. The local people worry about the possibility of potato blight, unlike the people in CB and GG who are hungry for achieving money through business and corrupt practices. The people of Baile Beag are dependent on the land, this is poignant considering the play is set not long before the Great Famine. There are very few employment opportunities in the area and people are shabbily dressed, whereas in both alternative texts the main characters have a demure fashion...
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